Citing the global rise in hunger, malnourishment and food insecurity, Viorel Gutu underlines the need to transform current agrifood systems to build long-term resilience…
25 October 2021, Virtual event – On the occasion of World Food Day 2021, FAO, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Sustainability Academy, and the Turkish Food & Beverage Industry Employers Association (TÜGİS) jointly organized the 7th Sustainable Food Summit, held on 19-20 October. Bringing together leading figures from public institutions, the private sector, international organizations and civil society, the two-day summit focused on the future of food and shed light on recent trends and rapid changes in the food and agriculture sector.
In his opening speech, Bekir Pakdemirli, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, reiterated that in order to ensure sustainability, we need to change habits across the entire food system, from production to consumption. Pakdemirli also emphasized the urgency of this transformation, explaining that these changes must occur in advance of climate impacts. Pakdemirli stated that Turkey is among the countries that will be affected most by climate change. Citing Turkey’s efforts to improve its agriculture sector, Pakdemirli said that the Ministry has expanded the areas under organic agriculture, and is providing support to farmers using organic fertilizers and increasing irrigated farmland.
Murat Sungur Bursa, President of the Sustainability Academy, reminded the participants that the food sector is among the most important fields for the European Union Green Deal. He also drew attention to growing public recognition of the fact that resources are not endless.
Kaan Sidar, Secretary-General of TÜGİS, cited UN reports which emphasize that climate change is an international problem. Sidar also noted that the expansion of the middle class has increased demand for more diversified food. Highlighting the importance of water for food production, Sidar further stated that necessary measures should be taken to prevent water waste.
Viorel Gutu, Subregional Coordinator for Central Asia and FAO Representative in Turkey, shared some of the key findings of FAO’s flagship report The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021. Noting that hunger, malnourishment and food insecurity are on the rise in all regions of the world, Gutu underlined the need to transform our current agrifood systems to build long-term resilience. He also reflected on FAO’s recommendations to governments, private companies and civil society organizations to promote this transformation.
The summit continued with a panel entitled “Transformation of Food Systems”. Ayşegül Selışık, Assistant Representative of FAO Turkey, explained in more detail the basis for transforming agrifood systems and explained the benefits of a more sustainable, resilient and inclusive agrifood system.
Ahmet Volkan Güngören, Deputy Director-General of EU and Foreign Relations of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, underlined the fact that it is possible to increase agricultural production by using resources more efficiently without increasing agricultural land. Toker Ergüder, WHO Turkey Programme Director, pointed out that the burden of obesity-related diseases is increasing in Turkey, including in children. Nil Memişoğlu, UN Volunteers Country Director, emphasized the value of volunteering in the context of World Food Day 2021, and stated that voluntary initiatives and the voice of youth should receive greater attention.