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Equitable, Resilient Agrifood Systems Key to Tackle Climate Change, Ensure Better Future for All, Deputy Secretary-General Says, Urging Transformative Action

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks at the “Catalysing global action for sustainable and resilient agrifood systems transformation to accelerate the Sustainable Development Goals” event hosted by Italy, the United Arab Emirates and Japan, in New York today:

I would like to extend my heartfelt appreciation to Italy, Japan, United Arab Emirates and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for the organization of this important event.  It comes almost two months after the Food Systems Stocktaking Moment, convened by the Secretary-General and hosted by Italy last July in Rome.

During the Stocktaking, 3,300 participants — including close to 2,000 Government representatives — unanimously acknowledged the challenges facing our failing food systems.

But, they also did something more.  They recognized the powerful role of sustainable, equitable, healthy and resilient food systems in getting the world back on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement.  They committed to mobilizing all efforts towards the transformation of food systems to ensure a better future for everyone.

Our global food systems are the source of nearly one third of global greenhouse-gas emissions.  At the same time, food systems are and will be among the hardest hit by climate change. Food systems transformation requires integration with our efforts to address climate change.

This means:  Working towards the adaptation of food systems to climate change.  It means increasing investments in building the resilience of agricultural systems and reducing the vulnerability of food producers who depend on natural resources.  It means aligning the implementation of national food systems transformation pathways with the continuous updates of national determined contributions and national adaptation plans for climate action we would ensure coherence and collaboration needed and reduce duplication and burdens on countries and communities.

Food systems transformation, water management issues and resilient adaptation initiatives are all part of the discussions and decisions at the upcoming COP28 [twenty-eighth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] and we need to make the best out of those discussions.

At the Stocktaking Moment in Rome, we confirmed that the momentum for Food Systems transformation is on the rise.  But, we also identified gaps.  We need to bring in the private sector into the discussions about food systems transformation and we need businesses in the food sector to commit to climate targets.  Food produced by world’s largest manufacturers do not meet healthy thresholds and very few among the largest food and agricultural companies have set greenhouse-gas emission-reduction targets.

We need innovative instruments to incentivize private sector to contribute to food systems transformation and climate action.  Progress is not at the level of ambition needed.

Allow me also to insist on two points that also came out strongly in our recent deliberations:  Food systems transformation requires integrated actions across all sectors and all levels of governance.  Today’s high-level side event provides a crucial opportunity for enhanced cooperation and scaling national, regional and global commitments into transformative accelerated actions.  It reminds us that we must work as one and bring all of our efforts and investments together in support of our food systems efforts.

This commitment to collaboration was also at the heart of the Group of Seven’s (G7) 2023 Hiroshima Action Statement for Resilient Global Food Security, which stressed the importance of collective commitments to pave the way to achieve the SDGs and recognized the right to adequate food and resilient, sustainable, efficient and inclusive food systems, with provisions that enable those in need to access affordable, safe and nutritious food and healthy diets now and into the future.  Building on this, the Italian G7 Presidency’s 2024 programme is also dedicated to food security, and the key role of food systems in supporting the 2030 Agenda.

And at every step, we need the voices and ideas of scientists, academics, innovators, women and young people and Indigenous peoples.  All our actions must be rooted in science and evidence, new technologies and innovations, and traditional knowledge.  We can no longer afford to operate within siloes.  We must act as one, for the benefit of all.

Second — food systems transformation requires a massive scaling-up in means of implementation, in particular financing. We need to make the call of the Secretary-General for an SDG Stimulus of at least $500 billion per year a reality. The capitalization of the loss and damage fund will be key for the resilience of food systems and to support communities and livelihoods.

Halfway to 2030, there is an ever-greater urgency to build momentum, embrace solidarity and speed up progress on the SDGs and the Paris Agreement.  Let us seize this moment to unite efforts to eliminate poverty and hunger, to advance towards an inclusive and sustainable future.  Let us always keep in mind that food systems transformation is not just a goal in itself; it is a catalyst for achieving our climate goals and all the Sustainable Development Goals.

Let us all commit to carrying this issue forward in our upcoming meetings and gatherings — from COP28 this year, to the Summit of the Future next year, to the next Food Systems Stocktaking in 2025.

Above all, let us reaffirm our commitment to building a world where no one goes to bed hungry, especially those who grow the food that we all eat, and where our food systems are resilient, equitable and sustainable.

For information media. Not an official record.