FAO – News Article: Harnessing the power of the EU-FAO partnership for sustainable agri-food systems transformation

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27 May 2021, Brussels/Rome – The European Union (EU) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) concluded today the 2021 edition of the EU-FAO Strategic Dialogue, underlining that there is an ambitious common agenda that will put people and the planet at the heart of a partnership towards more efficient, resilient, inclusive and sustainable agri-food systems.  

Key EU and FAO officials, including FAO Deputy Director-General, Beth Bechdol; EU Deputy Director-General, Marjeta Jager; and the EU Ambassador and Permanent Representative to FAO, Alexandra Valkenburg, who opened and moderated the session, contributed to the dialogue. They called for urgent actions to transform agri-food systems, so they deliver healthy and sustainable diets to all.

FAO Deputy Director-General, Beth Bechdol, emphasized: “We are facing a critical situation. But today, we have a unique chance to change this paradigm with a stronger political will, a bold vision and a sustained commitment to deliver on the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs. The renewed EU-FAO partnership will be fundamental in turning this ambition into reality”.    

EU Deputy Director-General Marjeta Jager underscored that “it has been an intense and rich Dialogue. We have managed to discuss many  policy areas  and issues and realized again how closely they bind us and how  EU-FAO cooperation is central for implementing many priorities of our respective organisations.”

EU-FAO Strategic Dialogue

The EU-FAO Strategic Dialogue is a periodic and forward-looking exercise that aims to readjust and recalibrate EU-FAO joint priorities for the short- and medium-term and strengthen the capacity to bring timely, coherent, and effective responses to global challenges and policy developments within both organizations.

The 2021 edition of the EU-FAO Strategic Dialogue has the overarching objective of jointly advancing the transformation of food systems towards sustainability. A high-level session on 6 May 2021 launched the process, with the FAO Director-General, QU Dongyu; European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen; European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides; European Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski; Professor Joachim von Braun; and other high-level representatives from FAO and the EU participating.

Five technical webinars were held in February 2021, identifying topics of common interest and recent developments within both organizations.

Shaping a shared vision 

The meeting on 27 May 2021 was an opportunity to build on the high-level session held on 6 May 2021 and share the outcomes of five thematic sessions, which took place throughout May 2021 in five priority areas: food systems and One Health; climate change, biodiversity and natural resources; food crises, food security and resilient livelihoods; sustainable agri-food value chain investments and policies; and food system transformation through digitalisation.

Both partners highlighted that a holistic approach that pays attention to the interlinkages between social, environmental and economic aspects of agri-food systems, is of paramount importance.

All participants acknowledged the transformative power of the EU-FAO partnership to create a world that is more prosperous, inclusive, efficient, resilient and sustainable, and agreed to build upon the momentum of the UN Food Systems Summit in New York in September 2021 (with a Pre-Summit in Rome in July 2021). The EU-FAO Strategic Dialogue will continue with in-depth discussions to further concretize the cooperation roadmap in the coming months.


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