26 July 2021

Secretary-General Calls Food System Major Driver of Greenhous Gas Emissions, Biodiversity Loss, Citing ‘War on Nature’, in Message to Pre-Summit

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the Food Systems Pre-Summit in Rome today:

I am pleased to send greetings to this important meeting to prepare for the Food Systems Summit.

We are at a pivotal moment.  We are seriously off track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.  Poverty, income inequality and the high cost of food continue to keep healthy diets out of the reach of some 3 billion people.

Climate change and conflict are both consequences and drivers of this catastrophe.  Up to 811 million people faced hunger in 2020 — as many as 161 million more than in 2019, not least due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic, which still assails us, has highlighted the links between inequality, poverty, food, disease and our planet.  Our war against nature includes a food system that generates one third of all greenhouse gas emissions.  And the same food system is responsible for up to 80 per cent of biodiversity loss.

Yet, there is hope.  Since my initial call for this Summit, you have responded with energy, ideas and a willingness to forge new partnerships.  At this Pre-Summit, we can define the scope of our collective ambition and strengthen our efforts to achieve all 17 SDGs by transforming our food systems.

I thank you for your work so far in making this both a “People’s Summit” and a “Solutions Summit”.  Your leadership will help set a tone for the Decade of Action and an equitable and sustainable recovery from COVID-19.  I look forward to welcoming you to New York in September.

Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.