On Thursday, 14 October, the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) at its 49th plenary session (CFS 49) gathered for the final day of discussions. CFS 49 elected Gabriel Ferrero, Ambassador at Large for Global Food Security, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Spain, as its next Chair, taking over from Thanawat Tiensin (Thailand). Mr Ferraro received 73 of 121 total votes cast against 48 votes for Médi Moungui, Cameroon, who was the other candidate.
In addition to electing the new Chair and Bureau, Thursday also featured the CFS Secretariat’s Special Event, which was hosted by Chris Hegadorn, CFS Secretary. Ndaya Beltchika, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), moderated a segment to mark the 13th International Day of Rural Women on 15 October 2021, to discuss the important contributions of rural women and the challenges they have faced in the context of COVID-19 and its recovery.
Jyotsna Puri, Associate Vice-President, IFAD, gave a keynote address commending CFS for bringing the topic of women’s and girls’ empowerment to the fore. Subsequently, CFS delegates and stakeholders heard from four women from Africa, Asia, and South America, about their on-the-ground experiences.
Her Royal Highness, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Special Ambassador for Hunger, addressed CFS 49 via video, stressing that women’s and girls’ empowerment gives the greatest return on investment because of their multiple roles in society. Noting increasing challenges to progress in this area, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, she said it is an issue of fundamental rights, and that it is essential we keep our commitments to “our mothers, daughters, future generations, and society as a whole.”
The second half of the special event was a roundtable discussion on building synergies between the CFS, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and the three Rio Conventions: the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UNEP, noted that food systems contribute to the planetary crises, which in turn affect food systems, causing hardship for farmers and driving up consumer food prices. She called for strengthening action around the commitments made in the Rio conventions. Patricia Espinosa, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, commended farmers and everyone involved in food production for their role in achieving global food systems that have enabled human progress, highlighting the challenge of feeding 8 billion people on the planet in the era of environmental degradation. She said countries must step up climate action in order to meet food security goals. Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, CBD Executive Secretary, urged all state and no-state actors to come together to resolve the food, biodiversity and climate crises, stressing that “we need all hands on deck” to strengthen synergies.
On Thursday afternoon, Chair Tiensin announced the results of the election of the CFS Chair and Bureau, which took place during the day, confirming Gabriel Ferrero as the new CFS Chair. Addressing Members, Chair-Elect Ferrero underlined that everyone is an agent of change, and called on all Members to join forces and work together, particularly during the pandemic. QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General, congratulated the new CFS Chairperson and thanked Mr Moungui. The Director-General pledged FAO’s support to the new Chair including by ensuring CFS features in its regional conferences and by continuing to promote and advocate for CFS products through its country offices world-wide. He also thanked Mr Tiensin for his great leadership that has made CFS more effective and inclusive.
Chair Tiensin bade everyone farewell and closed CFS 49 at 16:45 CET.
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