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African leaders and governments in Europe, Asia, and the Americas on Tuesday vowed to act “with urgency, at scale and in concert” in responding to the current food insecurity and nutrition crisis unfolding around the world.

The leaders, representing the African Union, European Union, United States, Spain, Colombia, Germany, Indonesia, and Nigeria, issued a joint declaration at the Global Food Security Summit (link is external) to affirm their commitment. Leaders also noted that overcoming global food insecurity would require innovative partnerships drawing in a wide range of key stakeholders in the global community.

The event took place on 20 September on the sidelines of the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City.

Senegal’s President Macky Sall, chair of the African Union, said around 800 million people were currently experiencing hunger, an increase of 150 million since the onset of Covid-19, according to a recent FAO report (link is external).

“When a crisis of this magnitude hits the world, every single country suffers,” President Sall said. He added that the situation worsened due to the war in Ukraine, which has triggered a sharp rise in food and fertilizers prices.

He cautioned against imposing trade restrictions.  “What is urgent today is to work together to ensure openness and transparency of markets for grains and fertilizer so that all countries can have access to them by international trade rules.”

Sall commended the African Development Bank for swiftly launching its $1.5 billion African Emergency Food Production Facility to avert a looming food crisis. The Bank’s facility will facilitate the production of 38 million Tonnes of food, representing a $12 billion increase in output in just two years.

As of July 2022, the Bank’s Board had approved a cumulative $1.13 billion in mixed financing to 24 African countries under the Facility.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called on governments, the private sector, the research community, and civil society to join the Global Alliance for Food Security, an initiative launched by the world’s most developed economies (G7) and the World Bank in May.

Sholz, current chair of the G7, cautioned that climate change was likely to sharpen food insecurity, demanding a response. “It is essential that at COP27 in Egypt in two months, all countries must have the political commitment and momentum for ambitious climate action…we need to see action now,” he said.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken called on wealthy countries to provide more emergency food assistance for those who needed it.

He stressed: “We have to strengthen global food systems and help countries develop the capacity to produce their food so that we can prevent new crises and build resilience to further shocks… We need durable agricultural production.  We have to respond to the emergency, but we also have to set ourselves up for the long term.”

In their joint declaration, the leaders highlighted seven actions set out in the Roadmap for Global Food Security, A Call to Action, which emerged from the Food Systems Summit held in 2021. These include:

Keep food, fertilizer, and agricultural markets open and avoid unjustified restrictive measures, such as export bans on food and fertilizer, which increase market volatility and threaten food security and nutrition globally.

Accelerate support for sustainable agriculture and food systems by bolstering productivity, particularly in the most affected countries, to build their resilience and boost domestic production, including supporting an energy transition that is just and equitable to make them more resilient and available to producers of all scale, including smallholder farmers.

Increase investments in research and technology to develop and implement science-based, climate-resilient agricultural innovations,

including seeds, that contribute to building sustainable and resilient agricultural and food systems.

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