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Event – Meeting of the Group of Friends on Food Security and Nutrition

Opening remarks delivered by Ambassador Mariangela Zappia, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, at the  meeting of the “Group of Friends on Food Security and Nutrition” on ‘Towards the UN Food Systems Summit and beyond: Addressing the Gender Equality Challenge’ —

Excellencies, dear colleagues, a very good morning or good afternoon to all of you– in New York, Rome, Nairobi and elsewhere – and a warm welcome to this new meeting of the Group of Friends of Food Security and Nutrition. Thank you for your participation today.

I would like to thank the UN Food Systems Summit Secretariat, the UN Foundation, the Rome-based Agencies and the other UN entities involved, for their engagement and great partnership for the organization of these series of meetings.

As agreed during our last meeting, we are convening this Group more frequently this year, in order to coordinate, share actions and reflections and grow momentum towards key relevant moments, particularly towards the UN Food Systems Summit next September, but also to ensure meaningful mainstreaming of food security in the context of the our collective actions for responding to the impact of the pandemic and building back better.

Today, our meeting will have four major focuses:

First. I am honoured to welcome to this Group for the first time Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Permanent Representative of the United States to the UN and current President of the Security Council. I am particularly grateful to her for joining us and for having accepted to brief us after yesterday’s timely Security Council Open Debate on Conflict and Hunger. We welcome the US critical leadership on the matter and their initiative to convene the Open Debate, which drawn a clear connection with our meeting today, also looking at the humanitarian-peace-development nexus. I look forward to hearing from Amb. Thomas-Greenfield in just a few minutes.

Second. We will receive an overview of the progress on the Food Systems Summit process from the Office of the Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Summit, including on the national dialogues and the search for game-changing solutions.

Third, in connection from Rome, we will hear from the Assistant-Director General of FAO, Maurizio Martina, Special Adviser to the DG for the Food Systems Summit, on his plans and vision for this key year. As we saw during the last meeting, the work of the FAO, together with IFAD and WFP and the rest of the UN System is instrumental for the advancement of the Summit’s objectives.

Fourth. Since as we all know March is the Women’s Month, we will have a brief panel of experts on Gender and Food Systems, with voices from Women’s experts and leaders in Africa, Dr. Njuki – Director for Africa of the International Food Policy Research Institute – and Ms. Ewoi, from Etic Women Group-Kenya, and with remarks from the Chair of the W20-Women 20, the official women’s engagement group of the G20, Ms. Linda Laura Sabbadini.

Then, we will open the floor for interactive interventions and questions from all members. We already received several requests for taking the floor so we invite you to signal in the chat if additional PR/DPR wish to intervene. We will try to accommodate all if time will allow and we count on your cooperation to keep remarks as short as possible and to the point.

Before proceeding, I wish to quickly provide updates from the Italian side.

Italy is going to host three high-level, key moments which will be instrumental to the Food Systems Summit. As G20 Presidency, we will host the first ever G20 Joint Foreign Affairs/Development Ministerial Meeting, on June 29th , which main focus will be specifically on food security in order to address the impact of the pandemic on food systems and food security.

In July, also building up on the outcomes of the G20 ministerial, as you know, we will host the Food Systems’ Rome Pre-Summit, which will prepare the Summit here in New York in September. In this regard, we are also working to finalize our financial contribution to the Food Systems Summit.

Then, right before the New York Summit, we will host the G20 Agriculture Ministerial Meeting on 19-20 September in Florence.

All these events will be inter-linked and will advance action-driven outcomes, also building-up on the new mechanisms, such as the “Food Coalition”, launched in partnership with FAO.

Now, without further ado, I wish to start our discussion.