Committee on World Food Security

Making a difference in food security and nutrition

Welcome remarks by CFS Chair at the CFS event "Reducing inequalities for food security and nutrition"

22 Nov 2022

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Distinguished Representatives,

Dear colleagues and friends,

I thank you all for joining us, both here in Rome at the Headquarters of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) - our gracious hosts today, as well as those joining virtually.

I am pleased to warmly welcome you to this public event on Reducing Inequalities for Food Security and Nutrition convened by the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) that I have the privilege of Chairing.

Exactly a week ago today, the human population hit the 8th billion mark. This milestone comes at a time of multiple and overlapping global challenges. These challenges range from mounting hunger and malnutrition to climate change, COVID-19, biodiversity loss, economic downturns and escalating conflicts.

As a result, over 800 million people are hungry –and growing day by day- and climate change induced disasters are ravaging lives and livelihoods.

As is often the case, it’s the vulnerable that are suffering most, driven by worsening inequalities in terms of wealth and income, access to resources including land and water, access to basic services like education, health and infrastructure, overlapping forms of discriminations due to gender, race, ethnicity, age or location and of course, food security and nutrition status.

Colleagues, while inequalities are ever-present between various social groups, they have recently been exacerbated by the multiple crises we are facing. We are now living in a time of continuously increasing gaps between those who have and those who do not.

Unchecked, these inequalities cause unequal growth and transformation, ultimately leading to increased migration, political instability, and conflicts.

We have seen the devastating impacts of inequalities on food security and nutrition outcomes, affecting society’s most vulnerable groups such as rural populations, landless people, women, youth, indigenous peoples, and the poor.

Food systems and inequality are often antagonistic; inequalities cause food insecurity and malnutrition, while current food systems perpetuate inequalities. Growing corporate concentration in food trade, along with uneven distribution of agricultural assets, and unequal access to natural resources are all generated effects of unsustainable food system that actively increase inequalities and exacerbate their consequences.


The global community has rightly acknowledged these disparities as a critical concern for development. The issue warranted its own Sustainable Development Goal, with SDG 10 specifically targeting the reduction of inequalities. However, reducing inequalities is not just relevant for SDG 10; it is absolutely necessary for the achievement of SDG 2, zero hunger.

We must harness the multiplier power of transformed food systems to reduce inequalities and advance progress across all the sustainable development goals, including SDG 2 and 10.

Reducing inequalities in food systems will be a multiplier and an essential driver to reduce overall inequalities. I see three keys that will unlock this transformative power.

  • First, empower smallholder and family farmers, who produce around 80% of world´s food with 1/3 produced by smallholder farmers. They are the cornerstone of reducing inequalities while achieving food security.
  • Second, empower rural women and girls and fight gender inequalities.
  • Third, ensuring that all jobs across food systems are decent jobs.  


The objective of today’s event is to identify issues that require particular attention and to contribute to the work of the HLPE-FSN in the preparation of report on this matter that will be released next year.

The report will inform the CFS workstream on Reducing Inequalities for Food Security and Nutrition that will start after CFS 51. The workstream seeks to provide policy response to widespread negative impacts of inequality, both within and outside of our food systems.

Indeed, inequalities both within and outside the bounds of food systems, are highly relevant to the vision and the mission of the CFS.

The HLPE-FSN has already made extensive progress with their report on Reducing Inequalities for Food Security and Nutrition, which you will see shortly during the Project Team Leader’s presentation of the V0 draft.

As CFS stakeholders, this session gives you all an opportunity to provide substantive inputs and contributions, towards the preparation of this report. The report, which will be released next year, will then inform related CFS policy recommendations in the future.

I therefore invite you all to participate actively in today’s important session. Like all other CFS policy agreements, the HLPE-FSN report, along with subsequent policy recommendations on this topic, will be concrete tools for use by governments, UN agencies, and other stakeholders in addressing global hunger and malnutrition.

Colleagues, our planet is now home to 8 billion people. 8 billion hopes. 8 billion dreams. 8 billion solutions.

We must work together and act now to reduce inequalities in the fight against poverty, hunger and malnutrition.

Thank you.