FAO Liaison Office with the Russian Federation

World Food Day 2021: People, Planet and Prosperity

Photo: ©FAO

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Liaison Office with the Russian Federation in collaboration with the Eurasian Peoples’ Assembly and Moscow State University of Food Production (MGUPP) held a Dialogue on the occasion of World Food Day 2021. 

Oleg Kobiakov, Director of FAO’s Moscow Office and moderator of the discussion, congratulated the participants on the World Food Day that is traditionally celebrated on 16 October. “Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which turned 76, was established exactly on that day. Over these years, with the support of many friends and partners the Organization has achieved a lot, especially in combating hunger, improving life standards of rural population and ensuring quality food for all people on the planet”, said Oleg Kobiakov. 

The Director of FAO’s Moscow Office recalled that “today over 800 million people are affected by hunger. All countries must contribute to the definitive solution of this problem, regardless of income level, economic or other differences.” He also mentioned the UN Food Systems Summit convened in September. 

“During the past 18 months there was large-scale preparation work on our food track for the Food Systems Summit, that culminated on 23 September 2021 in New York”, said Oleg Kobiakov. “The Summit was indeed a unique event – all countries that took part in the Summit held independent dialogues with the broadest participation possible. An unprecedented number of world leaders and non-governmental organizations’ representatives addressed the Summit. It is no coincidence that it acquired the status of “People’s Summit” – that is what it is called now.”  

“Our today’s meeting launches a new dimension in our joint efforts to resolve the tasks formulated at the Summit”, concluded the representative of FAO. 

Aleksey Mayorov, Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Agriculture and Food Policy and Environmental Management, also addressed the meeting (online). He emphasized the importance of the Russian agriculture sector for economic and food security of the country. “We are completely self-sufficient in terms of food supplies, and we steadily expand into new markets”, he added, recalling the urgent need to stabilize food prices. 

Dilyara Ravilova-Borovik, Acting Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to FAO and other UN Agencies in Rome, presented the Russian assessment of the UN Food Systems Summit outcomes. “The event took the discussion of combating hunger and all forms of malnutrition to a qualitatively new level. The international community, including the Russian Federation, was invited to adopt a holistic approach to ensuring food security, from evaluating the state of natural resources to addressing food stereotypes”, said Dilyara Ravilova-Borovik. 

Svetlana Smirnova, First Deputy Secretary-General – Head of the General Secretariat of the Eurasian Peoples’ Assembly, member of the Presidential Council for Interethnic Relations, Chairperson of the Council of Assembly of Peoples’ of Russia, also stressed the importance of further developing independent and national dialogues on food systems and food security both in the Russian Federation and beyond. 

She specially emphasized the need to ensure broad participation in such dialogues, featuring scientific community and private sector, particularly food producers. “We are definitely interested in such fruitful dialogue and engagement with FAO and universities, and I believe we are on the right way”, concluded Svetlana Smirnova. 

“This is a double celebration for us: first, it is the very fact that we discuss all the positive developments in the food industry, and second, our dialogue goes far beyond nutrition and food”, underlined Mikhail Balykhin, Rector of MGUPP. “Today we are talking about health, quality, sustainable development, environmental issues – everything that is within the scope of food systems and food security.” 

“This is a significant shift in perception and attitude towards nutrition and food. We are not just speaking of saturation, but of the whole industry of health – and that is a new big paradigm”, summed up Mikhail Balykhin. 

Alexandra Ochirova, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for the Russian Federation, expressed regret over the fact that “humanities missed the advent of globalization” – the phenomenon due to which “man is no longer the measure of all things”, entangled in the cobweb of consumer society. Ambassador Ochirova pointed to the need of an integrated approach to food, especially in the light of COVID-19 pandemic lessons.  

“Food security problems should be regarded as part of humanitarian security, information security and as a human rights issue. Food security is at the heart of people-centered, civilisation approach towards sustainable development”, added Alexandra Ochirova. 

The resolution of agrifood issues, in the view of Alexandra Ochirova, should be aligned with the aim of “saving the people with a focus on morality and responsibility”. 

Tatiana Volodko, Head of the Division of International Organizations at the Russian Ministry of Agriculture, stressed the negative impact of the pandemic on achieving SDG2 concerned with eliminating hunger and the functioning of agriculture sector, and noted that “the existing agrifood systems need transformation to ensure stable work towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda”. 

Yelizaveta Tarasova, First Vice-rector for Academic Work at Belgorod University of Cooperation, Economy and Law (BUKEP), Doctor of Economics, Professor Executive Director of the UNESCO Chair “Education for Sustainable Development of Cooperatives”, talked about the university’s activities in food production, specially mentioning the cooperative nature of the university’s engagement. Yelizaveta Tarasova called for developing cooperation and interaction in agriculture sector at all levels to achieve SDGs. 

Aleksandr Panin, Member of RAS, spoke of threats to human health associated with animal products, identifying two main categories: natural and human-induced threats. He also presented solutions for food industry problems, underlining the need to transform traditional approaches to the production of animal-derived food. 

In conclusion of the Conference on World Food Day 2021 in Russia, Oleg Kobiakov, Director of FAO’s Moscow Office, said that the Russian convenors and participants in the national dialogue on food systems responded to the calls – including those of Sergei Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, who addressed the Summit – to continue the dialogue after the New York top-level event is over. Our today’s meeting, announced at the UN main website as a new dialogue, is the first step towards implementing the outcomes of the Summit in Russia and in other countries with Russian support, and we invite a wide range of partners to join this work”. 

The recorded remarks of the speakers are available here.