“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,” the UN chief said in his video message to the pre-summit of the UN Food Systems Summit, which will set the stage for the culminating global event in September by bringing together diverse actors from around the world to leverage the power of food systems to deliver progress on all 17 SDGs.
“We are at a pivotal moment,” said Guterres, noting that “we are seriously off track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals 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,” said the top UN official.
“Climate change and conflict are both consequences and drivers of this catastrophe,” he said.
“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 secretary-general underscored that the COVID-19 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 percent of biodiversity loss,” he added.
“Yet, there is hope,” Guterres said.
He added that since his initial call for this summit, countries have responded “with energy, ideas and a willingness to forge new partnerships.”
“I thank you for your work so far in making this both a ‘People’s Summit and a ‘Solutions Summit,’” said the secretary-general.
“Your leadership will help set a tone for the Decade of Action and an equitable and sustainable recovery from COVID-19,” he stressed.
In partnership with the government of Italy, the pre-summit will take place in Rome on July 26-28. The event, which is open to all who would like to participate, will take a hybrid format, with an in-person component complemented by a vast virtual program and platform.
Through the pre-summit, the UN Food Systems Summit will reaffirm its commitment to promote human rights for all and ensure the most marginalized groups have an opportunity to participate in, contribute to and benefit from the summit process.