UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy signs agreement with IICA and sees Food Systems Summit as an opportunity to set courses of action to achieve zero hunger
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UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to the Food Systems Summit 2021, Agnes Kalibata. Photo: UN.org

San Jose, 2 September 2021 (IICA) – Agnes Kalibata, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to the Food Systems Summit 2021, confirmed at the Conference of Ministers of Agriculture of the Americas 2021 that the global event scheduled to begin on 23 September in New York will be an opportunity to set the course of action for achieving the global Zero Hunger goal.

Following her presentation to the ministers of 33 countries of the Americas, Kalibata, who chairs the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), signed an agreement with Manuel Otero, Director General of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), aimed at the institutions working together to promote the recovery of soil fertility, combat poverty and hunger, and transform the agri-food systems in their respective regions.

According to the agreement signed between AGRA and IICA, the join efforts will work to increase the contributions of the agriculture sector to the economic growth and sustainable development of the countries of Africa and the Americas, strengthen the well-being of rural populations, drive international and regional trade, and increase the resilience of agri-food systems to extreme climate events.

The similarities between the countries of Africa and the Americas in terms of available land, widespread participation of family farmers, and the conviction that agriculture is a powerful means to ensure sustainable development are the foundation of the alliance, as set forth in the agreement.

Kalibata also referred to the importance of the Summit in her presentation to the ministerial conference, which was held virtually and titled “Sustainable Agri-Food Systems: The engine of development in the Americas”.

The Americas will be the only continent to attend the global event with a unified position, which is laid out in a document with 16 messages that were agreed on by the 34 Member States of IICA, who facilitated the consensus and drafted the document.

“At the Summit, we will talk about the challenges we are facing and discuss possible solutions. There are a number of mechanisms that can help us to move forward and establish a course of action for the future. The UN Secretary-General says we need ambitious solutions”, explained Kalibata.

The UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy explained that 147 countries have voluntarily committed to the Summit through their national dialogues, in which they have discussed the present and future of each nation’s food systems, the challenges they are facing, and the possibility of contributing to achieving the Agenda 2030.

 “We know what we need. The Sustainable Development Goals are already in place, but we need to put them to work”, she said.

Kalibata was born in Rwanda to a family of small-scale farmers that was displaced during the African country’s fight for independence in the early 1960s. A graduate of entomology and biochemistry, she is former Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources of her country, an office she held from 2008 to 2014, during which time Rwanda made great strides on the subject of food security.

Among the essential questions facing humanity, the first is how to feed the people, said Kalibata, adding: “We must achieve the Zero Hunger goal through actions like eliminating food waste and establishing school cafeterias. We must also minimize climate change and the loss of biodiversity, strengthening nature”.

“The pandemic has made it very difficult for people to work and has exacerbated the inequalities that already existed. We must work on resilience, recognizing the impacts of Covid-19 and climate change. We recognize the challenges that exist with respect to gender, indigenous communities, and other peoples and communities for whom jobs are so important”.

The Special Envoy pointed out that humanity is at a crossroads for making commitments in the framework of Agenda 2030 and for joining forces to face challenges like climate change.

In closing her presentation to the Ministers of Agriculture of the Americas, she said, “I assure you all that this is something we can achieve. The idea is to do it for prosperity, for the people, for the planet”.


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Institutional Communication Division