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Global Forum for Food and Agriculture: High level panel on harmonizing global developments with the need for sustainable food systems


The Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) is an annual international conference that focuses on key issues regarding food and agriculture. It is held in Berlin, and organized by the German Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection in cooperation with GFFA Berlin e.V., the Senate of Berlin and Messe Berlin GmbH. The forum gives representatives from the political, scientific,  civil society and the private sector an opportunity to share ideas and increase the understanding on selected topics that are priority on the current agricultural agenda. Since its creation in 2009, the event focuses on a different specific topic every year. This year’s conference was held on 14-16 January 2016 with the theme: "How to feed our cities? Agriculture and rural areas in an era of urbanisation".

The 3-day forum was set up to include closed and small-groups workshops, public and high level conferences, and discussion sessions. During the first two days, expert panel discussions and an international business panel discussion were held to foster knowledge exchange between various organizations with regional perspectives. International organizations hosted closed high level panels on specific issues. The last day of the meeting was dedicated to a high-level representatives meeting and large public conferences and discussions.

FAO’s high-level expert panel: addressing the global political demand on sustainable and resilient cities

With the recently adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and its full range of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), specifically SDG 11 “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”, there is a real global political demand for more resilient and robust urban food systems. The challenge is how to move forward and concretely address this demand.

FAO, through its Food for the Cities Programme funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, hosted a high-level panel on “Addressing urban food security and nutrition issues: harmonizing global developments with the need for sustainable food systems”. The goal of this panel was to raise awareness about urban food security and nutrition issues, and to discuss ways to improve current food systems by identifying opportunities and approaches that target sustainability, resilience, inclusiveness and urgent needs of the most vulnerable. It focused on getting a clearer picture on the diverse roles of key actors and their perspective on eliminating hunger and malnutrition by building sustainable food systems; and discussing how to support the integration of food into the urban agenda.

Numerous experts from country, city, or organization levels joined the discussion. The panel members included:
-    Dun Niu, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of P.R. China to the UN Agencies in Rome;
-    Elisabeth Backteman, State Secretary to the Minister of Rural Affairs, Sweden
-    George Nyendwa, Mayor of Lusaka, Zambia;
-    Gerry Jayawardena, Advisor to the Minister of Agriculture and Former Director General of the Ministry of Agriculture of
Sri Lanka;
-    Alexandra Rodríguez Dueñas, Project Leader of AGRUPAR, CONQUITO, Ecuador; and
-    Stineke Oenema, Economist and Nutrition Expert.
The panel was opened by Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General of FAO, and moderated by Yves Cabannes, Emeritus Professor of Development Planning, University College London.

The outcomes

The ministers that attended the conference agreed that:

  1. Successful urbanization needs agriculture;
  2. Urban and rural areas need to cooperate in planning and managing urbanization;
  3. Urban food security needs to be a priority on the global agenda.

They committed to create the political, economic and social framework for more productive and sustainable agriculture, efficient and reliable supply and value chains, as well as vibrant rural areas, highlighting the importance of rural-urban linkages. The full outcomes of the forum can be find in the Communiqué 2016.