The UN Food Systems Summit+2 Stocktaking Moment (UNFSS+2) kicked off on Monday July 24th at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) headquarters in Rome with a high-level opening ceremony attended by over 20 heads of State and Government, and a strong call for accelerating action to transform global agrifood systems.
The three-day high-level event is convened by the United Nations Secretariat and hosted by Italy, in collaboration with the Rome-based UN Agencies (FAO, IFAD, WFP), with the objective of taking stock of the progress achieved since the first UN Food Systems Summit in 2021. The opening ceremony was led by the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, and the Prime Minister of Italy, Giorgia Meloni.
The UN Secretary-General António Guterres, as the convenor of the event, delivered the keynote speech underscoring the dire global food security situation.
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) António Guterres, Secretary- General of the United Nations: “Global food systems are broken, and billions of people are paying the price. More than 780 million people are going hungry while nearly one-third of all food produced is lost or wasted. More than three billion cannot afford healthy diets.”
The Secretary-General of the UN urged the Russian Federation to return to the implementation of the Black Sea Initiative.
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations: “The Russian Federation and Ukraine are both essential to global food security. They have historically accounted for roughly 30 per cent of global wheat and barley exports, a fifth of all maize, and more than half of all sunflower oil. For my part, I remain committed to facilitating the unimpeded access to global markets for food products and fertilizers from both Ukraine and the Russian Federation, and to deliver the food security that every person deserves. I call on the Russian Federation to return to the implementation of the Black Sea Initiative, in line with my latest proposal. I urge the global community to stand united for effective solutions in this essential effort.”
The UN chief asked for a massive investment in sustainable, equitable, healthy and resilient food systems; for government and businesses to work together to build systems that put people over profit, and explore new ways to lower the cost and increase the availability of healthy food for all, and to reduce food systems carbon footprint to help end the senseless war on our planet and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations: “Let’s keep holding each other to account, and learning from one another. Let’s transform food systems for the future, and ensure that every person, in every community and country, has access to the safe and nutritious food they need and deserve. Let’s not forget, for that developing countries to be able achieve these goals it is absolutely essential to massively scale up debt relief and guarantee long-term investments for those countries to be able to overcome the asphixy there are currently facing.”
Italian Prime Minister, Georgia Meloni, officially inaugurated the Summit with a welcoming message, noting that Rome will become the Food Security Capital of the World for three days.
SOUNDBITE (ITALIAN) Giorgia Meloni, Italy’s Prime Minister: “For three days, Rome will become the Food Security Capital of the World, a choice that pays tribute to Italy's traditional commitment to this crucial issue. Food security has always been, indeed, one of the strategic guidelines of our foreign policy and a priority area of Italian development cooperation. And it has become one of the major challenges of our time, in a completely interconnected world.”
In his opening speech, FAO Director-General, Qu Dongyu, highlighted that the UN Food System Summit process has made it clear that agrifood systems hold huge power and potential in contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General: “This is an important moment to assess progress in agrifood systems transformation on the way to achieving the 2030 Agenda. The UN Food System Summit process has made it clear to all of us that our agrifood systems hold huge power and potential in contributing to the achievement of the SDGs. While there are still many challenges, we have made progress in identifying the solutions that agrifood systems can provide for better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life, to ensure that no one is left behind.”
QU added that the Summit must address the fact that agrifood systems need to be transformed so that they can meet the increased demand for food while reducing pressure on natural resources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and safeguard biodiversity, increase resilience to the climate crisis, conflicts and other disruptions to supply chains, ensure decent employment, and ensure access to safe and nutritious food and healthy diets for all.
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General: “SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General: “These solutions depend on transforming global agrifood systems to be more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable. In the face of increasing uncertainties and multiple crises, we need to urgently undertake this transformation to fulfil the high expectations we have from our agrifood systems.”
To speed up progress, he said, it is necessary to leverage cross-cutting accelerators, and FAO is focusing on four key areas: science and innovation, improved data capabilities, increase in targeted and coordinated public and private finance, and establishing inclusive agrifood systems governance mechanisms.
The Summit will last until Wednesday 26 July and will see a series of high-level events, dialogues and side events related to transforming agrifood systems on topics such as food waste, climate change, healthy diets, partnerships, science and technology, indigenous people’s knowledge, and transportation.
The high-level event comes at a time when up to 785 million people are facing hunger globally, one-third of all food produced is lost or wasted and more than three billion people cannot afford healthy diets.