Discorso pronunciato dall’Ambasciatrice Mariangela Zappia, Rappresentante Permanente dell’Italia presso le Nazioni Unite, alla Riunione “Group of Friends on Food Security and Nutrition”
Excellencies, dear colleagues,
thank you very much for attending this first meeting of the year of the Group of Friends on Food Security and Nutrition. Let me also thank FAO Director General, Qu Dongyu, for having joined us today and for his availability in participating in our discussion on the priorities of action for the year 2020 on the issues related to the achievement of SDG2, “Zero Hunger”, and its different targets.
Allow me in the first place to briefly highlight, to the benefit of Mr. Qu and all the other participants that join us today for the first time, the objectives and the fields of actin of the Group of Friends on Food Security and Nutrition. Those can be summarized in three main streams of work:
– Advocacy: it is fundamental to raise awareness in NY on the issues related to SDG2 and on the initiatives carried out to end hunger and ensure safe, nutritious and sufficient food, as well as to promote sustainable production and management of food on a global scale;
– Support: the discussion inside the Group is mainly focused on identifying the activities that the members can put in place to contribute to the efforts of the Secretary General and all the relevant UN actors towards the achievement of the SDG2;
– Coordination: the Group is an important tool to better coordinate the initiatives in support of the UN system actors and to find possible synergies among members in cooperating with the FAO, WFP and IFAD representatives in NY in achieving SDG2.
In kicking-off the activities of the Group of Friends for the year 2020, I would like to highlight that today’s meeting is particularly relevant.
We are at the beginning of a pivotal year, marked by various high-level events that will focus, from different angles, on the protection of the environment and on sustainable development at large. The UN Ocean Conference, the Bio-diversity Summit, the COP15 of the CBD, the COP26 of the UNFCCC, the High Level Dialogue on Desertification, the fourth session of the BBNJ, are all closely interlinked and their outcome will have a direct impact on the realization of SDG 2.
The issue of the conservation and sustainable use of marine and land resources and the protection of biodiversity are, indeed, a fundamental prerequisite for food security and nutrition. As it stated in the FAO Report “The State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture”, published in 2019, biodiversity, at every level from genetic to ecosystem, underpins the capacity of farmers, livestock keepers, forest dwellers and fishers to produce food and a range of other goods and services and is a key resource in efforts to increase output in a sustainable way.
This Group of Friend should therefore advocate for a comprehensive approach and each member should contribute according to its own national perspective in order to ensure that in the framework of all the milestone events of 2020 the issues related to food security and nutrition are appropriately taken into consideration.
At the same time, it is fundamental to connect the dots with what the Secretary General accurately called “the defining issue of our time”: climate change.
Climate change has both direct and indirect effects on agricultural productivity. Global heating is intensifying biodiversity loss, changing rainfall patterns, increasing drought, flooding and forest fires, just to name a few. Because of climate change, the oceans suffer from acidification, deoxygenation, with devastating impacts on the marine life, on fisheries and on those whose livelihoods and nutrition depend on them.
Land resources are the basis for human health, livelihoods and ultimately food security and nutrition. Some 25 per cent of the world’s land is degraded due to the impact of climate change, affecting the lives of 3.2 billion people, particularly smallholder farmers, those in rural communities and the world’s poorest populations. Sustainable management and restoration of degraded lands, as well as achieving land degradation neutrality (SDG 15.3) will indeed not only enhance the capacity of the soil for carbon sequestration, but also provide concrete benefits in terms of food production and populations resilience.
We are therefore convinced that the Group should advocate for a specific attention to be devoted to the activities related to resilience and adaptation in the framework of climate action and, at the same time, to give a specific attention to the Nature Based Solutions initiatives.
I am glad to confirm that in the framework of the partnership that Italy established with the UK to promote a successful and meaningful outcome of COP26, a specific attention will be devoted to both the resilience and adaptation and the Nature Based Solutions aspects. Together with climate finance and clean growth, resilience and adaptation and Nature Based Solutions represents the four pillars of the program of work of the COP26 Presidency.
As it was jointly announced by the Prime Ministers of UK and Italy in London, Italy will host in Milan a “Youth event” and the pre-COP, from 28 September to 2 October. I can confirm that the discussion on food security and its interlinkages with climate action is one of the aspects that Italy intends to specifically encourage in connection with the negotiations of the COP26.
LET ME LOOK FORWARD TO 2021
In approximately 18 months from now the 2021 UN Food System Summit will take place.
This Group of Friends has an important role to play in preparation of this event by advocating for and contributing to a substantive discussion on how to scale up the implementation of SDG 2, and its interlinkages with the other SDGs in a holistic manner, especially as we enter the decisive “Decade of Action” for the 2030 Agenda.
It is my opinion that the Group of Friends should become one of the main partners of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for 2021 Food Systems Summit, Agnes Kalibata, whom we plan on inviting at a future meeting of the Group to share her priorities and lines of action.
As Chair of the Group of Friends on Food Security and Nutrition, I believe it is important to have other meetings throughout the year and to prepare a road to the Food System Summit that could allow us to actively contribute to the preparation of the event. As host country of the Rome Based Agencies, we believe it is fundamental to fully involve in our discussions the representatives of FAO, WFP, IFAD in New York as well as all relevant Funds and Agencies.
Allow me to conclude by highlighting that it is important to see this Group as a team, focused on achieving goals of paramount importance for all the membership. It is therefore my primary objective to define a fully shared and transformative agenda, as well as a concrete plan of action, to be informally agreed in this setting.
In this spirit, I invite all the members to put forward ideas and concrete proposals of joint activities that we can envisage to carry out together in 2020.