New York

26 May 2022

Secretary-General's remarks to the Opening Segment of the High-level Policy Dialogue of the Africa Dialogue Series 2022 [bilingual as delivered, scroll down for all-English]

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

I am happy to join you for this Dialogue Series, and commend your focus on nutrition and food security on the African continent.

For too long, nutrition, food security, conflicts, climate change, ecosystems and health have been treated as separate issues.

But these global challenges are deeply interconnected.

Conflict creates hunger.

The climate crisis amplifies conflict.

Economic insecurity is heightened by the pandemic and by inequalities in resources allocated for recovery.

These problems are systemic; and they are getting worse. 

Decades of progress on hunger are being reversed.

After improving steadily in all regions between 2000 and 2016, hunger has sharply increased in recent years.

Over 281 million Africans – one in five – were undernourished in 2020.

Sixty-one million African children are affected by stunting, which can impact their physical and mental health throughout their lives.  

As always, women and girls are the most affected.

When food is short, they are often the last to eat; and the first to be taken out of school and forced into work or marriage.
Our humanitarian operations are doing their utmost to help. 

Just last week, I announced the release of $30 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund, to meet urgent food security and nutrition needs in Niger, Mali, Chad and Burkina Faso, bringing the total funding channeled through CERF in the Sahel to nearly $95 million since the start of the year.

But this is a drop in the ocean.

Humanitarian aid cannot compete with the systemic drivers of hunger.

External shocks are further exacerbating the situation.

An uneven recovery from the pandemic has put many developing countries on the brink of debt default.  Inequality is enormous in that regard. 

The war in Ukraine has led to the highest food prices on record.

African countries are among those most heavily impacted – especially when this is coupled with rising energy bills and limited access to finance.

I convened the Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance, involving all UN agencies and international financial institutions, to provide data and analysis, and to propose solutions. 

The group immediately recommended that all food export restrictions should be lifted; strategic reserves should be released; and surpluses allocated to countries in need.

It is clear that solving this crisis also requires reintegrating Ukraine’s agricultural production and the food and fertilizer production of Russia and Belarus into world markets – despite the war.

I am continuing to pursue efforts to find common ground on this vital issue, for people around the world.

Dear friends,

Building resilience also requires addressing the climate crisis.

African farmers are on the frontlines of our warming planet, from rising temperatures to droughts and floods.

Africa needs a massive boost in technical and financial support, to adapt to the impact of the climate emergency, and provide renewable electricity across the continent.

Fifty per cent of climate finance must be allocated to adaptation.

And developed countries must deliver on their $100 billion climate finance commitment to developing countries.

We are also advocating for immediate action from international financial institutions, so that developing countries, especially in Africa, can invest in a strong recovery from the pandemic, based on renewable energy.

Mesdames et Messieurs,

Les systèmes alimentaires sont au cœur de tous ces défis.

Le Sommet des Nations Unies sur les systèmes alimentaires, qui s’est tenu en septembre dernier, a montré que la transformation des systèmes alimentaires avait un immense potentiel.

De nombreux États africains ont appelé de leurs vœux à un changement fondamental, à travers des trajectoires de transformation inclusives qui portent simultanément sur la sécurité alimentaire, la nutrition, la protection sociale, la protection de l’environnement et la résilience face aux chocs.

Je salue la décision de l’Union africaine de faire de 2022 l’Année de la nutrition – c’est un premier pas vers la réalisation des engagements forts pris lors du Sommet.

Grâce à la coopération nationale, régionale et mondiale, nous devons tirer parti de l’expérience acquise et mobiliser l’expertise collective.

Nous devons, ensemble, mettre ces trajectoires en œuvre.

Le Centre de coordination des systèmes alimentaires des Nations Unies aidera les pays à concrétiser leurs trajectoires de transformation, à éliminer la faim et la malnutrition et à promouvoir des pratiques agricoles durables.

La communauté internationale doit se montrer à la hauteur de la situation.

Il est inenvisageable de réduire l’appui, alors que les besoins n’ont jamais été aussi grands.

L’aide publique au développement est plus nécessaire que jamais. J’exhorte tous les pays à faire preuve de solidarité, à investir dans la résilience et à empêcher que la crise actuelle ne s’aggrave davantage.

Chers amis, Excellences,

Lors de mon récent voyage au Sénégal, au Niger et au Nigéria, j’ai été impressionné par la résilience et la détermination des personnes que j’ai rencontrées.

Les femmes et les jeunes, en particulier, étaient pleinement engagés en faveur de solutions durables leur permettant de vivre en paix avec leurs voisins et avec la nature.

Si nous travaillons ensemble, si nous faisons passer l’humanité et la planète avant les profits, nous pouvons transformer les systèmes alimentaires, sauver les Objectifs de développement durable sans laisser personne de côté.

Nous pouvons éliminer la faim et la malnutrition d’ici à 2030.

L’ONU sera à vos côtés, à chaque instant.

Je vous souhaite des échanges fructueux. Je vous remercie.

[All-English]:

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

I am happy to join you for this Dialogue Series, and commend your focus on nutrition and food security on the African continent.

For too long, nutrition, food security, conflicts, climate change, ecosystems and health have been treated as separate issues.

But these global challenges are deeply interconnected.

Conflict creates hunger.

The climate crisis amplifies conflict.

Economic insecurity is heightened by the pandemic and by inequalities in resources allocated for recovery.

These problems are systemic; and they are getting worse. 

Decades of progress on hunger are being reversed.

After improving steadily in all regions between 2000 and 2016, hunger has sharply increased in recent years.

Over 281 million Africans – one in five – were undernourished in 2020.

Sixty-one million African children are affected by stunting, which can impact their physical and mental health throughout their lives.  

As always, women and girls are the most affected.
When food is short, they are often the last to eat; and the first to be taken out of school and forced into work or marriage.

Our humanitarian operations are doing their utmost to help. 

Just last week, I announced the release of $30 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund, to meet urgent food security and nutrition needs in Niger, Mali, Chad and Burkina Faso, bringing the total funding channeled through CERF in the Sahel to nearly $95 million since the start of the year.

But this is a drop in the ocean.

Humanitarian aid cannot compete with the systemic drivers of hunger.

External shocks are further exacerbating the situation.

An uneven recovery from the pandemic has put many developing countries on the brink of debt default.  Inequality is enormous in that regard. 

The war in Ukraine has led to the highest food prices on record.

African countries are among those most heavily impacted – especially when this is coupled with rising energy bills and limited access to finance.

I convened the Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance, involving all UN agencies and international financial institutions, to provide data and analysis, and to propose solutions. 

The group immediately recommended that all food export restrictions should be lifted; strategic reserves should be released; and surpluses allocated to countries in need.

It is clear that solving this crisis also requires reintegrating Ukraine’s agricultural production and the food and fertilizer production of Russia and Belarus into world markets – despite the war.

I am continuing to pursue efforts to find common ground on this vital issue, for people around the world.

Dear friends,

Building resilience also requires addressing the climate crisis.

African farmers are on the frontlines of our warming planet, from rising temperatures to droughts and floods.

Africa needs a massive boost in technical and financial support, to adapt to the impact of the climate emergency, and provide renewable electricity across the continent.

Fifty per cent of climate finance must be allocated to adaptation.

And developed countries must deliver on their $100 billion climate finance commitment to developing countries.

We are also advocating for immediate action from international financial institutions, so that developing countries, especially in Africa, can invest in a strong recovery from the pandemic, based on renewable energy.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Food systems connect all these challenges.

The United Nations Food Systems Summit last September showcased the power of food systems transformation.

Many African Member States led the call for fundamental change, through inclusive transformation pathways, which aim to address – simultaneously – food security, nutrition, social protection, environmental conservation and resilience to shocks.

I welcome the launch by the African Union of 2022 as the Year of Nutrition – a pledge to act on the strong commitments made at the Summit.

Through national, regional and global cooperation, we must build on lessons learned and harness collective expertise.

Together, we must deliver on these pathways.

The UN Food Systems Coordination Hub will support countries in implementing their transformation pathways, ending hunger and malnutrition, and promoting sustainable agricultural practices.

The international community must rise to the occasion.

Scaling back support at a time when demand is at an all-time high is not an option.

Official Development Assistance is more necessary than ever. I urge all countries to demonstrate solidarity, invest in resilience, and prevent the current crisis from escalating further.

Dear friends, Excellencies,

During my recent trip to Senegal, Niger, and Nigeria, I was inspired by the resilience and determination of the people I met.

Women and young people in particular were committed to lasting, sustainable solutions that enable them to live in peace with their neighbours and with nature.

If we work together, if we put people and planet before profit, we can transform food systems, deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals and leave no one behind.

We can end hunger and malnutrition by 2030.

The United Nations stands by your side, every step of the way.

I wish you fruitful discussions. Thank you.