Committee on World Food Security

Making a difference in food security and nutrition

Remarks by Ambassador Gabriel Ferrero, CFS Chairperson, at the Africa Food Systems Forum 2023

11 Sep 2023

Photo credit: FAO


Your excellency, Dr. Philip Isdor Mpango, Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania,

Honourable Ministers,


My dear friend, Dr Agnes Kalibata, President of AGRA,

ladies and gentlemen,


I am delighted to join you at this year’s Africa Food Systems Forum, as I did in 2022.

As Chairperson of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) of the United Nations hosted in FAO, and on behalf of the 138 Member countries  of the Committee, and of all its stakeholders, it is a great honor to provide these opening remarks.

The theme of this year’s AGRF is more than relevant, more than timely: Africa's Solutions to Food Systems Transformation. In a world that desperately needs solutions, African´s solutions abound.

This is why amidst challenging times for global food systems, Africa gives me hope.

As the CFS Chair, I continuously witness how Africa is providing the vision, the determination and the policies to make food security and nutrition, built upon sustainable and inclusive food systems, a reality in the continent.

You may have heard me say this already, because I truly believe it: Africa will make a Zero Hunger world a reality. Africa will be the cornerstone of sustainable global food security.

When I see African youth and African women stepping up to lead food systems as farmers, workers, entrepeneurs, businessmen and women, academics, civil society leaders and politicians;

When I see you all today gathered here, Africa gives me hope. 


Question one: Why is accelerating food systems transformation so important?

Yet, Excellencies, we shall recognize that we are witnessing critical times.

Agriculture and Food Systems are facing unprecedented challenges from climate change, the war in Ukraine, protracted conflicts, population growth, political instability, economic downturn and other pressing issues. The world face a poly-crisis, a cost of living and a human development crisis, hunger and malnutrition are on the rise in Africa, and in most parts of the world.

While the Climate change emergency is already hitting hard food security, current Food systems contribute to roughly one third of all greenhouse gas emissions and place pressure on biodiversity, soils, and the environment. 

But we have excellent news: the nature of the problem, frames the transformative power of the solution.

Agriculture and Food systems that are truly sustainable and inclusive are capable of producing nutritious food for all, regenerating soils and biodiversity, mitigating and adapting to climate change, respecting worker´s rights, enhance gender equality and eradicate poverty –which is suffered most by the smallholder farmers that produce 30% of the food the world consumes.

This is why Agriculture and Food Systems transformation is superpower to accelerate all dimensions of sustainable development.

This is why it is imperative that we break down the silos between climate and food strategies, financing and investments.

It is commendable to see Africa leading the charge. The Africa Climate Summit that is taking place in Nairobi convened by the Africa Union and the Government of Kenya does exactly this.


Question two: How can this Africa Food Systems Forum help to join forces, connect initiatives, overcome barriers and step up our collaboration for food systems transformation?


Our discussions this weeks on the theme  “Recover, Regenerate, Act: Africa’s Solutions to Food Systems Transformation” focuses on building back better food systems for food security, nutrition and environmental security with youth and women at the center.

Recovery means strategies and actions to rebuild food systems while addressing multiple crises and shocks.  It means  accelerating rather than postponing food systems transformation. It means integrating policy responses, financing and investments.

Regenerate emphasizes supporting the natural capital to bounce back with adaptation practices, agroecology, innovation, and technology for sustainable food production in a changing climate context.

Finally, Act means urgent action to respond to the food crises accelerating food systems transformation through both better policies and greater investments.


Now, how may we make Recovery, Regeneration and action more impactful on sustainable food systems transformation? Allow me to refer to some ways.

First, Food systems transformation needs to be rooted in Principles, closely linked  to the core values and principles of the United Nations Charter and the Human Rights. We need to put people at the center, bringing new impetus to the realization of the right to food.

It is in this way how Smallholders and family farmers, Indigenous People´s and agri-food workers will be the key agents of food systems transformation. Putting them at the center, and respecting and fulfilling their rights, are building blocks of a just and equitable transformation. In this context, the empowerment of women and girls´ and youth is the one of most important levers food systems transformation.

Second, through the right governance mechanisms and processes, those that are inclusive, multi-level –inclusive of subnational and local authorities-, multi-stakeholder, and multi-sectorial;  science and evidence-based.

We need to secure that – on a regular basis – all the policies and political processes key for sustainable food systems are connected, coherent and well-coordinated on accelerating this transition.

Third, with increased and sustained fiscal and financial resources, both domestic and foreign, short and long-term. As CAADP paved the way for public commitment to finance agriculture, the international community should respond to UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ proposed SDG Stimulus plan, which calls for richer countries to funnel an extra $500 billion each year towards financing the SDGs and calls for the international financial system to be transformed.


Excellences, concluding,

It is imperative that we connect the efforts of our governments, those of the UN family, IFIs, grassroots organizations, NGOS, social movements, businesses, research institutions towards the titanic yet achievable effort of food systems transformation.

This is what the CFS I have the honor of chairing, aims to do. Together we can succeed.

As I approach the end of my mandate as CFS Chairperson in October, to bear the torch to my successor –hopefully a newly elected African Chairperson-, I wish to conclude my remarks thanking once again Dr. Kalibata for your engagement and encouraging you African Ministers and stakeholders, to keep up and strengthen your leadership within the CFS and elsewhere, for a Zero Hunger and malnutrition world.

I look forward to seeing you in person in Rome at the Ministerial Segment of the 51th Plenary session on 24 October in Rome, where the Committee will deliberate on the impact and policy responses to the food crises, towards food systems transformation.

Thank you.