Remarks to the Technical Working Group for Food Security and Nutrition
21 July 2021
Remarks by Mr Alexandre Huynh, FAO Representative and Co-Lead Facilitator
HE Dr Yim Chhay Ly, Deputy Prime Minister, Chairman of CARD and Chairman for the Technical Working Group for Food Security and Nutrition
HE Veng Sakhon, Minister for MAFF
A special welcome to my Co-Lead Facilitator, Mr Jost Kadel, Deputy Head of Mission for the Federal Republic of Germany,
Excellences, Lok Chum Teav, Ladies and Gentlemen, members of TWG-FSN
And the representatives of the Provincial Working Groups for Coordinating Food Security and Nutrition who are joining us for the first time online, for this meeting of the TWG-Food Security and Nutrition.
Excellences, Lok Chum Teav, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is indeed an honour to speak at this historic meeting of the TWG-FSN, our first full meeting online and a meeting with such strong display of unity in interest, both at the national and subnational level. In some ways COVID-19 restricts all that we do, and in others, it has opened new doors for us and avenues for working together. In fact, this meeting serves us both for a meeting of the TWG and as a critical event for Stage 3 of the National Food Systems Dialogues for Cambodia. This is good preparation perhaps for the approaching online Food Systems Pre-Summit in Rome, hosted by the UN Secretary General and the Prime Minister of Italy.
The invitation from the UN Secretary General to Member States to join the Dialogues and the Global Summit came at a time when the world was already recognising that we were off track to meet some key targets for the SDGs, with hunger a growing problem around the world. Events since that time have seen a worsening situation, as evidenced by the recent release of the State of Food Insecurity. The Food Summit comes at a time when there is a clear and urgent need for the transformation of food systems for sustainability by 2030. Cambodia was quick to respond to the invitation from the Secretary General and to appoint HE Sok Silo as National Convenor for the Dialogues. Since that moment, Cambodia has been in the forefront of the more than 130 countries around the globe who are participating. The dialogue organisers recognise the leadership that Cambodia has shown and expect more to follow.
The dialogues have been designed to encourage inclusiveness, trust and respect for others’ views. From the outset, this process has been curated with intentions to: listen to each other; welcome diverse perspectives; seek out new connections; explore both synergy and divergence; collaborate to identify promising courses of action; and to debate the potential impacts of different strategies.
I have seen that HE Sok Silo and the team working on the National Food Systems Dialogues in Cambodia have put in a tremendous effort to embrace these guidelines, to maintain enthusiasm for the process and for their energy in producing clear outputs based on the dialogue feedback.
Some of the results emerging from the dialogues point to the importance of the engagement and empowerment of women, youth and consumers in the transformation of the food system. We have seen clear commitments from relevant ministries and institutions based on existing sectoral plans and policies.
Using agriculture as an example, as HE Veng Sakhon, has indicated, there is strong progress towards sustainability for the agricultural sector, with the Agricultural Development Policy 2021-2030 now finalized and the Agricultural Sector Master Plan 2030 close to completion. The policy papers reflect the long-term vision of the MAFF and fit to the recommendations made to the PM to MAFF Minister by Samdech Prime Minister. The E-agriculture Strategy in preparation, supported by the MAFF and Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, points to the critical role of digital innovations and technologies for boosting agricultural productivity, food safety and food system resilience in a post-COVID world.
Many ministries and institutions have a key role to play in the transformation of the food system and progress towards sustainability for 2030 and it is gratifying to see so many represented here.
Likewise, the development partners, civil society and the private sector have expressed their views on sustainable food systems during the dialogues and there is an alignment of interests around ending hunger for all, promoting sustainable consumption, environmentally sound production techniques, equitable livelihoods and resilience in food systems in Cambodia. This level of consensus shows how well the underlying interests can be fitted to more sustainable food systems for Cambodia and it also shows us where the points of divergence of interest and the trade-offs are likely to occur. Strong leadership and direction are required to ensure that what has started here in the Dialogues is a beginning, and not simply a passing fad. We look to our leaders to make a bold stand and bold statements on the global stage and at home as we move forward to make the vision for sustainable food systems a reality.
I would also like to note a major step for positive engagement with the private sector in relation to food systems, with the birth last week of the SUN Business Network. This accomplishment is the result of several years of work by the SUN Movement in Cambodia, and of CARD and WFP in particular, with support and leadership from within the private sector. We all look forward to the growth of the network and to the promotion of positive behaviours in the private sector, stimulating enterprise, innovation, investment profitable outcomes, and employment opportunities. When we look at the value added for GDP based on agricultural, fisheries, and forest production, we can see just how much the processing, distribution, selling and service from enterprises and industries that make up the food system really contribute to the economy.
In closing, let me congratulate the RGC and partners, civil society and the private sector on the achievements so far in the Food Systems Dialogues. On behalf of FAO, I wish to commit our full support to making the Food Systems Summit a success for Cambodia, and a basis for strong progress towards sustainability. The UN commitment to the dialogues and to food systems transformations extends from the very top level, reaching out through UN Nutrition and wider interests of UN Agencies in financing, industry, commerce, education, social protection and other areas. This is reflected by support from the UNRC Pauline Tamesis, and the UNCT. I would also like to acknowledge the support from the EU for the contribution made by the EU-FAO FIRST team, including the rapid adaptation of online capabilities.
The Summit Organizers have seen this potential unfolding and they expect good things and real leadership from Cambodia, not just in the process of the dialogues but in terms of the results.
We now have a draft roadmap for discussion, emerging from the dialogues. We can all see our areas of work reflected in this roadmap and we commend the government for guiding this tremendous participatory process. ”As Cambodia is set to graduate from Least Development Country status, its food systems will serve as a critical foundation for the elimination of hunger, poverty reduction and sustainable development, ensuring that no one is left behind.”