Joint Statement on impact of COVID-19 on food availability and supply

From: Global Affairs Canada

The Honourable Ms. Emanuela Claudia Del Re, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, as Chair of the Group of Friends of Food Security and Nutrition in New York, the Honourable Ms. Karina Gould, Minister of International Development of Canada, the Honourable Mr. Orlando Leite Ribeiro, Vice Minister for Trade and International Relations of the Ministry of Agriculture Livestock and Food Supply, and the High Level Representative of Egypt, Ambassador Mohamed Edrees Permanent Representative to the UN, today issued the following statement:

“On Friday April 17th, we convened an extraordinary virtual video conference bringing together Ambassadors from across the entire membership of the United Nations with the participation of the President of the General Assembly, the Deputy Secretary General, the President of IFAD, the Executive Director of WFP, the Chief Economist and Assistant Director General of FAO and the Special Envoy for the 2021 Food Systems Summit to exchange views and experiences on actions that may be taken to mitigate the potential socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 on food availability and supply and to attain food security. We thank the more than 270 participants who attended.

“We were seized by the real concerns that the current health crisis could trigger a food crisis in many regions of the world, especially in Africa and Small Islands Developing States, further imperiling the health and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people, in particular in fragile contexts. Such a crisis could lead to additional negative consequences to health. Signs of disruptions to food supply chains are already visible as countries move to enact measures to halt the pandemic.

“We were reminded of how many countries rely heavily on regular imports of basic staples and food distribution channels. There are particular vulnerabilities in many developing countries in Africa and parts of Asia and Latin America, including among Least Developed Countries, Land-Locked Developing Countries, and Small Island Developing States, where agriculture is the backbone of the economy and employment. Local, regional, and global food security will depend more than ever on strengthening the resilience of food systems to withstand multiple shocks, and also on helping smallholder farmers, fishers, pastoralists and food processors – many of whom are women – obtain inputs, plant and harvest their crops, and sell their products for a fair price in a safe environment.

“We were struck by the urgent call for action, taking into account the upcoming planting and harvest seasons and the need to enhance the resilience of the food supply chain, recognizing the potential impact of major demand and supply shocks on agri-food producers, agricultural workers and the large number of women and men employed in related activities. We welcomed the active and close collaboration of the Rome-based UN agencies (FAO, IFAD and WFP), at headquarters and in the field, leveraging their expertise on food security in support of countries’ actions to minimize unintended impacts of the COVID-19 response on food supply, global trade and food security. This included collaboration with other partners such as WHO, WTO and the International Financial Institutions (IFIs). We call on the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) of the G20 to continue monitoring global food markets and policies and provide timely and reliable information, thus enhancing transparency and supporting timely and evidence-based decision-making.

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