FAO in Bangladesh

Second national dialogue for the United Nations Food Systems Summit


Ahead of the first ever United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) later this year, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations participated in the second national dialogue today in which the Minister of Food was chief guest.

The summit, which will take place in September, will launch bold new actions to deliver progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), each of which relates to some degree on healthier, more sustainable, and equitable food systems.

Bangladesh has been organizing dialogues on sustainable food systems in the run-up to the summit. A National Dialogue Committee (NDC) is steering the process, chaired by the Secretary, Ministry of Food, Dr. Mosammat Nazmanara Khanum, and with Additional Secretary, Mr. Khaja Abdul Hannan, as convener.

Robert D. Simpson, FAO Representative in Bangladesh, made opening remarks highlighting the significance of the event.  “The UN Food Systems Summit is a milestone event that will awaken the world to the fact that we all must work together to transform the way the world produces, consumes and thinks about food.  The health of our food systems profoundly affects the health of our bodies, as well as the health of our environment, our economies and our cultures. Today’s second national dialogue will lead to ideas and solutions that will help Bangladesh to transform its food systems.”

The summit has five Action Tracks. The Government of Bangladesh has been focusing on Action Track 1 of the summit – ‘Ensure access to safe and nutritious food for all’, while taking on board elements across all the five Action Tracks. FAO, as the global anchor for Action Track 1, has been facilitating this process in Bangladesh together with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) whose Executive Director is the global chair of the Action Track. FAO has also been engaging with other stakeholders to organize independent dialogues that address themes under the five Action Tracks. The dialogues will feed into a comprehensive pathway document for the country.    

Chief guest at today’s event that was chaired by Dr. Khanum, was Mr. Sadhan Chandra Majumder, MP, Honourable Minister, Ministry of Food. Special guests were Professor Dr. Saleemul Huq, Director,  International Centre for Climate Change and Development and Chair of UNFSS Action Track 5: Building resilience to vulnerabilities, shocks and stress; Mr. Zakir Hossain Akanda, Ex-Member (Ex-Secretary), Agriculture, Water Resources and Rural Institutions Division, Bangladesh Planning Commission;  Mr. Md. Toufiqul Arif, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock; and Mr. Md. Mesbahul Islam,  Senior Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture.

The first stage national level inception dialogue had been convened by the NDC in January. In the second stage, six sub-national dialogues were held between February to May 2021, to understand regional issues and challenges around sustainable food systems. In parallel, about a dozen independent dialogues have been held on a diverse range of issues that impact the food system, ranging from agriculture, aquaculture, environment and climate change and resilience, to urban food systems, women in food systems, youth, and private sector engagement. Today’s national dialogue is the culmination of this process. The event endeavoured to bring to the table the outputs from the six sub-national dialogues and the numerous independent dialogues.

There were five group discussions on the following topics:

•             Availability of diversified, safe and nutritious food

•             Transformation, delivery, access and role of private sector

•             Governance, nutrition and food safety

•             Inclusion, livelihood and social protection

•             Climate, vulnerability and resilience

Each group had an identified facilitator and a senior government official or UN agency representative as speaker. The latter presented a summary of the discussion in the main session. The suggestions received at the dialogue together with outputs from all the other events organized so far will now be discussed at a final Stage 3 member-state dialogue towards the end of the month in order to develop the Pathway Document for Bangladesh to accelerate the country’s progress towards sustainable food systems and its submission to the UN Food Systems Summit. There will be a pre-summit event in the last week of July in Rome and the main summit will be in New York in September, where member countries will be invited to participate.