Rome

28 July 2021

Deputy Secretary-General's closing press conference at the Pre-Summit of the UN Food Systems Summit - The Road to New York

Thank you, thank you very much Jeff,
 
As we wrap up an incredible Food Systems Pre-Summit event this afternoon, it is really a great pleasure to join with His Excellency, our Foreign Minister Di Maio. I would like to share a few words of what we have accomplished and what we see as a way forward.
 
Over the past three days, the world has gathered together – both virtually and in person here in Rome – around our shared vision of the future: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
 
Over the past three days, we were joined by more than 500 delegates from 108 countries in person, including 62 Ministers.  More than 17,000 joined with us virtually from 190 countries. Among our virtual delegates, we had near gender parity.
 
More than 120 High-level government representatives delivered statements in person or virtually about their national efforts to improve the lives of their people through food.
 
These delegates came not only from UN Member States, but from a broad range of actors bringing diverse experiences and perspectives to the table, including those most affected: Indigenous Peoples, producers, farmers, women and young people. We’ve also seen the private sector in rethinking their business models, moving towards net zero.
 
We are united in our belief that within food systems lies the potential to achieve all of the goals for people, planet, and prosperity. 
 
There is tremendous energy behind this belief. There is recognition that our challenges are urgent and must be addressed at scale.
 
There is also an incredible desire to break down the silos that exist between government Ministries and thematic sectors and communities.
 
As I engaged with participants, the refrain that I heard over and over again, was that there is no going back. This is already a successful outcome. 
 
But the work is far from done. We continue to feel the impacts of COVID-19 and, increasingly, of climate change.
 
We must now work hard to build on what we have harvested here in Rome to prepare the Summit moment this September in New York, where we expect Leaders to re-affirm their commitment to the SDGs and to invest in food as one of their most powerful tools to achieve them.
 
That means we will also offer supportive coalitions of action, drawing from the amazing work of the Action Tracks and the Levers into the support that countries deliver on their priorities.
 
This will include new financing and partnerships that are required to implement these on the ground.
 
Following this Pre-Summit, we are standing on fertile ground for a strong Summit outcome in New York, and we will feature several of the results in the closing plenary later today.
 
More specifically, the Summit will focus on four areas:
 
First, that the Secretary-General will deliver a Statement of Action that will urge us to continue to push 2030 through food systems. It will affirm the diversity of our food systems and their complexities, but also the central role that is played by Indigenous Peoples, producers, women and youth.
 
An additional compendium that reflects the full diversity of inputs received throughout the process will also be prepared.
 
Second, countries will continue to bring forward national pathways for food systems transformation to deliver on all the SDGs by 2030 in their own unique context.
 
As we heard from H.E. President Kagame of Rwanda on Monday, Africa as a whole is also coming forward with a common continental position on food systems. Other regions are doing the same. 
 
Third, as these pathways emerge, we are also seeing common themes. These themes can help the global community identify coalitions and support structures to help countries come through on their visions and their priorities.
 
And finally, as the UN, we are committed to supporting country-level implementation as well as the maintenance of the energy in this process through dedicated follow-up.
 
Any effort will build on the strong institutions that we have here in Rome with FAO, IFAD and WFP, as well as the Committee on World Food Security.
 
I want to warmly thank the Italian Government and the Rome-based Agencies for all the support they have provided to make this Pre-Summit possible. And a big shout-out for the teams of young men and women who have made this possible too.
 
Italy has long been a global leader on issues of food and food security, and it is truly playing a catalytic role in the process, as it connects the COP26 and their leadership in the G20 later this year.
 
As H.E. Prime Minister Draghi mentioned in his remarks on Monday, we are proud of this partnership between Italy and the United Nations. He also rightly noted the centrality of our food systems, their intimate connection with climate change and that this must be on the G20 agenda as well.
 
This event has served as the first major hybrid UN Summit of the COVID-era, and it has helped chart a pathway for a new way of doing things that can be safe, inclusive, and effective.
 
It took bold vision, leadership, and consistent work to make this innovative Pre-Summit successful. 
 
And so I am leaving Rome very hopeful.
 
This meeting has shown us that there’s a silver lining to this COVID crisis: Food systems are a priority area for transformative investments, that can lead the transitions that we need to make.
 
We demonstrated that a People’s Summit and a Solutions Summit are in fact one and the same: we are the solution to the challenges in our world.
 
Only by working together – as one people, in solidarity – can we have a sustainable and prosperous planet for all.
 
We will use the remaining two months to the Summit to gather momentum, to galvanize accelerated action towards the 2030 Agenda.
 
Thank you.