Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as
prepared for delivery, on the occasion of the briefing to Member States on the Food
Systems Summit, in New York on 4 September:
Thank you for joining this virtual briefing on the Food Systems Summit that will be convened by the Secretary-General next year. I would like to welcome colleagues that are joining us online from New York and Rome. The Rome-based United Nations agencies are playing an
important leadership role on this topic and I welcome this whole of system approach.
As we begin to look ahead to the annual high-level week of the General Assembly, including
the first annual Sustainable Development Goals Moment, it’s an opportune time to share
with you an update on the preparations that are already well under way on the Food
Systems Summit in 2021.
I am pleased to be joined today by the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Food
Systems Summit, Agnes Kalibata. We have shared a short background note in advance of
this meeting, and I look forward to hearing your views and answering any questions.
The Secretary-General announced his intention to convene this Summit to accelerate much-
needed action on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — our globally agreed
blueprint for people and planet. This decision built on an increasing recognition that
transforming our food systems must be central in our effort to achieve the Sustainable
For example, food systems and nutrition were identified in the 2019 Global Sustainable
Development Report as key entry points to accelerate the worldwide transition to a more
sustainable trajectory. Moreover, in the Ministerial Declaration of the 2018 high-level
political forum, Member States anticipated this finding and specifically called “on all
stakeholders to adopt a sustainable food systems approach”.
The urgency of this transition has been underscored by the effects of the COVID-19
pandemic. We need to rapidly rethink how we produce, process, market, and consume our
food and dispose of our waste. We should turn this crisis into an opportunity to rebalance
and transform our food systems, making them more inclusive, sustainable and resilient.
This transition is already under way. In all countries, stakeholders from every sector are
beginning to take action and change behaviours in support of a new vision of how food
arrives on our plate. They are increasingly aware that food systems are one of the most
powerful links between humans and the planet. They want to see a shift in these patterns in
a way that enhances inclusive economic growth and opportunity, while also safeguarding
our biodiversity and the global ecosystems that sustain life.
We have before us an unprecedented opportunity to capitalize on this growing movement
and craft a catalytic moment for public mobilization and actionable commitments to
accelerate our progress. As a foundational element of the Decade of Action to deliver the
Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, the Food Systems Summit recognizes that we
can transform our world in the next decade, but only by working together.
Only together can we end extreme poverty, win the race against climate change and
conquer injustice and gender inequality. Together we can embrace the complexity of our
modern world and take action to ensure equity and inclusion for all people. Together, as we
recover from the impacts of COVID-19, we can build the future we want.
The Summit will therefore seek to unleash bold new actions, innovative solutions and
strategies to transform our food systems and leverage these shifts to deliver progress
across all of the Sustainable Development Goals. The need is urgent, and our ambition is
high. For this reason, this must not be “just another conference”. We must act.
The Food Systems Summit should be thought of as both “a people’s summit” and “a
solutions summit”, recognizing that food systems touch all of society, and all stakeholders.
Every Government, organization and individual needs to do more. I will turn to the Special
Envoy in a moment to provide a more detailed update on our progress and plans for the
road ahead, but I do want to highlight a few elements:
First, I want to thank the regional groups for coming together and nominating two Member
States from each region to serve on the Advisory Committee. We held our first meeting in
early July, and I thank each of them for their engagement and for ensuring that they brought
broader regional perspectives to the table. Second, we expect a strong interface between
science, policy and action through this process. I am pleased that both the independent
Science Group and the system-wide United Nations Task Force have also held their first
Third, the Envoy will go into more detail on the five action tracks that will be at the centre of
the process ahead, but we will follow-up this meeting and provide more information and
invite you to express your interest in engaging in the work of the action tracks. We will be
seeking your expressions of interest by 30 September. Finally, we will also be looking to
you to support the convening of national dialogues on food systems at home.
Food systems vary by location and our approaches must be rooted in local and regional
realities. We hope that you will join in facilitating multi-stakeholder discussions that are
guided by the values of sustainable development, informed by science and experience and
oriented towards action.
Where possible, United Nations country teams will be your partner, and we see this as an
important opportunity to reflect on the role local food systems play in making progress on
sustainable development and to identify actions that help countries and local communities
overcome barriers to more rapid progress. They will be complemented by dialogues
undertaken independently both within countries and internationally.
Following today’s briefing, we can anticipate more activity around this process as we move
towards the United Nations General Assembly and the World Food Day in October. It is the
Secretary-General’s intention to communicate to you by then the approach on the venue
and timing of the Summit in light of the current global crisis. Any views you have on this
aspect are certainly welcome.
The Secretary-General and I are enthusiastic about the journey ahead, and we look forward
to your engagement and support. I look forward to today’s discussion, but first I will hand
over to our guide on this journey, our Special Envoy, Dr. Kalibata.