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IICA Director General to be a member of one of the UN Food Systems Summit support networks

Agnes Kalibata, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General to the 2021 Food Systems Summit, and Manuel Otero, IICA Director General.

San Jose, 28 January 2021 (IICA). Agnes Kalibata, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General to the Food Systems Summit 2021, has invited the Director General of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Manuel Otero, to be a member of the Food Systems Summit Champions Network – one of the four main support mechanisms for a meeting that will aim to lay the foundation for positively transforming the way in which food is produced and consumed.

The UN Food Systems Summit is slated to take place in October. During the preparatory phase, as a member of the Summit Champions Network, the IICA Director General will represent the agriculture and rural sectors of North America, Latin America and the Caribbean.

The summit convened by UN Secretary General, António Guterres, is expected to foster new agreements and bold actions to further the achievement of the 17 SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), each of which will require healthier, more sustainable and equitable food systems.

In her letter to Otero, the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy stated that, “Given your leadership in this area, particularly as the Director General of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), you have been nominated by the Summit Champions Network to represent the agriculture and rural sectors of North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, as a food systems champion of the Summit. This is one of the Summit’s four main support mechanisms. We hope that this will become a broad-based and inclusive coalition that will transform the world’s food systems through coordinated action, before, during and after the Summit”.

Kalibata also expressed her hope that the Summit would benefit from the perspectives and contributions of the IICA Director General, the specialized hemispheric agency for agricultural and rural development and its professional networks.

Otero, on the other hand, said that he was honored by the fact that the Summit organizers had recognized IICA’s role in the agricultural and rural development of the Americas over the years and welcomed, “the transformative and inclusive approach that is being adopted to build a more collaborative and sustainable world”.

In his letter to the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy, accepting her invitation to be a member of the Summit Champions Network, Otero stressed the importance of ensuring that the perspectives offered during the consultation process to prepare for the Summit, “accurately reflect the priority needs of the 34 IICA Member States in the Americas”, which he believed “would improve the likelihood of carrying out actions that would produce optimal results for the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.

Within this framework, IICA will seek to contribute to the Summit by organizing a conceptual and policy discussion from the perspective of agriculture in the region.

This discussion will involve all of the sector’s key players, with support from the ministers of agriculture of the Member States and will be summarized in a document that will be contributed to the Summit. The Inter-American Board of Agriculture (IABA), IICA’s highest governing body, which is comprised of the ministers of agriculture of the Americas, will meet during the first week of September, providing countries of the Americas with a valuable forum to come together and pool their ideas.

The Summit is expected to bring together global political leaders at the highest level. The preparatory discussions have engaged key players from the fields of science, business, politics, health and academia, as well as farmers, indigenous peoples, youth organizations, consumer groups, environmental activists and other interested stakeholders.

This broad participation will allow for ensuring that agreements reached reflect all positions and are feasible, in order to achieve tangible and positive changes in the world’s food systems.

IICA has been advocating for a consultative process in preparation for the Summit, which should include the full participation of agricultural producers and other key stakeholders of production chains. The Institute has also stressed the importance of science providing key input for public policymaking for the agriculture and rural sectors, as well as the need to shed a positive light on the role played by agriculture in addressing and mitigating climate change.

As one of the guarantors of global food security and a region rich in high-quality resources—such as land and water—that can be incorporated into production, the Western Hemisphere plays a strategic role in the process of transforming agrifood systems.

Moreover, agriculture plays a strategic role in the economies of many countries in the region, not only as a source of exports, but also – and more importantly – as a sector that generates employment, boosts social inclusion and reduces poverty. The Covid-19 pandemic, whose economic effects have challenged global food security, has further highlighted agriculture’s valuable role in this regard.

“It is important to recognize the global needs that the Summit will address. At the regional level, particularly in the case of Latin American and Caribbean countries, we must acknowledge the fact that sustainable transformations will only be possible through strategies that make better use of the region’s great wealth of natural resources and biodiversity, which, at present, are underutilized. We must fully capitalize on all of the opportunities afforded by scientific and technological advancements”, concluded Otero.

More information:
Institutional Communication Division at IICA.