Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Her Excellency Mariam Almheiri, UAE Minister of State for Food and Water Security, was a guest speaker at a virtual meeting of G20 food and agriculture ministers that took place today, September 12, 2020.
Convened to discuss food and water security concerns during and post-COVID-19, the event that hosted ministers from the world’s top 20 economic nations focused on a variety of issues, including the importance of free trade, responsible investments in agriculture, food loss and waste, and the role of technology in ending global hunger.
Included on the meeting agenda was how the world’s growing population is increasingly urbanised and interconnected, with food and water security issues having profound implications for global communities’ wellbeing, economic growth and the ability to cope with environmental and health challenges, including natural disasters, biodiversity loss and disease.
“By 2050, the world’s food production and supply networks will need to sustainably feed more than 9 billion people, meaning they will have to produce food to meet demand that will be 60% greater than it is today. Ensuring adequate nutrition, water and sanitation for this growing number of people during a time of climate change, drought, and increasing desertification is in itself a momentous challenge, but it is one that has been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Her Excellency Mariam Almheiri, Minister of State for Food and Water Security.
The G20 meeting saw the agriculture ministers reaffirm the commitments made in their Ministerial Statement on April 21, 2020, when they agreed to cooperate closely and take concrete actions to safeguard global food security and nutrition. It also saw them recommit their respective governments determination to meet the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), emphasising that free trade and unimpeded movement of goods and produce across borders is the cornerstone to meeting the world’s water and food security needs.
“During the G2O virtual meeting we – as participating ministers - reaffirmed our governments’ respective commitment to the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and reiterated our collective efforts to foster agriculture, food and water systems that are resilient, inclusive and sustainable. Open, transparent and predictable trade that is consistent with World Trade Organisation rules enhances market predictability, increases business confidence, and allows the free flow of agri-food trade. It is this unencumbered flow of produce that is the foundation of global food security and nutrition,” added Her Excellency.
Addressing the coronavirus crisis specifically, the ministers recognised the devastating human toll of COVID-19 and its far-reaching impact on food security and nutrition. They stated their intent to enhance water, sanitation and hygiene services to tackle the pandemic and called upon international organisations to continue monitoring and reporting on the impacts of the pandemic, to advise on emergency and recovery measures, and to provide recommendations on strengthening the global food system’s resilience and sustainability.
Highlighting the importance of adhering to the ‘One Health’ approach that recognises that the health of people is closely connected to the health of animals and the shared environment, the ministers called for robust mechanisms for monitoring, prevention, detection and control of zoonotic diseases (diseases caused by germs spread between animals and humans), as well as the development of science-based international guidelines on stricter safety and hygienic measures for zoonosis control.
The virtual meeting of G20 food and agriculture ministers concluded with an acknowledgement of the importance of intensifying efforts towards sustainable food security and resilient water management, as well as a strengthening of cooperation with all relevant stakeholders to achieve common goals. The ministers expressed their gratitude to Japan for its efforts on the G20 Presidency in 2019, thanked the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for their G20 leadership this year, and wished Italy the best for its G20 Presidency in 2021.