Rome Meeting Proposes ‘People-Centred and Nature-Positive Change’ to Food System
UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed

World leaders have been given clear pointers on how to transform the global food system to be more equitable, nourishing and resistant to climate change, at the end of a three-day United Nations pre-summit attended by over 17,000 delegates.

Focus now shifts to the Head of State-level summit in New York in September, but UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed stressed that “anything we do must always include those at the center of our food systems: smallholder farmers, indigenous peoples and especially women and youth”.

“Just as food brings us together as cultures and communities, it can bring us together around solutions. But what is clear is there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Our diversity is our strength and reflects the complexity of our world,” Mohammed told the closing plenary in Rome on Wednesday.

She said that the summit would focus on a ‘statement of action’ that “affirms the diversity of our food systems and the complexities, but also the central role that is played by indigenous peoples producers, women and youth”. 

A number of countries have developed “national pathways for food systems transformation” to deliver the sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030, said Mohammed.

“The priorities from national pathways were shared by many ministers in Rome. They point to the need for urgent, inclusive, people-centred and nature-positive systems change that is based on the best science and reflects local and national realities within a global context,” said Dr David Nabarro, senior advisor to the summit.

The three-day conference was attended by more than 500 delegates from 108 countries in person, including 62 ministers, and a further 17,000virtual delegates from 190 countries. Host nation Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Luigi Di Maio, said that the recent G20 Matera Declaration on food security, was “a prime example of how joint political action can lead to broader results on the ground.”

Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland, called for political leadership, saying, “We have to be brave and politically focused to eliminate harmful practices and at the same time advance what has been proven to be positive, human and nature-friendly. It takes courage to transform at the same time our value systems and our food systems.”

The United States in partnership with the United Arab Emirates and with the support of Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Israel, Singapore, the UK and Uruguay, has already set out its Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) initiative, to increase and accelerate global research and development on agriculture and food systems in support of climate action.

Japan, meanwhile, outlined its alignment with the European Union on the importance of innovation to transforming food systems, along with a balanced diet, while emphasising the need for solutions adapted to regional contexts.

Transforming food systems to contend with and tackle climate change was also a priority, particularly among Small Island Developing States, the countries facing the worst impacts of rising global temperatures.

“Today we are still able to consume our main traditional staple root crop, pulaka, but only very sparingly,” said Katepu Laoi, Tuvalu’s Minister for Local Government and Agriculture. 

“Our government recognises that providing sustainable, adequate food supply chains for the people of Tuvalu will be increasingly more challenging due to extreme weather events, which have been worsened by climate change.”


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