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World Food Day 2020 - Virtual Event

Date:

10/16/2020


World Food Day 2020 - Virtual Event

Opening remarks delivered by Ambassador Mariangela Zappia, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, at the World Food Day 2020 Virtual Event on the occasion of the FAO’s 75th anniversary with the theme “Grow, nourish, sustain. Together. "---

Thank you very much dear Carla and, of course, I want to thank the Secretary General, the President of the General Assembly and the President of the ECOSOC for their very important remarks, dear Colleagues and Friends.

As Chair of the Group of Friends of Food Security and Nutrition in New York but also promoter and member of the “Food Coalition” in Rome, as well as the Host Country of FAO, WFP and IFAD, I am truly honored to celebrate the World Food Day and the 75th Anniversary of the establishment of the FAO.

The creation of the FAO, in 1945, was a milestone in the history of the United Nations System. It started a virtuous process that, through the subsequent establishment of WFP in 1961 and IFAD in 1977, was the first, fundamental step of the International Community in concretely addressing the issue of hunger at global level.

As President Mattarella, the President of the Republic of Italy this morning said in Rome, 75 years after, the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the WFP is the greatest acknowledgement of how far-sighted of that choice was. It is a testimony of the extraordinary job done by the WFP, together with all the other actors of the UN System on the ground, under exceptional circumstances and enormous pressure. It also a testimony of the capacity of the UN to deliver concrete results and a confirmation of the centrality of the multilateral system in the response to this unprecedented crisis.

I am also particularly happy because Italy played maybe a small but nevertheless very significant role in this extraordinary result. Not only Italy, being the host Country of the Programme, is a staunch supporter of the WFP activities, both in political and financial terms. It is also contributing through the Brindisi logistical center - the first one of this kind and celebrating this year its 20th Anniversary - which has been the central hub for the emergency interventions carried out by WFP in Africa and the Mediterranean regions, among the most vulnerable areas of the planet. That hub has to function like a Swiss watch and indeed it does.

Many remarkable results have been achieved since 1945 but, unfortunately as it was said there is no room for complacency. And COVID-19 crisis risks to jeopardize many of the positive results achieved in the latest years.

The pandemics is heavily affecting our economies, our supply chains and, therefore, our capacity to deliver an adequate quantity of safe and nutritious food to our population.

The situation is dire and we must keep our focus on the need to provide an effective response to the crisis and, at the same time, on the urgency to work in a cohesive and coordinated way to create more effective, resilient and sustainable food systems in the “recovering better” phase.

It is fundamental, in the first place, to focus on workers in the food supply chains, as well as on small-holder farmers and on the workforce involved in the processing and distribution of food. Together with the workers of the health sector, let me tell you, these categories are the veritable heroes of this difficult time.

The designation of agricultural and food sector workers as essential ones - a measure that Italy adopted since the outset of the pandemic - is a basic element that could lead to several other actions, such as tax exemptions for independent workers, incentives for agriculture and food distribution sectors, that are essential for the resilience of food systems.

Furthermore, it is crucial to focus on the elimination of all barriers to food movement, on the reduction of food waste, on the extended use of digitalization and innovation in the supply chains, as well as on initiatives aimed at providing financial support to the MPMI and to the categories of workers, especially women and informal workers, that are the most exposed to the consequences of the crisis.

The 2021 Food Systems Summit will provide us with a unique opportunity to concretely tackle all these fundamental elements. And Italy is really looking forward to contributing to it in a proactive and tangible way, also in its position as member of the Advisory Board and also with the pre-Summit meeting in Rome next summer.

As announced by Prime Minister Conte during the High Level Week of the UNGA, it is our intention to put an emphasis on SDG2 in the framework of the Italian Presidency of the G20 in 2021, with a synergetic approach to the action carried out by Italy in the framework of the partnership with the UK on CoP26 and in all other International Fora, including the Global Health Summit which will be hosted by Italy together with the European Union Commission next year.

The active engagement of the private sector, the academia and civil society is an indispensable prerequisite for the achievement of the ambitious goals that we have to pursue.

As Chair of the Group of Friends on Food Security and Nutrition here in New York, we stand ready, Italy stands ready to support the UN system in achieving all these important goals. And a special thank you also to you Carla for the work you have done and good luck with your next endeavor.

Thank you very much.

 


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