FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at centre of regional forum

©FAO/Oliver Bunic

25/03/2024, Geneva

Realizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and ensuring a sustainable future for all is central to the work of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Data released by FAO from 2023 showed that the world is off-track to meet most of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets linked to hunger, food security, and nutrition. 

Given the increasingly short deadline to meet the 2030 Agenda, FAO, in collaboration with UN partners, has contributed to the 2024 Regional Forum on Sustainable Development, an event that provided a venue for participants to exchange knowledge, best practices, and policy solutions to support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Organized as a virtual meeting by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) in Geneva from 13 to 14  March, the annual intergovernmental forum conducted an in-depth review of the progress towards achieving the SDGs through effective delivery of sustainable, resilient, and innovative solutions.

FAO, Co-Chair and Host of the Secretariat of the UN Issue-based Coalition on Sustainable Food Systems led a roundtable on 14 March on healthy and sustainable diets: enhancing the sustainability of food systems in the face of climate change impacts, that targeted mechanisms to improve the sustainability of agrifood systems in the face of climate change impacts. Over 80 participants considered the relationships between sustainable food production and healthy diets and nutrition—including how to create enabling environments for consumers to make sustainable food choices. There was consensus on the necessity to improve nutrition education, food literacy and knowledge of healthy diets in consumers given the current rising rates of obesity in the region. The speakers also detailed the interinfluences of sustainable food production with both climate and biodiversity.  

A joint FAO—UN Women side event, “Women in sustainable food systems and climate action,” on the same day focused on the crucial role of gender equality and women empowerment in creating sustainable food systems and eliminating hunger and all forms of malnutrition. To realize SDG2, the power of policies partnerships must be leveraged, and innovation to scale up financing and investments must be accelerated. It showed how women-led initiatives in rural areas that focus on climate resilient practices, sustainable agriculture, and water management can effect positive change. Speakers agreed that the specific needs and priorities should be better understood for allowing women’s participation in decision-making processes.

Defining the way forward

On 12 March, FAO co-organized with the UN Food Systems Coordination Hub, a regional meeting of the Food Systems National Convenors and other experts from the Europe and Central Asia region, in which participants assessed the progress made in transforming agrifood systems at country level.  The meeting facilitated regional knowledge sharing, and organized roundtable discussions on innovative policies and practices for healthy and sustainable diets and on the potential of food systems transformation in accelerating SDG implementation and climate action.

Participants included representatives from Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, the European Union, Finland, Germany, Kyrgyz Republic, Norway, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

“With less than six years left until 2030 – the deadline all United Nations Member States set to make this world a better place – FAO is making all the efforts to ensure that we are leveraging most effectively our limited resources and taking best advantage of our global knowledge,” said Viorel Gutu, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Europe and Central Asia. “The Regional Forum on Sustainable Development was another opportunity to continue cooperation and the dialogue that should lead to concrete actions on the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Almost 100 people – representing line ministries, academia and research agencies, the private sector, civil society, and more – joined the side-event on the role of food systems’ transformation in implementing the SDGs in Europe and Central Asia on 13 March. It emphasized that to leverage the potential of transforming food systems, more collaboration and partnerships are needed among various entities and across sectors at all levels. Additionally, the youth representative underscored the importance of youth engagement in shaping climate-smart food systems and provided solutions for their greater representation and participation in decision-making processes.