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More than 100 nations gather in Rome for food futures

Seated from left: Gilbert Houngbo, president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, Qu Dongyu, director-general of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, and David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Program, are shown in this still from a video of the Pre-Summit of the United Nations Food Systems Summit, in Rome in July. (Agriculture Ministry of Korea)
Seated from left: Gilbert Houngbo, president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, Qu Dongyu, director-general of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, and David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Program, are shown in this still from a video of the Pre-Summit of the United Nations Food Systems Summit, in Rome in July. (Agriculture Ministry of Korea)

SEJONG -- The Pre-Summit of the United Nations Food Systems Summit was held in Rome from July 26-28, in preparation for the UN Food Systems Summit 2021, slated for this September in New York.

The pre-summit was held to coordinate and elaborate on ideas discussed and raised over the past two years to transform food systems, said the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs of Korea.

Heads of state and ministers from more than 100 countries and executive directors of the UN agencies participated virtually or in-person in Rome, where the headquarters of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization are located.

Participants included UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi, and Korea’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Kim Hyeon-soo.

Among the participating international organizations were the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the World Food Program.

“We are seriously off track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030,” Guterres said. “The pandemic has highlighted the links between inequality, poverty, food, disease and our planet.”

He stressed the importance of food systems transformation in the run up to the UN Food Systems Summit in September.

In remarks -- delivered by Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher -- Pope Francis said, “We need to design food systems that ensure sufficient food at the global level and promote decent work at the local level, and that nourish the world today, without compromising the future.”

Prime Minister Mario Draghi of Italy called on each country to commit to ending hunger for 811 million people, saying that countries should work together to adapt to climate change.

Kim, the head of the Korean delegation, said in his ministerial statement that “it is essential to transform into healthier, more sustainable and equitable food systems.”

He said Korea was considering three priorities: the resilience of food systems; sustainable production; and consumption and healthy and safe diet for all. He added that the Korean government was devising Korea’s National Food Plan and the 2050 Plan for Carbon Neutral Agriculture.

Kim suggested several areas of international cooperation for food systems transformation. These included free and transparent trade; local production for local consumption; transformation of energy use in the rural communities and smart farming.

At the closing plenary, Amina J. Mohammed, the UN Deputy Secretary-General said that the summit process is a reason for hope during the era of the COVID-19 crisis, and it has brought back the level of integrity to multilateralism.

“There is no one-size fits all solution. Therefore, we need different perspectives and solutions with the continued interest in smallholders, women, youth and indigenous people,” she said.

At the Summit in September, member states will share their national pathways to transform food systems, and a common vision of the member countries will be offered by the UN Secretary-General’s Statement of Action, according to the Agriculture Ministry of Korea.

The ministry said in a statement that it would prepare for the summit in cooperation with relevant ministries and in accordance with the UN process, based on the outcomes of the pre-summit.

By Kim Yon-se (kys@heraldcorp.com)
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