FAO Liaison Office in New York

FAO at the HLPF 2022

18/07/2022

Revisit the latest FAO engagements at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) and the main takeaways from discussions spanning the many areas across which transforming our agrifood systems stand to accelerate progress on the 2030 Agenda. 

In 2022, FAO has actively engaged in the preparatory process of the HLPF. In this respect, FAO Governing Bodies and the Committee on World Food Securityhave provided valuable inputs.FAO also participated in the Experts Group Meetings(EGMs) on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under review, in particular contributing to the EGMs for SDGs 14 and 15. In addition, FAO participated in the ECOSOC Coordination Segment and the 60thSession of the Commission for Social Development, including with interventions from the FAO Director-General. 

The 2022 HLPF will take stock of the impact of COVID-19 and other ongoing crises on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. It will also conduct an in-depth review of SDG 4 on quality education,  SDG 5 on gender equality, SDG 14 on life below water, SDG 15 on life on land, and SDG 17 on partnerships for the Goals. 

Ahead and during HLPF, do visit  the FAO at HLPF key messages and stay informed on the daily updates and takeaways from FAO participation at this year’s HLPF, taking place under the guiding theme, Buildingback better from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’. 

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18 July, New York – Convened by the 76th President of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), Abdulla Shahid, today’s Special High-level Event on Food Security, entitled ‘Time to Act Together: Coordinating Policy Responses to the Global Food Crisis,’ afforded a platform to discuss on strategies and policy options in response to the increasingly interconnected drivers of hunger, including recent skyrocketing food and agricultural input prices. 

The FAO Chief Economist, Máximo Torero, spoke on the state and prospects of the global food crisis, especially on the heels of the evolution of food commodity prices and the latest chronic hunger and food insecurity findings presented during the launch of the 2022 edition of ‘The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World’ report. From the still-present effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and economic slowdowns and downturns, to the increasingly recurrent climate extremes and the impacts of conflict and war, Torero touched on the threats to global food security as multi-faceted and closely interwoven among them.

Torero also touched on rising food import bills, further limiting the access to healthy diets. If we only look to the 62 most vulnerable countries in terms of balance of payments, Torero explained, the food import bill has increased by $24.6 billion”, he said.

Essentially, the world’s most vulnerable are paying more for less food. These prices spikes and volatility, together with climate variability and other factors, is the latest clarion call for building long-term resilience across the food and agriculture sectors, especially from a perspective of supporting rural and agricultural livelihoods. Read more here, watch the recording, and access the presentation by the FAO Chief Economist.

18 July, New York – The Ministerial Declaration was adopted by consensus by the High-Level Political Forum on 15 July and by the ECOSOC High-Level Segment today, 18 July. Overall, language on food security and nutrition and agriculture and food systems is strongly featured in the 2022 Ministerial Declaration, even if SDG 2 was not under review this year. Notably, Paragraph 128 refers to the UN Food Systems Summit and to the UN Food Systems Coordination Hub as having the mandate to report to the HLPF.

The Ministerial Declaration also refers to the One Health approach and the Quadripartite Partnership in Paragraph 15. Likewise, it mentions the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture 2022, the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021–2030and stresses the urgency to achieve global food security and the importance of food systems transformations throughout the text.

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15 July, New York – At today's side event 'Food system transformations as 2030 Agenda accelerators', the Director of the FAO Office of Sustainable Development Goals, Stefanos Fotiou, spoke on the follow up to the UN Food Systems Summit, supported by the Food Systems Coordination Hub. Comprised by FAO, IFAD, UNEP, WFP, WHO, and DCO – and housed at FAO on behalf of the UN system – the Hub aims to support countries leverage financial and other resources to accelerate the implementation of national pathways for transformations in our agrifood systems. 

Co-hosted by the Dominican Republic, Kenya, Nigeria, Portugal and Spain, today's discussions served to highlight the catalytic role of transformed agrifood systems in rescuing the 2030 Agenda, in particular the SDG 2 – Zero Hunger.  

With the follow up to the UN Food Systems Summit anchored in country-led and country-owned transformation pathways, today's event helped reaffirm the timeliness of understanding Member States' needs, opportunities, and barriers in implementing these national efforts, poised to have global impact.  

“We are not going to achieve the 2030 Agenda if we don't push for a food systems transformation that is more resilient and more sustainable,” Fotiou said, who is also the Director of the Hub. This was echoed by the Chairperson of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), Gabriel Ferrero. "Sustainable agriculture and food systems are the most powerful accelerator to deliver poverty eradication, shared prosperity, and to preserve our ecosystems and planet,” he said. 

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14 July, New York – This morning kicked off with the Director of the FAO Land and Water Division, Lifeng Li, participating at the SDG Special Event Virtual Dialogue, hosted by UN Water, to discuss and promote concrete commitments to the Water Action Agenda, a transformative voluntary mechanism of the UN 2023 Water Conference. The virtual dialogue also helped identify pathways which the UN Water family can pursue, in unison, to contribute to the Conference in 2023.  

Lifeng Li spoke on FAO's work on the national water roadmaps towards 2030 and the SDGs – a call for the global SDG 6 targets and key deliverables to be localized and adapted to country contexts. "The National Water Roadmap must recognize the values of water from social, economic, and environmental perspectives," Li said, pointing to how high-level water management and allocation principles and guidance are urgently needed, in order to ensure water quality and availability to meet society's multiple and competing needs.  

To this end, FAO's work on national water roadmaps will enable countries to make strategic choices on water allocation to different sectors, users, and regions, especially against a backdrop of increasing water stress and uncertainty in a changing climate. 

14 July, New York – On the margins of the HLPF, today we saw the Informal Briefing on the Food Systems Coordination Hub, co-organized by FAO, IFAD WFP and WHO, where the Director of the FAO Office of Sustainable Development Goals and director of the hub, Stefanos Fotiou, spoke and presented the ways in which the Hub is supporting countries in their food system transformation pathways. 

In outlining the Hub's work plan and overarching coordination within the UN system and other stakeholders, Fotiou underlined the guiding purpose of the Hub: support countries advance national food systems pathways, helping them map needs, leverage financing, develop and implement national their pathways, working with the UN System including UN Country teams, the ecosystem of support and stakeholders to accelerate food systems transformations and accelerate progress to the 2030 Agenda.    

Fotiou also spoke of the work ahead of the stocktaking moment planned for 2023, which will further add momentum and direction to the Hub's work in support of the holistic transformation of our agrifood systems that our planet and humankind at large is urgently calling for. 

FAO is hosting the UN Food Systems Coordination Hub on behalf of the UN system, with oversight of the Hub falling on a Steering Group comprised of the Principals of FAO, IFAD, WFP, DCO, and UNEP (on behalf of the UN Systems Task Force). As such, today's informal briefing session served as an interactive dialogue through which to share insights about the mandate of the Hub, about the scope of its work plan moving forward, and as a window into the main achievements during the first months of its work since January 2022. 

Revisit the full presentation on the Food Systems Coordination Hub and have your FAQs about the Hub answered here.

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13 July, New York – Today we saw the FAO Deputy Director-General, Beth Bechdol, participate at the side event 'Accelerating SDG progress in uncertain times: Integrating the drivers of development impact'. Discussions zoomed in on the challenges and opportunities ahead of us in delivering on the SDGs, despite multiple and overlapping shocks and sustainability priorities.  

Speaking on the power of agrifood systems as a leverage and catalytic avenue to spur SDG progress in the right direction and speed, Bechdol outlined the many reasons why agrifood systems "are a fundamental piece of our overall sustainability puzzle". She noted their potential to catalyze several positive changes, not only in the food and agriculture sectors, but also across energy, transportation, water and urban area systems.  

From being able to deliver affordable and healthy diets, to playing a central role in the protection and restoration of our natural ecosystems, agrifood systems, Bechdol added, need to offer more solutions to increase the incomes of small-scale farmers, spur rural development, and reduce poverty. 

"To realize the potential of agrifood systems, we urgently need to take actions, but not in isolation of one another – not just as FAO, not just as the UN system – but with new partners and new models of engagement," she said. Watch the recording. 

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12 July, New York – Today's side event 'The SDGs at a turning point: ensuring progress amid recurring crises' saw a presentation by the FAO Chief Economist, Máximo Torero, on the latest findings, trends, and policy recommendations from the recently launched 2022 edition of 'The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World' report. 

The side event discussed the impacts of multiple crises on the achievement of the SDGs and policy implications. As part of the interactive discussion with Member States on their visions and suggestions to ensure that the promises of the 2030 Agenda are delivered, the FAO Chief Economist outlined the differences and connections between chronic undernourishment and moderate to severe food insecurity, the two SDG indicators making up SDG 2 and for which FAO is the custodian UN entity. He also pointed to how the COVID-19 pandemic has widened existing inequalities, including in the access to food and healthy diets, with increases in chronic hunger and food insecurity witnessed across all regions. 

Also worth noting, Torero said, is looking at these numbers from a gender lens. "The gender gap in food insecurity has grown in 2020 under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic and has widened even more between 2020 and 2021," he said. In calling for a rethinking of agrifood systems and repurposing of financial and investment support to the agrifood sector, Torero spoke of the importance of repurposing subsidies that contribute to making healthy diets more accessible and affordable, while still managing policy and economic trade-offs across different sectors. 

Revisit the presentation by the FAO Chief Economist. 

11 July, New York – The start of the second week of HLPF today featured the early morning side event 'Building back better: Pathways for a green recovery advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development', co-hosted by FAO, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests and the International Tropical Timber Organization.

Discussions examined how three forest pathways can help the world recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and combat crises which are threatening life on land, while generating sustainable economic benefits for a green recovery.  These are (i) halting deforestation and maintaining forests given their role in climate, biodiversity and water cycles; (ii) restoring degraded lands and expanding agroforestry to build up the asset base for recovery and nurture people and the planet; and (iii) sustainably use forests and build green value chains a more circular, carbon-neutral and inclusive future, leaving no one behind particularly in rural areas.

The Deputy Director of the FAO Forestry Division, Ewald Rametsteiner shared concluding remarks anchored in building forward through investments in forest-based solutions. He pointed to today's important discussions and exchanges make the irrefutable case that there cannot be a healthy economy on an unhealthy planet. 

"What is really important is this capacity of forest and trees – and forestry – if done properly, to provide a lot of benefits, and help a range of SDGs," he said. Watch the recording.

11 July, New York – Later in the morning we also saw the Director of the FAO Office of Sustainable Development Goals and Coordinator of the Food Systems Coordination Hub, Stefanos Fotiou, facilitating the consultation session of the Coalition for Innovation, Circularity, and Entrepreneurship (CICE) on Collective Action Catalyst for SME-led Circular Low-Carbon Economy Transition, held in hybrid modalities at the UNEP Office in New York. Fotiou highlighted FAO support to the Coalition and stressed the importance of local dimensions, opportunities, and challenges in the context of SMEs and food systems. He also invited Coalition partners to work together and collectively identify a work plan. 

Echoing Fotiou’s call to action, Claudia Scuriatti, Sustainable Development Specialist at the FAO Liaison Office with the UN in NY, added that small and medium agrifood enterprises are crucial to ensuring food security, promote resilience at the local level, and create job opportunities for youth in the agri-food sector. As a follow up item to the meeting, participants proposed that the Coalition afford attention to working on three areas: (i) digital solutions for sustainable development, (ii) climate actions, and (iii) safeguarding biodiversity through our food systems. 

11 July, New York – Today we also heard from the Deputy Director of the FAO Forestry Division, Ewald Rametsteiner, who highlighted the importance of collectively working on protection, restoration, and sustainable forest use, with far reaching benefits across all other SDGs, at the FAO statement delivered during the HLPF session on 'SDG 15 and interlinkages with other SDGs – Life on Land'. 

Rametsteiner recalled the recently launched 'The State of the World’s Forests' report and the importance to implement pathways to protect, restore, and promote the sustainable use of forest resources. "To advance these pathways, we need political commitment, investments and – importantly – a strong involvement of smallholders, local communities and indigenous peoples," Rametsteiner said.

Watch the recording here and read the full statement from FAO at the HLPF session on SDG 15.

11 July, New York – The Director of the FAO Office of Sustainable Development Goals and Coordinator of the Food Systems Coordination Hub, Stefanos Fotiou, joined today the side event 'Leveraging interlinkages among the SDGs to realize the 2030 Agenda and build back better from COVID-19'. 

Fotiou called for a systems-wide rethinking response to the many and interconnected sustainability challenges of our time, moving away from sectoral approaches only.

"The five SDGs under in-depth review this year represent big problems of sustainability, such as inequality and environmental destruction, but they also represent the solutions, which must include education, finance and partnerships," Fotiou said. 

Stefanos also stressed the importance of reflecting commitments and action into national budgets and to help policy makers understand how to transform the potential of interlinkages into concrete action. 

11 July, New York – At the HLPF session 'Small Island Developing States – Building back better in vulnerable situations', FAO highlighted the importance of stepping up support to agrifood systems in SIDS, including the sustainable management of ocean and fisheries resources, to bridge productivity gaps in the local production of nutritious foods, enable income generation to improve the affordability of healthy diets, and promote local development when linked to other sectors, such as the tourism industry.

“To achieve this, we need to strengthen enabling environments for food security and nutrition at the national and regional levels, build capacity, improve the resilience and nutrition sensitivity of food systems, engage local communities, strengthen partnerships and increase development assistance. The follow-up to the Food Systems Summit provides a strong impetus to push this agenda forward and harness the potential of transforming agrifood systems to accelerate progress towards delivering on the SAMOA Pathway and the entire 2030 Agenda," said Stefanos Fotiou, Director of the FAO Office of Sustainable Goals.

Watch the recording here and read the full statement from FAO.

7 July, New York – Today started with Stefanos Fotiou, Director of the FAO Office of Sustainable Development Goals, moderating an interactive discussion as part of the side event 'The role of cooperatives in accelerating progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals'. The side event was organized by the Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives (COPAC), integrated by the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), ILO, UNDESA, FAO and ITC. 

Under the theme 'Cooperatives Build a Better World' and in observance of International Day of Cooperatives 2022, discussions recognized that the current predominant economic model will not achieve the SDGs, pointing to the important role of cooperatives in contributing to many SDG targets in tandem. 

Agricultural cooperatives bring solutions for the advancement of the SDGs, especially when based on an agrifood systems transformation, Fotiou said. He added that by bringing them closer to national and global processes, they stand to create benefits for small-scale and family farmers, many of whom are organized in cooperatives, and who can walk the talk on sustainability as vital actors in transforming our agrifood systems. 

7 July, New York – Bringing the day to a close today was the HLPF official programme session 'SDG 14 and interlinkages with other SDGs – Life below water', during which Stefanos Fotiou, the Director of the FAO Office of SDGs, delivered a statement on behalf of FAO. 

The sustainable management of oceans is an accelerator for all SDGs, Fotiou said, adding that a Blue Transformation needs to be seen as a catalyst for sustainable food system transformation as well. This Blue Transformation, Fotiou explained, needs to be anchored in sustainable aquaculture intensification and expansion; effective management of all fisheries; and upgraded value chains that ensure the social, economic and environmental viability of aquatic food systems.  

The statement delivered by FAO highlighted progress towards the fisheries indicators of SDG 14, showing evidence that effective management of fishery resources is the best conservation strategy. There is evidence of progress in ensuring the contribution of fisheries to GDP, particularly in SIDS and least developed countries, for example, and economic returns could increase further with effective management that recovers stocks and restores degraded ecosystems, in line also with the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, FAO co-leads with UNEP.

FAO also welcomed the recent landmark agreement on fisheries subsidies at WTO and stressed the need to enforce the existing global binding tools against illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fisheries that were already in force.  

The important role of small-scale fisheries, being celebrated this year in the 2022 International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture, was also highlighted. The implementation of the FAO Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries will support this effort, FAO said.  

Watch the recording and read the full statement.

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6 July, New York – Today we saw the launch of the 2022 edition of the flagship report 'The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the Worldat an HLPF Special Event.  

Attending the launch in-person, FAO Director-General, QU Dongyu, highlighted the need to rethink the way we produce and consume food, the relationship between humanity and nature, and what is at stake as the world redouble efforts to achieving the SDGs. 

"We call for governments to replace policy measures that are inefficient, unsustainable and inequitable, with measures that incentivize the production and consumption of nutritious foods, and make healthy diets more affordable," the FAO Director-General said. Read his full statement. 

According to SOFI, a joint publication by FAO with IFAD, WHO, WFP and UNICEP, up to 828 million people went hungry in 2021 – 150 million more since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic - and 3.1 billion people were unable to afford healthy diets.  

Presenting the report's main findings, FAO Chief Economist Máximo Torero gave a bleak assessment of the situation: in the face of inaction and an absence of transformed agrifood systems, "updated projections indicate that more than 670 million people may still be hungry in 2030, far from the Zero Hunger target and the level in 2015, the year when the SDGs were agreed". Revisit his presentation. 

Read more here and watch the recording of the launch event. 

6 July, New York – Immediately following the launch of the SOFI 2022 report, FAO Chief Economist Máximo Torero briefed journalists in person from the UN in New York at a press conference organized by the Office of the Spokesperson of the Secretary-General.  

Torero outlined the current world hunger and malnutrition situation and spoke of the need to repurpose agricultural support and investments and tap into mutually reinforcing efficiency gains to reduce hunger, mainly (i) prioritize countries with the highest food import bills (ii) reduce food loss and waste and; (iii) ensure more efficient fertilizer use. 

“The goal is to accelerate the resilience-building process across three dimensions: early warning systems, shock absorptive capacity, and building back better by tapping into these efficiency gains,” he said. 

Read more here and watch the recording. 

6 July, New York – Closing off today's FAO participation at HLPF, Lucas Tavares, Senior Liaison Officer at the FAO Liaison Office with the UN in New York, delivered a statement on behalf of FAO during the HLPF's official programme session 'African countries, Least Developed Countries and Landlocked Developing Countries - Ensuring equal access to vaccines and resources in the poorest countries'. 

Discussions centered on reducing global inequalities and mobilizing adequate financing to move the SDGs forward, mindful of the specific challenges and opportunities of these groups of countries. 

Tavares explained FAO's efforts to support African countries, LDCs and LLDCs, including through the Hand-in-Hand initiative, that aims at accelerating agricultural transformation and sustainable rural development to end poverty, hunger and malnutrition, and through the proposed Food Import Finance Facility to help vulnerable countries deal with rising food prices. 

Watch the recording and read the full statement.  

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5 July, New York – It's a go! The HLPF started today with strong in-person participation. The FAO Director-General delivered keynote remarks at this morning’s HLPF opening session. He set the scene for urgent concerted action to accelerate progress on the SDGs, pointing to the increasingly challenging and interconnected sustainability challenges before us. 

Qu warned that the world is at serious risk of a food access crisis now and a likely food availability crisis next season, given the complex food security scenario we are facing. He also explained how the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31, that reflects FAO’s full commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, is guiding the Organization's response to these challenges and is poised to helpaccelerate the SDGs through the transformation to more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable agrifood systems.” 

The Director-General also pointed to the followup to the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit as an opportune platform to complement our vision for a future food secure world. “FAO is proud to host the UN Food Systems Coordination Hub, on behalf of the UN system, under strong leadership of the Secretary-General and the Deputy Secretary-General,” Qu remarked, speaking of the Hub’s support to countries in implementing their agrifood systems pathways, as well affording capacity development and finance leveraging support. 

Echoing this resolve in their opening remarks was the host of the HLPF and President of ECOSOC, Collen Vixen Kelapile, who stressed the urgency for the international community to come together to address conflicts, while also addressing the multiple crises we are facing, from food insecurity to climate change and persistent poverty, as well as rooted inequalities. On her part, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed spoke of the required transitions across the realms of renewable energy, food systems and digital connectivity, and in investment in human capital, in order to meet the SDG targets. 

Watch the recording of the opening session, read more here and revisit the full statement delivered by the FAO Director-General. 

5 July, New YorkThe FAO–UN Womenside-event, ‘Agrifood systems transformation for a resilient world: Responding the global crises, took in hybrid format at lunch time. The event facilitated frank discussions on how and why the transformation of agrifood systems calls for a paradigm shift, anchored in robust systemic reforms to address rising and interconnected challenges related to hunger, malnutrition, rural poverty, and environmental imperatives. 

Delivering opening remarks was the FAO Director-General, Qu Dongyu, who spoke of the untapped opportunities behind agrifood systems to build forward better. To decrease vulnerabilities and accelerate the process to achieve the SDGs, we must also produce better and more, with less negative impact on the environment. Our agrifood systems need to ensure food security for all, and be economically viable,” he said. 

Moderating a roundtable discussion session with UN senior leaders was the FAO Chief Economist, Máximo Torero. Speaking of the current progress on delivering on the SDGs and with eyes on 2030, Torero said: “We are moving in the incorrect direction and at the incorrect velocity.” Against this backdrop, he added that “agrifood systems transformation has to start to play a role, not least since the agricultural and food sector is central to millions of rural and peri-urban lives and livelihoods, generating employment for many and remaining vital in our practices to manage, restore, and sustain our nature, soils, water, and land.  

The side event continued with a dialogue with countries and thought leaders, featuring lessons and ideas from countries and their respective efforts on the road to transforming their food and agricultural sectors. The FAO Director of the Office of Sustainable Development Goals, Stefanos Fotiou, moderated the segment and stressed that agrifood systems are part of the solution to accelerate progress across all SDGs – not only those linked to hunger eradication. 

Watch the recording 

5 July, New YorkWrapping up FAO's participation in this first day at HLPF, FAO contributed to the HLPF session on ‘SDGs in focus: SDG 17 and interlinkages with other SDGs’ event. In a written statement, FAO underlined that agrifood systems were a fundamental piece of the sustainability puzzle, with the potential to catalyze several positive changes, not only in the agriculture and food sectors but also acrossother systems. FAO’s contributions to SDG 17 reflect the interconnectedness of the 2030 Agenda and the role that investments in agrifood systems can play in bringing a more secure and sustainable food future forward.