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Evento al margine “Fixing the Business of Food – A Critical Cross-Sector Dialogue to Re-Strategize Food Businesses”

Intervento pronunciato dall’Ambasciatrice Mariangela Zappia, Rappresentante Permanente dell’Italia presso le Nazioni Unite, all’Evento al margine “Fixing the Business of Food – A Critical Cross-Sector Dialogue to Re-Strategize Food Businesses” —

Good afternoon and thank you very much for inviting me to open this important discussion and, first of all, I would like to express my appreciation and my gratitude to the Barilla Foundation, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the Center for Sustainable Development at the Columbia University and the Santa Chiara Lab of Siena University.

The presentation of the report “Fixing the business of food” has become a traditional feature of the General Assembly high-level week. Italy is proud to be a supporter and a contributor to such an important discussion.

The report is among the best examples of how the private sector and the scientific community can contribute in a substantial way to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. This becomes even more necessary in the unprecedented situation caused by COVID-19.

“Fixing the business of Food” provides us with a unique perspective. From the point of view of the private sector, the report identifies a concrete set of actions and recommendations, based on evidence and sound data-analysis. Indeed, the “Four Pillars Framework” is a sort of “instruction manual” to guide our efforts towards an active engagement of the private sector in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The publication of the 2020 edition of the report is particularly timely as the international community is responding to the crisis created by virus: a health crisis, which has become very quickly a social and economic crisis, affecting all aspects of our life. 2021 will be a crucial year and we need all “hands on deck” to overcome this unprecedented crisis, especially in those sectors, such as food security and nutrition, which are indispensable elements for the implementation of the whole set of the SDGs.

In 2021 Italy will be entrusted with special responsibilities as the Presidency of the G20 and co-President of the COP26 on climate change, in partnership with the UK. Italy will also host the Global Health Summit, organized together with the European Commission. Moreover, we will play a central role in the Food Systems Summit, as host of the agri-food UN Hub in Rome.

People, Planet and Prosperity will be at the core of the G20 vision as we plan to focus on a series of initiatives on food security and nutrition related issues.

The “Four Pillar Framework” described in the report identifies a series of concrete policy options which could be further developed as Italy takes on these important responsibilities together with our International Partners. Let me give you just few examples:

1.The First Pillar (Beneficial products and strategies): The engagement of the private sector in the promotion of healthy diets and sustainable production of food, is core to the Italian approach to food security and nutrition, as a key element for well-being and sustainability at large. Such an approach has a broader impact in terms of SDGs implementation, due to its implication, among others, on health of the population (SDG3), on the protection of environment and emission reduction (SDG13), on water quality improvement (SDG6), on land preservation (SDG15), and on job creation (SDG8).

2. The Second Pillar (Sustainable business operations and internal processes). One of the elements that has emerged as central in the recent discussions in New York is the urgency to align public and private investment with the SDGs and the Paris Agreement. In the context of its G20 Presidency, Italy will support the creation of a sustainability-related disclosure framework for both public and private investments, which will help increase transparency on available resources and on how they are used in terms of SDGs implementation. A specific focus on human rights and equal opportunities is fundamental to ensure inclusivity and women empowerment.

3. The Third Pillar (Sustainable supply and value chains). The pandemics has further accelerated the need to change and adapt the supply and trading system to make it more resilient to exogenous shocks and to keep it free, fair and non-discriminatory, especially for micro, small and medium enterprises, the small-holders and the consumers, who have been heavily impacted by the lockdown. We need to invest in innovations, such as digital and logistic platforms. The engagement of the private sector is crucial to allow an extended access to all technologies and digital tools by the largest portion of business activities.

4. The Fourth Pillar (Good corporate citizenship). The specific emphasis put on issues related to the rule-of-law and on the fight against illicit financial flows is particularly important.
Italy will focus on initiatives aimed at extending the use of digital technology in tax administration as an accelerator for the “recovering better”. Digital filing mechanisms, online refund procedures, greater use of withholding taxes, should go alongside with investments in digital infrastructures, as enabler for a more efficient and transparent management of private and public resources.

So, to conclude, we are indeed at a turning point. Recovering better from the pandemic requires even more than before a transformative change towards a green, sustainable and inclusive economy. The 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement will continue to be the guiding stars of our action, as we count on the synergies between Governments and the private sector not only as a temporary fix for the crisis, but as a pillar for resilient societies.

Thank you very much.