Colleagues, friends and partners, greetings from Nairobi. My name is Dr. Agnes Kalibata, the newly appointed Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for the 2021 Food Systems Summit.
Food is more than what we eat. It’s more than what satisfies our hunger. It’s more than what nourishes our bodies and our brains. It’s more than a cultural centrepiece or even an Instagram picture. Food is water, land, culture, labor, technology, economics, and policies. Food is everything!
Today, the way we produce, process and consume food – what experts call food systems – is a paradox.
Over the last 50 years, our ability to produce food has gone up by nearly 300%. However, the number of hungry people has increased to 820 million in the last 3 years.
Additionally, we are not eating well. About 2 billion people are obese or have food related diseases.
Furthermore, we waste 35% of all the food we produce. This waste is equivalent to a loss of 936 billion US dollars annually.
That said, our ability to produce food, and how we produce it, is under threat.
Climate change is massively interfering with food systems globally, causing droughts, floods and massive fires around the world.
Our current food system is part of the problem. It contributes 30% of the greenhouse gases.
If we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in the remaining time, our food systems must change.
This is why I am humbled and excited to serve as the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for the 2021 Food Systems Summit.
My vision for the summit is that we must fast-track and commit to ambitious ways of coming through on the SDGs.
In this role, I will be looking to bring global consensus on what our future food systems should be, given the challenges.
I will be looking for agreement and alignment on the dramatic shifts that we know must happen.
And, I will be looking to deliver an ambitious and game-changing action plan for this decade of action.
The prospects of what we can do together excites me.
- First, we must eliminate hunger.
- Second, we must commit to more inclusive and healthier food systems.
- Third, we must safeguard the health of our planet.
As the Special Envoy, I will steward the voice of many of you that deal with food systems every day. We need to change. We need to be bold. And we need to benefit from lots of innovations, that until now, are siloed and invisible.
We want to engage each and every one of you.
Make your voice heard.