Committee on World Food Security

Making a difference in food security and nutrition

18 July 2022 | Opening Remarks by CFS Chair at the High-level Special Event entitled "Time to Act Together: Coordinating Policy Responses to the Global Food Crisis", co-convened by the President of the General Assembly & CFS

18 Jul 2022

Originally delivered in Spanish, check against delivery

President of the General Assembly, HE Abdulla Shahid

UN Secretary-General, António Guterres,

Excellences, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen

I join the UN Secretary-General and President of the General Assembly in thanking you all for joining forces with us, in this high-level event that we aptly titled “Time to Act Together: Coordinating Policy Responses to the Global Food Crisis”.

Excellences, the interlinked shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic, worsening effects of climate change and of conflicts, have destabilized global food, energy and finance systems.

With global hunger and malnutrition numbers already trending upward, the war in Ukraine has triggered an unprecedented global food crisis.

As a result, people around the world, from Cairo to Caracas, Dhaka to Donetsk, from villages around Lake Turkana in Kenya to smallholder farmers in the Dry Corridor in Honduras, are suffering.

And, as is often the case, it is the poorest households, those more excluded or in vulnerable situations, especially children, women and girls, that that are getting hit first and the hardest.

Today, ladies and gentlemen, we will hear about numbers and statistics. Let us not forget that each of these numbers represents a human being. They represent parents going through the torment of watching their children going hungry. Mothers and fathers deciding which meals to skip, which ailment needs a visit to the doctor or taking their children out of school.

These numbers represent an infant whose opportunities along his whole life are compromised by lack of access to nutritious food today. A family farmer that needs to sell their productive assets and migrate, because she cannot afford the inputs to produce.

This is why it is so important to listen to their voices, to take on board their concerns and put their interests at the forefront of our deliberations.

I urge us all to put their lives and livelihood first when we deliberate today. I urge us all to focus on the responses needed by those who are suffering. I urge us all to listen to their voices.

I am delighted that today we are joined by the CFS Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples and Private Sector Mechanisms to bring these voices here. I thank you very much indeed for the work you do, often on the frontlines.

 

Excellences, distinguished delegates,

We welcome and laud the several initiatives that have been launched over the past months by governments, institutions and political fora. These are mobilizing leadership, finances, political will and a wide range of policy responses to the global food crisis.

We all agree that it is time to act.

But the challenge is so overwhelming, that acting is not enough. We must act together, ensuring that all our actions to address the crisis are aligned and converge.

We have enough evidence to back this up. Lessons from the 2007-8 food crisis, as well as from the COVID-19 pandemic more recently, show that meaningful and principled policy response should support country-led solutions. Solutions that involve all of society: from farmers to consumers, civil society, and businesses, especially those most affected by the food crisis.

Supported by, and in support of the UN Secretary General´s Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy, and Finance, we have FOUR aspirations today:

  • First, advance a shared understanding of the main issues and challenges, putting those most affected first; 
  • Second, build synergies and connect the multiple efforts being developed to the current food crisis;
  • Third, advance consensus, convergence and alignment on the policy responses and coping strategies, fundamentally, in support of country-led actions.
  • Finally, keep the long-term vision of the 2030 Agenda as our compass and sustainable agriculture and food systems transformation as our roadmap, as we address the immediate threats by the crisis.

Excellences, distinguished delegates,

In conclusion, I am deeply honoured to join forces with the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary General to face this unprecedented challenge.

The Committee on World Food Security is the inclusive, science-backed intergovernmental platform of the United Nations hosted in FAO on food security, that includes not just governments, but also civil society, the private sector, the whole of the UN family and Bretton Woods institutions, researchers, foundations, and other stakeholders, in a unique way.

I look forward to hearing from you all about the work you are doing and how it can and should converge.

The CFS stands ready to enhance your efforts.

It is time to act together. 

Thank you.

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