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SDG 12: Enhancing Climate Solutions through Sustainable Food Systems

Madrid, Spain

11 December 2019

 

It is with pleasure that I welcome you today to this UN System Side Event on “Enhancing Climate Solutions through Sustainable Food Systems”, jointly organized by FAO, IFAD and WFP.

It is also my honour and privilege to welcome our Special Guest, Her Majesty Queen Letizia of Spain, FAO Special Ambassador for Nutrition.

I appreciate her contribution to the global nutrition event and activities.

As a scientist, I would like to start by recalling the definition of a sustainable food system:

A sustainable food system is a food system that delivers food security and nutrition for all. It is economically profitable, inclusive and beneficial for society, and has an overall positive or neutral impact on the climate and the natural environment.

Unfortunately, our contemporary food systems are not meeting this criteria.

821 million people across the globe suffer from undernutrition, while 2 billion are overweight and obese.

According to the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, food systems contribute up to 37 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, and continue to over-use scarce natural resources.

At the same time, food systems are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Increasing climate risks – such as irregular rainfall, increased incidences of storms, prolonged droughts and intensive heat waves – are already affecting food production, pest infestations and the spread of disease and insects.

Climate Change is threatening food safety and food security.

The burden of the impacts of climate change affects particularly small-scale farmers, small and medium enterprises and poor consumers.

On this planet we have more than 84 percent small farmers, including Spanish and Chinese farmers and Indian farmers, even in South America, Argentina, they have a lot of smallholder farmers.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Food systems have an important role to play as a solution to the climate crisis.

Global food systems need to transform to become adaptive to climate change, less wasteful of natural resources and capable of delivering healthy diets for all.

Our food systems currently face complex challenges for which we need innovative solutions and new and strengthened partnerships between the public and private sectors working together to address these challenges.

Engaging the private sector in adaptation and mitigation efforts is of crucial importance.

Private sector entities are well placed and have the power to drive change through transfer of knowledge and with the required financial resources.

FAO – in coordination and in collaboration with the other Rome-based agencies – is supporting governments and stakeholders for a food system transformation at multiple levels.

Allow me to give you some practical examples.

FAO supports countries in strengthening their food systems and improving sustainable value chains, with a special focus on Sub-Saharan Africa, Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States.

FAO – in close collaboration with the UNFCCC and other key actors – is supporting agricultural adaptation and mitigation strategies through inter alia the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture.

FAO supports countries in integrating their agri-food sector in National Adaptation Plans and Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement.

FAO is also promoting digital farming and digital rural development to reduce the digital divide between countries and regions, and between cities and rural areas, thereby improving market access for smallholder farmers.. 

There are so many possibilities with e-commerce. I hope Spain will become one of the leading countries with 5G, then you will have a chance and a capacity to change your society to a digital society. 

Ladies and gentlemen,

No organization can achieve this transformation alone. Partnerships are essential if we are to solve problems and find optimal solutions, and for access to the required resources – all of which are crucial for achieving the SDGs.

This event provides a great opportunity for both private and public sector key players to exchange knowledge and to lay the basis for collaboration and partnership around the common goal of achieving sustainable food systems.

We need to aim big and do concrete!

I wish you all a successful event, and have a good time here in Madrid.

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