FAO in Cambodia

Cambodia pledges to transform the food systems for people and planet at the UN Global Food Systems Summit

H.E. Deputy Prime Minister announcing Cambodia's commitments to transform the food systems at the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit.

23-24 September 2021 - Cambodia joined more than 140 other member states to celebrate the historic UN Global Food Systems Summit, which called for bold commitments and innovative investments to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through a food system approach. 

At the Summit, more than 90 Heads of State and Government and Government Representatives, virtually presented their commitments to transform food systems to build back better from the pandemic and to achieve the SDGs.

Food systems encompass all individuals, all process and all resources involved in growing, producing, making food, through transportation, marketing and sales, and on to consumption and what we do with food waste. It involves a wide range of actors, including farmers and fisher folk, collectors, traders, retailers, processors, and consumers on the way they prepare and enjoy their food. In this respect, food system has critical roles and power to end hunger and poverty, eliminates all forms of malnutrition and save the planet.

Represented by H.E. Yim Chhay Ly, Deputy Prime Ministry and the Chairman of the Council for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD), Cambodia announced at this international stage the creation of Cambodia’s Roadmap for Food Systems for Sustainable Development 2030.

H.E. Deputy Prime Minister Yim Chhay Ly, emphasized that this roadmap “is the product of extensive analysis of dialogues and is aligned with existing policy frameworks and strategies to achieve the 2030 food systems vision, which focuses on providing food security and nutrition for all.”

To ensure economic, social, and environmental sustainability, Cambodia has identified four main priority areas:

  1. Healthy diets for all to break the intergenerational cycle of malnutrition. Cambodia will work across key sectors to ensure that healthy diets and safe foods are accessible to all, especially for women and children and vulnerable groups, to address all forms of malnutrition.
  2. Empowerment of youth, women and the vulnerable. The commitment to create opportunities for decent employment, education, enterprise development, and promote gender equality and spaces for youth in policy dialogue.
  3. In the context that the world is fighting against COVID-19 and climate change, the Food Systems Dialogues have stressed the importance of a strong focus on resilient livelihoods and resilient food systems to protect food systems against future shocks and stresses. Cambodia will address vulnerability and poverty and strengthen the resilience of the actors, networks and infrastructure supporting food systems.
  4. Governance for more inclusive food systems. Cambodia will continue dialogues, coordination, and collaboration with all stakeholders, ensuring justice and responsiveness to the needs of consumers, the vulnerable and indigenous people. As the Kingdom moves to Chairmanship of ASEAN in 2022, Cambodia looks forward to working with all countries in the region to improve food systems for sustainability for people, planet and prosperity.

H.E. Yim Chhay Ly also stressed that, “As the nation moves to upper middle income country status by 2030, food systems will serve as the critical foundation for sustainable development and the elimination of all forms of malnutrition, hunger and poverty, ensuing that no one is left behind.”

Prior to finalizing the Roadmap and presenting its vision and commitments in the Summit, Cambodia, had convened 30 national dialogues over 2021, with H.E. Sok Silo, Secretary General of CARD as the National Convenor. The national food systems dialogues brought together almost 2 000 participants from a wide range of food systems actors, including farmers, fishers, youths, development partners, civil society, private businesses, and consumers. The voices of the participants brought their practical experiences, ideas and proposed solutions and helped build consensus on priority areas for Cambodia’s National Roadmap.

The Office of the UN Resident Coordinator and UN agencies including FAO, UNICEF, UNIDO, WFP, WHO and IFAD have been active in leading and supporting the virtual dialogues, in partnership with the Royal Government, civil society, the private sector and academia, ensuring wherever possible that critical voices were shared and documented.

According to Dr Iean Russell, Senior Policy Officer for the FAO-EU FIRST Programme, “the Summit comes at the critical time, as we need the bold commitments and unity more than ever, from world leaders, and from people themselves, to take urgent action to deliver our ambitious goal to make the world’s food systems more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable. Only by working together for the transformation of food systems, will we be able to feed people with nutritious food and save our mother earth.”

The pandemic has also shaken development gains over the past decades. The “UN COVID-19 socio-economic impact assessment in Cambodia” more than half of Cambodian households have at some point had to cut back on the size and quality of meals over the period of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Globally, after decades of decline, the number of hungry people has been growing for the past five years with nearly one-tenth of the world’s population going to bed hungry in 2020, according to the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report (SOFI). More than three billion people cannot afford a healthy diet, while obesity and other non-communicable diseases are a growing problem. A new report by FAO shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has compounded the problem, creating severe setbacks in the progress made so far to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

Learn more about the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit at https://www.un.org/food-systems-summit.