Remarks by the UN Resident Coordinator at the Lesotho Food Systems Summit.
Master of Ceremony, allow me to pass my respects to,
The Head of State, Your Majesty King Letsie III
The Right Honourable The Prime Minister, Dr. Moeketsi Majoro
Honourable President of The Senate
Honourable Speaker of The National Assembly
His Lordship President of The Court of Appeal
His Lordship The Chief Justice
Honourable Deputy Prime Minister
Honorable Members of Parliament
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers of His Majesty’s Government
Their Lordships Judges of The Court of Appeal and The High Court
Heads of Diplomatic missions
My colleagues from UN Agencies
Senior Government Officials
Representatives of Non-Governmental Organisations and Civil Society
Members of The Media
Bo Mme Le Bo Ntate
All Protocol Observed
On behalf of the United Nations in Lesotho, i am honoured and privileged to make these remarks at this important dialogue on the National Food Systems.
As you may recall, as part of the Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, the Secretary-General of the United Nations has made the call, for world leaders to come together in a form of a Summit in September 2021. The summit will establish the future direction of food systems and inspire action to help build back better in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Transforming food systems has been recognised as central in the efforts to achieve all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
The Lesotho Food Systems Summit is part of a global effort by the United Nations Secretary General to enable governments to engage with local food systems stakeholders to explore how food systems can make significant contributions to the realization of all of the Sustainable Development Goals. The Global Food Systems Summit will incorporate solutions from National Food Systems Dialogues, such as Lesotho’s summit happening today, as well as from scientists, policymakers and business leaders. It is our hope that the National and Global Dialogues will identify local and practical solutions to protect and strengthen food systems.
We applaud the Kingdom of Lesotho for joining the other countries to respond to this call. Food systems touch every aspect of human existence. The health of our food systems deeply affects the health of our bodies, as well as the health of our environment, our economies and our cultures.
Good and functional food systems have the ability to bring us together as families, communities and nations. But too many of the world’s food systems are fragile, unexamined and vulnerable as millions of people around the globe have already experienced first-hand during the COVID-19 crisis. When our food systems fail, the resulting disorder threatens our education, health, environment and economy, as well as human rights, peace and security.
Your Majesty, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
This summit is timely and more relevant amidst this pandemic which has exuberated the fragilities and inequalities in the food systems. These fragilities and inequalities underscore the urgent need to ensure food systems are more sustainable, inclusive and resilient. The challenge to build sustainable, resilient and inclusive food systems that make food affordable, nutritious and accessible to all, will require impactful interventions at all levels of policy and actions. It will require transforming infrastructure and services, improving and upscaling innovation and technologies, based on an understanding of the drivers and root causes of food insecurity. These transformations require both political leadership and investments to bring about systemic change.
We are all aware that the transformation of food systems has the potential to end hunger. On the other hand, the transformation of food systems into sustainable, environmentally friendly, inclusive and productive systems also has the opportunity to end poverty through creating job opportunities, to improve individuals health through better nutrition. Such systems will contribute towards gender equality through empowering women and female landowners, and much more.
Lesotho has long experienced challenges in attaining sustainable, inclusive and resilient food systems. Recurrent droughts, land degradation, floods, inadequate food supply chains and a lack of access to markets and finance for many smallholder farmers has resulted in steadily decreasing harvests. Food production in Lesotho has decreased for three consecutive years. At the same time, the proportion of the population that are food insecure has risen steadily over the past five years.
The Food Systems Summit present a collective and catalytic opportunity for us to make a significant leap forward as we emerge from the current crisis.
Your Majesty, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
It is gratifying to note your Majesty’s dedication as African Union’s Champion on Nutrition, as FAO’s Special Ambassador for Nutrition and as The World Bank’s Champion for Human Capital. Your leadership in these roles, has pioneered the nations response towards achievement of development goals. Rea u lebohela Ntate!
Bo-‘Me le Bo-Ntate, I have full confidence that in our journey towards the Global Food System Summit, this national dialogue will be successful in achieving equitable food systems goals enabling Basotho to engage in practicing food systems in their totality.
I thank you all for participating here today, in this national dialogue and I encourage all of you to contribute meaningfully to the debate to better prepare our contributions to the Global summit and consequently eradicate food insecurity.