Transformative Action to End Hunger, Inequality
11 May 2023
Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks at the briefing to UN Member States on the first United Nations Food Systems Stocktaking Moment, in New York on 10 May:
Our current food systems are failing us. Despite hopes of improved food security after the COVID-19 pandemic the reverse has been the case. Compounded crises have exacerbated already worrying trends on extreme poverty, hunger and inequalities.
More than 786 million people faced hunger in 2021. About 150 million more than in 2019. 2.3 billion people -- that is one in three -- were moderately or severely food insecure in 2021 -- almost 350 million more than at the start of the pandemic. And projections show that, by 2030, approximately 670 million people will still be facing hunger -- 8 per cent of the world’s population. That is the same as the figure in 2015, when we gavelled the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Current unsustainable food systems are not delivering decent jobs and opportunities: agricultural workers and their families represent up to two thirds of people facing extreme poverty in the world. Food systems are also major drivers of climate change, pollution, biodiversity loss and other environmental challenges. Overall, today’s food systems generate $12 trillion in hidden social, economic and environmental costs, a situation that weakens decades of collective development achievements.
Yet, food systems transformation holds the key to improving people’s lives and can multiply progress across the Sustainable Development Goals. Food Systems can contribute to people’s nutrition, health and well-being, can restore and protect nature and can be shaped to provide decent jobs and inclusive economies.
In just under three months, the United Nations Secretary-General will convene the first Stocktaking Moment of the Food Systems Summit, in partnership with Italy. I am particularly grateful, to the Government of Italy, for its continued leadership in hosting, this important event, which will take place in July, less than two years from the conclusion of the United Nations Food Systems Summit.
The Stocktaking Moment is an opportunity to take stock of our collective efforts and progress towards creating healthier, more equitable, sustainable and resilient food systems. Systems that accelerate the SDGs and connect a suite of actors.
It has been tabled strategically, just a few months before the SDGs Summit. This will allow the Stocktaking Moment to feed into our deliberations at the SDG Summit. This also reflects the Secretary-General’s conviction that fixing our food systems is central to addressing the other challenges of our time.
The Stocktaking Moment will focus on three main objectives: Firstly, convening countries and relevant food system actors to critically review progress on the commitments to action that were made during the United Nations Food Systems Summit. Together they should identify real successes, enduring bottlenecks and priorities to close the implementation gap.
Our second objective will be building further momentum for action. We must build a compelling narrative, about the powerful role food systems transformations can play to leave no one behind and accelerating progress towards numerous SDG goals.
Thirdly, we must continue to advocate at the highest-level for urgent action at scale. We must incentivize integrated national road maps, covering the whole of government and building on scientific evidence and traditional knowledge. These should help to ensure that sustainable food systems contribute to, and benefit from, other transitions across finance and technology, education, to amplify positive outcomes for people and planet, leaving no one behind.
The Stocktaking Moment is convened in the midst of interlocking crises facing the world, compounded by the far-reaching socioeconomic consequences of the war in Ukraine and an unprecedented cost-of-living crisis bringing new levels of urgency to the discussion of topics such as resilient supply chains and agricultural inputs including fertilizers.
In preparation for the Stocktaking Moment, the United Nations Food Systems Coordination Hub in Rome, the Regional [Economic] Commissions and the wider United Nations system, organized five regional preparatory meetings. These were attended by more than 400 participants in person, and an equivalent number online. In each of these meetings, food systems transformation was acknowledged as central in addressing these collective challenges.
These meetings were extremely useful in capturing regional priorities and challenges and in collecting your expectations ahead of the Stocktaking Moment. Everywhere, we heard the same sense of urgency, ambition and determination. We must carry this forward energy to the Stocktaking Moment, and to ensure determination translates into concrete actions felt among the most vulnerable in our societies.
To encourage meaningful conversations at the Stocktaking Moment, I invite you to encourage your Governments and National Convenors to submit voluntary country progress reports, making use of the reporting template provided by the hub and available on the hub website. Already 50 voluntary reports have been submitted and we expect to have many more.
These would ideally be informed by inclusive multisectoral and multistakeholder national stock takes and dialogues. Resident Coordinators and United Nations country teams stand ready to support you in these preparations.
Every Government, organization and individual needs to be involved. The Stocktaking Moment will ensure that inclusivity features prominently in all themes, as guided by the ministerial declaration of the high-level political forum last year.
And I expect to see delegations reflecting the rich diversity of actors working on food systems transformations. Participants in July will include Governments, young people, Indigenous Peoples, local communities, farmers and producers, women, the private sector, academics, scientists and international organizations, as well as representatives from various United Nations bodies.
The Secretary-General and I are putting tremendous hope into the journey ahead, and we count on your active engagement and inspirational examples of breakthroughs to advance progress.
The Stocktaking Moment must mark clear guidance and collective commitment to really see the SDG progress accelerated, allowing for greater acceleration at the next Stocktaking Moment in 2025. We also need concrete outcomes that we can take with us to the SDGs Summit in September, and to other milestone events this year and next. With your leadership and commitments, the Stocktaking Moment expects to produce a non-negotiated document.
Now, I would like to hear your views and reflection in relation to different options you consider opportune, including a non-negotiated call to action. I also look forward to hearing your views on the whole programme for July and answering any questions you may have.
Let us continue to work together and make use of this opportunity to maintain the momentum to deliver the promise of the SDGs for current and future generations.