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Italian & Rwandan Leaders Join Urgent Call To Transform World’s Food Systems As UN Food Systems Pre-Summit Begins

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Rwandan President Paul Kagame stress need for more inclusive, sustainable and holistic approaches ahead of the Summit in New York in September.

July 27, 2021, ROME – Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Rwandan President Paul Kagame led calls for countries to make bold commitments to transforming their food systems during opening day remarks at the UN Food Systems Pre-Summit.

Drawing parallels between the COVID-19 pandemic and global hunger crisis, Prime Minister Draghi called on delegates, who came from more than 100 countries, to commit to ending hunger for 811 million people amidst a changing climate.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres added: "The pandemic, which still assails us, has highlighted the links between inequality, poverty, food, disease and our planet."

Against this backdrop, President Kagame announced a common position for Africa, aligned with the continent’s Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals. The position is based on five actions: (1) adopting nutrition-centred food policies such as school feeding programmes; (2) supporting local markets and food supply chains; (3) increasing agricultural financing to 20 per cent of expenditures; (4) encouraging farmer cooperatives and ensuring women’s access to productive inputs; and (5) expanding social safety net programmes and investing in climate advance warning systems.

The official programme began with an opening plenary and an update from each element of the Summit process, including the independent dialogues, scientific group and five Action Tracks.

“Food unites us all, as families, as communities, as cultures and as humanity,” said UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed. “Now let’s use it to unite around the urgency and the actions that are needed to transform our world by 2030.”

In remarks delivered by Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States, Vatican, Pope Francis said that eliminating hunger alone was not enough, urging the world to commit to "designing food systems that protect the Earth and keep the dignity of the human person at the center.”

The pontiff added that nations must also create food systems that “guarantee sufficient food at the global level and promote decent work at the local level; and that nourish the world today, without compromising the future."

Beginning more than a year ago, the Summit has embarked on an unprecedented level of engagement with more than 1,000 dialogues in 145 countries involving tens of thousands around the world.

Referred to as the “People’s Summit”, the results of these dialogues have provided national governments with the most comprehensive picture to date of existing interconnected challenges – from hunger and poverty to rural livelihoods, health and youth unemployment – as well as opportunities.

Reflecting on the highlights of Uruguay’s national dialogue, Vice President Beatriz Argimón said it was necessary to "celebrate and enhance the incredible resilience of women and their key role for the transformation of productive systems."

“A world without hunger is possible. We have the knowledge, we have the technology,” added Gerd Müller, Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development. “But we need more money and more investment to eradicate hunger.”

Playing a central role at the Summit were those representing youth, Indigenous Peoples, farmers and women. Among these were Cherrie Atilano, President of Philippine agribusiness AGREA, who said: “We want young people to have better food choices. The youth have the power to change it because they are the now, the current, and the present.”

Also present was Elizabeth Nsimadala, President of the Pan-African Farmers Organization (PAFO) who said: “It's the first time that I’m seeing a UN process that is inclusive, diverse and open to all stakeholders."

Joachim von Braun, who chairs the Summit’s Scientific Group, stressed the urgency both of scaling social safety nets as well as further investment for productivity across value chains. “There is no time to be lost,” he said.

Peter Bakker, President and CEO of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) announced a Business Declaration that sets out the private sector’s ambition towards equitable, net-zero and nature-positive food systems that can nourish all people. “Transformational change is what we need and it’s urgent,” he said.

About the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit
The UN Food Systems Summit was announced by the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, on World Food Day last October as a part of the Decade of Action for delivery on the SDGs by 2030. The aim of the Summit is to deliver progress on all 17 of the SDGs through a food systems approach, leveraging the interconnectedness of food systems to global challenges such as hunger, climate change, poverty and inequality. More information about the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit and list of Advisory Committee and Scientific Group members can be found online:

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