FAO Liaison Office in New York

PGA event leverages South-South Cooperation to combat hunger


On 12 February 2020, President of the 74rth Session of the General Assembly Tijjani Muhammad-Bande held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York an interactive dialogue focused on exploring ways to combat increasing hunger around the world, specifically by making the most of the opportunities brought about by the South-South and Triangular Cooperation in the agriculture sector.

Muhammad-Bande opened the event stating that "Hunger is a scourge unbefitting of our era.” He then went on to note the interconnection between hunger and poverty: "Our efforts to achieve Zero Hunger must feed into the overarching framework for poverty eradication."

Echoing these thoughts, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Qu Dongyu offered: "We need smarter agriculture that values and remunerates the contributions of small-scale producers, fishers, pastoralists and indigenous peoples, not only to food but also to preserving biodiversity and maintaining ecosystem services." Qu went on to note that "The goal is to understand where and how investment, innovation, policy and institutional change can help in making agri-food system transformation a driver for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.” The FAO Director-General concluded his opening remarks stating that "FAO can do a lot but together we can do more and faster.”

Director of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation and Envoy of the Secretary-General on South-South Cooperation Jorge Chediek rounded up the opening segment by presenting concrete examples of how South-South knowledge-sharing helps to empower countries lead their own development processes. “We have also recently launched South-South Galaxy, a global knowledge sharing and partnership brokering platform where Southern partners will be able to publish their development solutions and needs, and connect with the United Nations (UN) System,” said Chediek.

Achieving sustainability in agriculture with concrete policy-making

The event featured two panels with speakers representing the government, farmers and civil society. The first panel discussion was moderated by Special Adviser to the UN Foundation Christine Negra, and focused on evidence-based policy making for sustainable agriculture and food systems to combat hunger.

Chief Executive Officer of the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency Khalid Bomba shared how one of the fastest economies in the world is approaching agriculture: “Ethiopia’s focus has shifted considerably in the past few years to re-orient the public sector on public good investments, while creating space for the private sector, and empowering local communities.”

“It is crucial to render farming into an economically more attractive and socially more rewarding career in developing countries,” intoned Co-Chair of the Independent Group of Scientists appointed by the UN Secretary-General for the 2019 Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR), and former Deputy Minister of Indonesia’s National Development Planning Agency Endah Murniningtyas.

Pivot Bio Sustainability and Public Affairs Manager Keira Havens placed emphasis on the expanded role of farmers as primary land managers. Havens encouraged policy-makers and markets to take into account the multi-faceted responsibilities taken on by farmers.

The first panel discussion was concluded with Ghanaian farmer Lydia Sasu, Executive Director of the Development Action Association, who referenced the role of gender equality in agricultural transformation. “Empowering rural women in the agriculture sectors is required if we want to build resilient livelihoods and food systems,” said Sasu. After the event, Sasu met with FAO Director-General and shared some candid stories from her experiences in the field.

Leveraging South-South Cooperation to combat hunger

The second panel was moderated by World Food Programme Director of the UN System African Union & Multilateral Engagement Division Coco Ushiyama. The primary focus of discussions was on the role of South-South and Triangular Cooperation facilitating knowledge-sharing, knowledge-building, and leveraging investments in agriculture and food systems to combat hunger.

Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network Jeffrey Sachs opened the panel discussion stressing that the success of the 2030 Agenda hinges on solving the financial aspect of the Sustainable Development Goals at global level.

“South-South and Triangular Cooperation as a key mechanism for us to deliver relevant, targeted and cost-effective development solutions,” noted Senior Partnership Officer at the International Fund for Agricultural Development Ama Brandford-Arthur.

Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA) Coordinator Alexandre Varella shared examples of technologies developed by EMBRAPA to combat hunger, and expressed willingness to channel the South-South and Triangular Cooperation to target the eradication of poverty, hunger and malnutrition in Brazil.

Special Advisor to the Minister of Agriculture and Environment of Cabo Verde Eneida Rodrigues Silva also indicated her trust in the South-South Cooperation, specifying that “we have tangible experiences proving that it can accelerate the adoption of sustainable food production systems.”

For more information on the event, including the agenda and a photo gallery, visit our dedicated webpage.