Committee on World Food Security

Making a difference in food security and nutrition

Keynote address by CFS Chair to the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries

19 Oct 2022

Check against delivery

Excellencies, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to join you today and speak on this very important topic. I could not think of a more timely topic than this.

Today, the world produces enough food to feed 1.5 times the current population.

Food that is produced by 80%  family farmers and by small-scale farmers who are, tragically, the majority of the world's  poorest.

Rural territories, which feed the world and provide essential public goods and services through the environment, suffer the harshest poverty levels.

Let us reflect on this for a moment.


We have enough food to feed 10 billion people, in a current population of just over 7 billion people.

Despite this abundance, more than 800 million people were going hungry in the world in 2021, according to the recent SOFI report.

In addition, 2.3 billion people were moderately or severely food insecure while nearly 3.1 billion people could not afford a healthy diet in 2020.  Please remember that these are not just numbers, but real people. 

How is this level of hunger and malnutrition possible?

The way we produce, harvest, transport, process, market and consume food has left hundreds of millions of people hungry, in the midst of plenty.

Worsening climate change, conflicts, including Russia's aggression against Ukraine, and the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated the crisis.

How can we overcome this challenge?

The starting point is that we cannot solve today's problems with the approaches that got us here.

We need a global food governance system that is fit for purpose, that is ready to transform our food systems for food security and nutrition, while addressing global shocks and crises like the one we are experiencing today.

The overall objective of this governance system should be to address the root causes of hunger and malnutrition, act on their immediate impacts, and prevent them in the future.

This new governance must be based on the recognition that the transformation of our food systems cannot be accomplished by a single sector, agency or actor.

While it is true that we need food production, the current evidence of increasing hunger shows that this is not enough. We need access to food, social protection, humanitarian action, trade, international financing and many other factors.

These are all systemic and complex challenges that require multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder responses and collaboration.

A governance structure that enables coordination at global, regional, national and territorial levels is critical to both addressing the food crisis and transforming food systems in the long term.

This is precisely what the CFS has been calling for, in support of the UN Crisis Response Group on Food, Finance and Energy.

As you may have heard me say many times, we need to act now and in a coordinated manner. Coordinated and aligned in support of country- and locally-led solutions.

Solutions that involve the whole of government and the whole of society with contributions from all, and at all levels: smallholder farmers and producers, family farmers, cooperatives, small and medium enterprises, women and youth, indigenous peoples, communities, local authorities and parliamentarians. All actors, working together.

We need new global governance, as well as territorial, national and subnational governance who hallmarks are:

  • Public institutions - ministries, government agencies - working together. Multi-sectoral institutional spaces that are mission-driven and not silo-driven.
  • All stakeholders involved and meaningfully participating in decision making.
  • A UN system that works together
  • A common funding framework.

There is evidence of progress:

  • Many governments have already put in place such inter-ministerial coordination platforms, as well as multi-stakeholder ones. But often in a consultative rather than executive capacity.
  • The Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the 2030 Agenda expect integrated national financing frameworks that bring together public and private, domestic and international financing.
  • In developing countries, Resident Coordinators now do have real authority to coordinate the UN system. But real coordination between the UN and IFIs is still lacking in many cases.
  • Some countries are already integrating climate transition, with key portfolios such as energy or agriculture - the case of my country, Spain, or the UAE with food systems.
  • At the global level, the UN Secretary-General has exercised his leadership with the tools at his disposal, convening a Food Systems Summit

We have offered the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) as a platform to support this coordination. But

The CFS was created in 1974 and reformed in 2009 to address crises such as the one we are experiencing. The core of the reform of the CFS 13 years ago was to make it a truly multi-sectoral and inclusive platform.

Today, the CFS is the UN's global food governance body, where some 140 UN Member States join civil society, the private sector, research and academia, UN agencies and programs, international financial institutions, foundations and others to deliberate and drive global policy convergence to address the systemic and structural causes of hunger and malnutrition in support of country-led efforts.

I believe we can transform our food systems to provide food security in a sustainable manner through adequate, affordable, nutritious and healthy diets for all.

Transforming food systems to achieve decent jobs and higher incomes for smallholder farmers and families, food producers, food workers, SMEs and cooperatives.

Transforming food systems to reverse biodiversity loss, restore ecosystems and achieve climate change goals.

In short, transforming food systems to drive the achievement of SDG 2 as an accelerator for all the other SDGs.

Colleagues, I thank you for convening this important meeting and wish you all the best in your discussions.

Thank you.