Food Coalition gains momentum as food security is featured on the G20 agenda

FAO and Italy call for global alliance and commitment to address COVID-19 impacts

14 April 2021, Rome -  Worsening hunger levels and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic called for a fresh approach and a strengthened commitment to global action ahead of the Group of 20 (G20) to prevent a food crisis, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Italian Government.

Italy's Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Marina Sereni, on Wednesday joined FAO at an informal virtual briefing to promote the Food Coalition , a global alliance established by FAO in November 2020 after it was proposed by the Italian Government in response to the pandemic.  

Sereni confirmed that food security would be featured strongly on the Group of 20 agenda this year as Italy assumes the role of the G20 presidency.

"The G20 will represent a unique opportunity for collective action to accelerate progress towards Zero Hunger and Food Security," Sereni said.

The deputy minister also announced that Italy would contribute €2 million to the Food Coalition's operational activities this year in addition to the €1 million it has already contributed initially.

She noted that FAO is committed to engage with the G20 Presidency on several fronts, and the UN agency has been invited to participate in key events, including the Foreign Affairs and Development Joint Ministerial Session (Matera and Brindisi, 29 and 30 June); the Environment Ministers' Meeting and Climate and Energy Ministers' Meeting (Naples, 22 and 23 July) and the Agriculture Ministers' Meeting (Florence, 19 and 20 September).

FAO's Chief Economist, Maximo Torero, spoke about increasing levels of hunger and malnutrition and how the worsening incidence of global food insecurity was shifting from Asia to Africa.  Torero said the role of the Food Coalition would be discussed at the joint session of G20 Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Development which will be held in Matera and Brindisi on 29 and 30 June.

He encouraged participants to get involved as a means to contribute to the G20 which, he noted, would focus on : a global humanitarian response plan ; economic inclusion and social protection to reduce poverty ; reduction of food loss and waste ; and food systems transformation ahead of this year's UN Food Systems Summit in September.

Torero invited members to formulate submissions with support from FAO's COVID-19 and technical teams before the G20 Agriculture Ministers' meeting to be held in Florence on 19 and 20 September.

Opening the event, Deputy Director General Beth Bechdol stated that the Food Coalition is a means for unified action to build sustainability and resilience for the world's poorest and most vulnerable. 

She told more than 200 event participants that new types of engagement, resources and knowledge were needed to overcome the long-term impacts of COVID-19, which was making it increasingly impossible for many countries to reach the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

Bechdol stressed the Food Coalition would be a key ‘'mobilizer'' for political, financial and technical support and encouraged Members to become involved in order to support the response and recovery from COVID-19 and to create more resilient agri-food systems around the world.

The Food Coalition's planning and proposed actions so far were the clear result of regular dialogue with nearly 40 members who expressed their early interest to be a part of the coalition, she said.

Photo: ©FAO/Giuseppe Bizzarri
A farmer inspecting a maize crop in Haiti.