25 July 2023, Rome: The second day of the United Nations Food Systems Summit +2 Stocktaking Moment started with a special plenary session led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) which focused on the successes and challenges that countries, organizations and other stakeholders have experienced towards transforming agrifood systems as set out at the first Summit in 2021.
‘’We need to find opportunities and solutions and take action to move forward. The question is how do we translate agrifood systems transformation into concrete actions? That’s why we need a debate among all of us, to share ideas,’’ said FAO Director-General, QU Dongyu, opening the session.
Qu conveyed a message of unity, calling on countries to work together by sharing experiences and converting challenges into opportunities for change.
“…To break down barriers to implementation means we will need to do things differently – we need to change our business model, we need to change the way we work together,’’ he urged, reminding that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals is only possible through the transformation of agrifood systems.
The Director-General underscored that FAO continues to advocate for food and agriculture to be recognized as part of an interrelated system, as efforts to transform global agrifood systems cut across a number of sectors including agriculture, the climate crisis, biodiversity, trade, and nutrition.
“But often these diverse agendas are not aligned. Bottlenecks in governance processes and policies often hinder collective and coherent action, resulting in a gap between policy expectations and their impact on the ground,’’ he warned, adding that while many solutions exist, they are being often split up into numerous, overlapping and disjointed efforts, without synergies.
To address this, he said, it is necessary to increase coordination efforts, to work differently by linking short-term and long-term efforts, and to actively seek synergies in solutions.
‘’For example, greener cities not only help improve productivity, but lead to better nutrition, a better environment and a better life. Addressing food loss and waste leads to greater efficiencies for the economy, improving access to healthy diets, efficient use of our water and soil, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” he explained, urging participants to actively seek these synergies and work collectively in science and innovation, data, finance and governance, and other related sectors.
Sharing experiences, solutions and bottlenecks
The event had a keynote address delivered by Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal who said that since 2021, his country has organized national and provincial level dialogues to examine their existing food system vulnerabilities and design and pathway to transform them.
He added that they are currently focusing on improving agricultural productivity by supporting local farming and investing in better storage systems and minimizing waste. They are also aiming to re-vitalize local indigenous food systems and revive ancient food grains such as millets, among an array of other measures and solutions. Their biggest challenge, he said, was a funding gap.
The event also featured a panel discussion including Mohammad Abdur Razzaque, Minister of Agriculture of Bangladesh; Mariam Almheiri, Minister of Climate change and Environment of the United Arab Emirates; Jennifer Moffitt, United States Under Secretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programs; and Estherine Fotabong, Director of Agriculture and Food Systems and environmental sustainability of the African Union Development Agency.
Among other things, they highlighted the importance of advancing technology, supporting farmers, establishing partnerships and adapting to climate change to advance the transformation of agrifood systems. They also recognized some solutions that are sprouting such as youth growing their own food, special subsidies for farmers to grow a variety of crops and increasing peer-to-peer exchanges.
FAO is helping its members advance these solutions and addressing its commitment to working as ONE FAO, to optimize resources, maximize outputs and achieve tangible impacts at scale.
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