Director-General QU Dongyu reflects on the lessons learned at the high-level meeting
Rome- The UN Food Systems Summit +2 Stocktaking Moment (UNFSS+2) closed on Wednesday at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) after three days of high-level events, meetings and dialogues bringing together over 2000 participants from 180 countries, including over 20 Heads of State and Government and 125 Ministers, to explore challenges and opportunities to transform agrifood systems.
‘’I hope this Stocktaking Moment has provided a holistic window to see where we stand, what we have done so far, and how much we need to do going forward,” said FAO Director-General, QU Dongyu during the closing ceremony.
“The path is long and we need to accelerate our step,’’ he added, underscoring that the Organization is committed to supporting members along with their national pathways toward better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life– leaving no one behind.
Qu said he hoped participants left Rome with key takeaways to support their national pathways, after collectively recognizing that the drivers of food insecurity and malnutrition have become even more complex due to the reinforcing and interconnected risk and impact of the climate crisis, economic shocks, and ongoing conflicts.
“We have heard about the many challenges you are facing, but also that in every difficulty emerges opportunity,” he highlighted, also acknowledging the discussions about the need for a high-level, long-term political commitment.
The United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, officially closed the UNFSS+2 Stocktaking Moment by presenting Call-to-Action on behalf of the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres.
She advocated for urgent action at scale to close the implementation gap, highlighting the linkages to financing for development, debt relief, inclusion, engagement with non-state actors, and access to science, technology and innovation for all. She also outlined key priorities for further action, including establishing food system strategies across all national policies and promoting multi-stakeholder partnering.
“This Stocktaking Moment has confirmed what we learned at the first Food Systems Summit in 2021 — that we can increase ambition and accelerate action. […] Let us take the spirit of this convening into the broader push to rescue the SDGs and into the concrete, day-to- day efforts to make food systems work for everyone”, she underscored.
The closing ceremony also had the participation of the President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Alvaro Lario, and the Executive Director of the World Food Programme.
Highlighting the opportunities
Over three days, during FAO-led events, participants at the UNFSS+2 learned about the importance of:
• Investment in infrastructure – to ensure what is produced has access to the markets;
• Circular economy and bio-economy – to increase efficiency, sustainability and reduce losses and waste;
• The true cost of food – to make the hidden costs and benefits visible for effective decision-making;
• Legal infrastructure – to provide incentives and structures for action;
• Developing value chains – to build resilient agrifood systems;
• Trade – to increase food diversity, ensure better nutrition and access to healthy diets
Participants also heard strong messages about:
• Putting people at the centre, especially youth and women, for more effective solutions
• Utilizing science, technology and innovation for better production, while also increasing climate resilience and the nutritious quality of food;
• Natural resources being the foundation of agrifood systems, and the need to improve their efficient use – producing more with less;
• The importance of aquatic foods to end hunger and malnutrition – and how FAO’s Blue Transformation is a visionary initiative to achieve these objectives.
• The importance of data and geospatial data for making decisions;
• The importance of international cooperation, including South-South and Triangular cooperation;
• The need for enabling policies and governance structures; and
• Digitalization as one of the main accelerators to advance agrifood systems transformation.
• Farmers holding the key to driving, adapting and implementing new practices, innovation and technologies
• Opportunities to actively explore a whole range of innovations and promote cutting-edge technologies, including precision agriculture, data analytics, Artificial Intelligence and blockchain, for improved production and to accelerate progress in the implementation of national pathways.
Into the future
Director-General Qu reminded delegates that FAO provides a neutral space for dialogue for all members, and for all agrifood system actors and partners, which facilitates mutual learning to reach consensus for context-specific solutions and joint actions for the transformation the world needs.
“FAO is also committed to working more closely and meaningfully with all of our UN partners to increase our efficiency and scale up our collective impact on the ground,” he emphasized.
He also put a spotlight on the value of the UN Food Systems Coordination Hub, hosted in FAO on behalf of the UN System, as an effective, efficient and coherent coordinator and facilitator, bringing together national food systems convenors, and collecting essential data.
“Going forward, we need to strengthen the Hub and increase our collective support to further improve its work and effectiveness,’’ he said.
Qu invited participants to return to Rome in October for the World Food Forum 2023 – one of the world’s most effective platforms to continue the dialogue on agrifood systems transformation.
The UN Food Systems Summit +2 Stocktaking Moment built on the momentum of the 2021 Food Systems Summit by creating a conducive space for countries to review progress on the commitments to action and identify successes, enduring bottlenecks and priorities.
The UN Secretary-General has committed in his Chair Summary and Statement of Action on the UN Food Systems Summit to convene “a global stocktaking meeting every two years to review progress in implementing the outcomes of this process and its contributions to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda”. The next meeting, the UN Food Systems Summit +4, will be held in 2025.