OTTAWA, Canada – Emanuela Claudia Del Re, vice minister of foreign affairs of Italy, as chair of the Group of Friends of Food Security and Nutrition in New York, Karina Gould, minister of international development of Canada, the Orlando Leite Ribeiro, vice-minister for trade and international relations of the ministry of agriculture livestock and food supply, and the high-level representative of Egypt, ambassador Mohamed Edrees permanent representative to the UN, today issued the following statement:
“On Friday, April 17th, we convened an extraordinary virtual video conference bringing together Ambassadors from across the entire membership of the United Nations with the participation of the president of the general assembly, the deputy secretary-general, the president of IFAD, the executive director of WFP, the chief economist and assistant director-general of FAO and the special envoy for the 2021 Food Systems Summit to exchange views and experiences on actions that may be taken to mitigate the potential socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 on food availability and supply and to attain food security. We thank the more than 270 participants who attended.
“We were seized by the real concerns that the current health crisis could trigger a food crisis in many regions of the world, especially in Africa and Small Islands Developing States, further imperiling the health and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people, in particular in fragile contexts. Such a crisis could lead to additional negative consequences to health. Signs of disruptions to food supply chains are already visible as countries move to enact measures to halt the pandemic.
“We were reminded of how many countries rely heavily on regular imports of basic staples and food distribution channels.
“There are particular vulnerabilities in many developing countries in Africa and parts of Asia and Latin America, including among least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, and small island developing states, where agriculture is the backbone of the economy and employment. Local, regional, and global food security will depend more than ever on strengthening the resilience of food systems to withstand multiple shocks, and also on helping smallholder farmers, fishers, pastoralists and food processors – many of whom are women – obtain inputs, plant and harvest their crops, and sell their products for a fair price in a safe environment.
“We were struck by the urgent call for action, taking into account the upcoming planting and harvest seasons and the need to enhance the resilience of the food supply chain, recognizing the potential impact of major demand and supply shocks on agri-food producers, agricultural workers and the large number of women and men employed in related activities.
We welcomed the active and close collaboration of the Rome-based UN agencies (FAO, IFAD and WFP), at headquarters and in the field, leveraging their expertise on food security in support of countries’ actions to minimize unintended impacts of the COVID-19 response on food supply, global trade and food security. This included collaboration with other partners such as WHO, WTO and the International Financial Institutions (IFIs).
We call on the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) of the G20 to continue monitoring global food markets and policies and provide timely and reliable information, thus enhancing transparency and supporting timely and evidence-based decision-making.
More than ever, we need to work together in a coordinated and integrated manner, in coherence with the three pillars of action of the UN system: peace and security, sustainable development and human rights. Strengthening the fundamental nexus between humanitarian assistance and sustainable development will also be crucial. We welcome new collaborative initiatives, and in this spirit, we look forward to further details regarding the Food Coalition proposed by Italy.
“Today, Italy, as chair of the Group of Friends of Food Security and Nutrition, Brazil, Canada and Egypt stand committed to supporting the UN system at the global, regional and country level, engaging the WTO, the IFIs and the G20 to ensure that trade measures do not restrict the flow of food and critical agricultural inputs across borders in the short and long term. Open, transparent, and predictable trade is critical to keep food supply chains going and prices stable during and after the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. We look forward to the outcomes of the upcoming G20 agriculture ministers’ meeting.
In these challenging times, we must ensure everyone, especially the most vulnerable, can have access to adequate, safe, affordable and nutritious food and that smallholder farmers and processors receive the inputs, agriculture technologies, scientific-based information, liquidity, taking into account the need to address risks of debt vulnerabilities in developing countries due to the pandemic, and the access to markets they need to produce, store, and sell food, invest in women and ensure they have access to land, credit and digital information. The aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis can be an opportunity to build back better and achieve global food security and decent livelihood for all.
The path towards the 2021 Food Systems Summit also provides a timely opportunity for all food systems actors to strengthen the resilience and sustainability of our food systems to help galvanize the post-emergency recovery through a set of initiatives focused on innovation, financing, technology, partnerships and new levels of regional and global collaboration and information sharing.”