Global food systems under microscope at Food For Future Summit
DUBAI, 24th February, 2022 – The Food For Future Summit and co-located Global Agtech Expo featured world leaders and food and agriculture innovators from international organisations, including the World Bank and several other key global partners.
The event comprises several key tracks, including the Global Leaders’ Symposium, which has brought together international ministerial delegations and leading executives from non-profit organisations worldwide to explore new solutions to enhancing food security.
In her opening address, Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and the Environment, said, “For the first time in the MENA region, we are coming together to initiate dialogue at all levels to accelerate the global transition towards sustainable food systems.
Over the next two days, we will explore new solutions and approaches to the most pressing food security challenges the world faces, and how we can come together as one global community to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
She went on to underline how the UAE is setting a leading global example through its ambitious policy agendas, aimed at building public-private partnerships and enabling AgTech innovations that will shape the future of food.
Ban Ki-moon, the 8th UN Secretary-General, stressed how the world faces an urgent need to drive climate action, agricultural adaptation, and sustainable livelihoods if it is to cope with a projected 50 percent rise in global food demand by 2050.
In a virtual address, Ban Ki-moon, now Co-chair of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens in Vienna, told delegates that central food production is now “the nexus of hunger, poverty, biodiversity, and climate change” and warned “if we do not take action in time, agricultural yields will likely decrease by 30 percent”.
“Supporting smallholder farmers is needed more than ever to address the growing population, the increase in demand for food, and to make food systems sustainable and resilient.
Currently, smallholders only receive 1.
7 percent of total climate finance,” he explained, adding that while global smallholder farmers need an estimated US$240 billion a year in finance support, they received US$10 billion in 2018, signalling the need for a ‘people first’ approach to food ecosystems and climate change.
Elsewhere, a riveting panel discussion titled ‘Good food for all – food as a connector for health and climate’ featured some of the most influential global leaders and policymakers, including Martien Van Nieuwkoop, Global Director, Agriculture and Food at the World Bank Group, and Ismael Roig, President EMEA at ADM, the world’s premier agricultural origination and processing company.
The session highlighted the critical connection between climate change and health, and its impact on food security.
Addressing the conference, Van Nieuwkoop said, “Governments need to fundamentally rethink their policies and put in place bold action.
The world will need food for two billion more people by 2050, and yet the global food system is facing the headwinds of climate emergency, food insecurity, and growing hunger – the numbers are moving in the wrong direction.
With one-third of all agricultural production lost to waste every year, equating to more than US$1 trillion annually, we need to work seriously to address food production and waste.
Roig added, “The local agriculture boom in Dubai and the wider UAE is a very good example of the competitive advantages which can be achieved by producing more food locally while actively exploring other product areas that might depend on global origination due to competitive costing.
Furthermore, a delegation of eight African ministers underscored the vision of Africa in the 21st century as well as the significance of global agri-trade business facilitation, adoption of advanced tech-enabled food production, food risks, and crisis management.
The event marks a first-in-the region partnership for the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) with the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MoCCAE) and the Committee on World Food Security (CFS).
The partnership has yielded the launch of the MENA Agri-Food Innovation Days to enhance engagement of the public and private sectors, academia, and civil society in driving the required transformation of the region’s food and agricultural systems.
The carefully developed programme sheds light on impending global challenges, such as water scarcity, fertile land degradation, and climate change, placing additional pressures on the fragile agricultural ecosystems in the region.
The sessions provide a forum for exchange of knowledge and best practices and promote innovation and technology adoption to improve capabilities to adapt the region’s food systems to be more productive, resilient, inclusive, and sustainable.
“The future of the agrifood systems will define humanity’s future and the region’s food and agriculture future,” said AbdulHakim Elwaer, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa.
“We need to promote policy coherence within and among countries, promote innovation and digital technologies, and strengthen international governance mechanisms.