After a two-year hiatus, the Open Forum returns to Davos at a crucial juncture in history
African countries are at the forefront of vital transformation of food systems to simultaneously address food security, nutrition, social and environmental protection – while building resilience – the UN chief said on Thursday.
António Guterres was speaking at the start of a high-level political dialogue at the United Nations headquarters in New York, as part of the Africa 2022 dialogue series, convened to build food supply resilience across the continent, at a time when “decades of progress on hunger are being reversed.”
He said that for too long nutrition, food security, conflict, climate change, ecosystems and health have been treated as separate concerns,”but these global challenges are deeply interconnected. Conflict creates hunger. The climate crisis amplifies conflictsand the systemic problems only get worse.
He noted that after more than a decade of improvements, one in five Africans were undernourished in 2020, while 61 million African children are affected by stunting. Women and girls bear the brunt of it, and when food is scarce, “they are often the last to eat; and the first to be taken out of school and forced to work or marry.”
Mr Guterres said humanitarians and UN partners were doing all they could to meet Africa’s needs in times of crisis, but aid ‘cannot compete with the systemic drivers of hunger’ .
Compounding the situation were other “external shocks”, such as an uneven recovery from the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, with African countries among the hardest hit by grain shortages and rising debt.
On the front lines of the climate crisis
Building resilience also means addressing the climate crisis.
“African farmers are on the frontlines of our planet’s warming, from rising temperatures to droughts and floods,” he said.
“Africa needs massive technical and financial support to adapt to the impact of the climate emergency and provide renewable electricity across the continent.”
He added that developed countries must honor their $100 billion climate finance pledge to developing countries, with the help of international financial institutions, so that African countries, in particular, can invest in a strong post-recovery. the COVID-19 pandemic, to the tide of renewable energy.
Food systems, said the Secretary-General, “connect all these challengesas highlighted at the UN Food Systems Summit last September.
“Many African Member States have called for fundamental change, through inclusive transformative pathways, which aim to address – simultaneously – food security, nutrition, social protection, environmental conservation and resilience to shocks”.
He welcomed the decision of the African Union (AU) to designate 2022 as the Year of Nutrition – a promise 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,” Mr. Guterres added.
“The international community must rise to the occasion“, he said, adding that reducing support when demand is at an all-time high was “not an option”.
Official development assistance, or ODA, based on a percentage of available public funds, is needed more than ever, he said.
“I urge all countries to show solidarity, invest in resilience and prevent the current crisis from worsening further.”
The UN chief said during his recent visit to Senegal, Niger and Nigeria, he was inspired by the resilience and determination of the people he met.
“Women and young people in particular have engaged in sustainable and sustainable solutions that allow them to live in peace with their neighbors and with nature.
“If we work together, if we put people and planet before profit, we can transform food systemsachieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and leave no one behind. »
The ambitious goals, he concluded, of ending hunger and malnutrition by the fast approaching 2030 deadline, were realistic and achievable.
“The United Nations stands by your side, every step of the way.