A panel discussion on food sustainability at Expo 2020.
The European Union (EU) hosted a high-level panel discussion at Expo 2020 Dubai focusing on sustainable food systems with speakers from the EU, Italy, Japan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The event was hosted in the Italian Pavilion at Expo, and was attended by Andrea Matteo Fontana, EU Ambassador to the UAE and Commissioner-General to Expo 2020 Dubai, Arai Yutaka, Vice-Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Japan, Ms Sara Roversi, President of the Future Food Institute in Italy, and Dr Tarifa al Zaabi, Acting Director General of the International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture in the UAE.
The panel discussion was the 3rd session of the “Farm to Fork Conference – Building sustainable food systems together”, an annual gathering of stakeholders, organised by the European Commission in the run up to the World Food Day. It provides a forum for discussion on the challenges and opportunities linked to the transition to sustainable food systems.
Over 1500 people attended the Farm to Fork conference 2021, a hybrid meeting with the majority of the audience joining virtually. It focused on the progress made on the initiatives foreseen in the EU Farm to Fork strategy’s action plan, support the European Union’s (EU) efforts to achieve a global transition to sustainable food systems and put emphasis on transition enablers.
Speaking at the event, EU Ambassador Andrea Matteo Fontana, said: “Global challenges require global solutions. As we have seen with the COVID19 pandemic, only international coordinated action is able to tackle worldwide issues and build back better. At the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit, 168 States confirmed the importance of sustainable food systems in advancing the 2030 Agenda nationally and globally. The EU, as the biggest importer and exporter of agri-food products in the world, should lead the transition towards sustainable food systems. With the Farm to Fork Strategy, the EU aims to work with its bilateral and multilateral partners to build resilient and sustainable food systems throughout the world.”
In her intervention, Japan’s Vice-Minister for Agriculture, Arai Yutaka, said: “We need to achieve reducing environmental impact while increasing food production to meet the population growth. Innovation and behaviour changes of players are the keys to achieve these goals.”
Japanese Vice-Minister Yutaka commented also that the EU and Japan will “work together on robust solutions and pathways based on the diversity of our natural and societal circumstances as well as dietary cultures.”
The session aimed at bringing together actors involved in the international scene, to discuss about international partnerships, trade and cooperation in the framework of sustainable food systems.
The Italian example can be helpful in providing good practices and experience in developing partnerships, more particularly in the Mediterranean region.
“We need to be responsible. We are trying to create a global ecosystem to accelerate and facilitating connection between sustainable goals. Helping people to take the right decisions and change mind-sets,” said Ms Sara Roversi, President of the Italian Future Food Institute.
Dr Tarifa al Zaabi, Acting Director General of the UAE International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture stated that: “The UAE has done a great job in terms of sustaining and developing the food systems. We focus on research and development, bringing the youth on board, to find solutions to issues like climate change and water scarcity.”
The Farm to Fork Strategy is at the heart of the European Green Deal Search for available translations of the preceding aiming to make food systems fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly.
The Farm to Fork Strategy aims to accelerate our transition to a sustainable food system that should:
have a neutral or positive environmental impact help to mitigate climate change and adapt to its impacts
reverse the loss of biodiversity ensure food security, nutrition and public health, making sure that everyone has access to sufficient, safe, nutritious, sustainable food preserve affordability of food while generating fairer economic returns, fostering competitiveness of the EU supply sector and promoting fair trade.
Over 100 international officials, policymakers and innovators recently attended the first European Union event at Expo 2020 Dubai titled, “EU Green Deal: Research & Innovation as a driver towards climate neutrality”. The event was hosted in partnership with the Sweden Pavilion in the Sustainability District and featured a high-level hybrid workshop, and an EU projects’ networking village showcasing success innovation stories and breakthroughs.
In his opening remarks, Ambassador Andrea Matteo Fontana, EU Commissioner-General to Expo, said, “The EU is paving a responsible path to becoming the first climate-neutral region in the world by 2050. So, at Expo 2020, we will look at how we can promote green economies, renewable energy, reduce pollution and tackle climate change, thereby ensuring a green economic recovery post-COVID-19.”
The aim of the event, taking place conveniently during Expo’s Climate and Sustainability Week and the EU Climate Diplomacy Weeks currently ongoing, is to highlight the EU’s excellence in research and innovation as a tool towards climate neutrality and sustainability, and the EU’s ambition of cooperating with partners toward the achievement of this global goal.
Mariya Gabriel, the EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, in her message at the event highlighted that research and innovation are at the centre of the EU action against climate change.
“While COVID-19 has presented serious challenges to societies, individuals and businesses. There is today an opportunity to use this disruption as a catalyst for positive change: Building back better, greener and in a more gender-neutral way are key goals,” noted Jan Thesleff, Commissioner-General at the Swedish Committee for the participation at Expo 2020, Co-Chair of the MENA-OECD Women’s Economic Empowerment Forum.
Other high-level officials and policymakers addressed the event including Jan Budaj, Minister of Environment of Slovak Republic; Natasa Pilides, Minister of Energy, Commerce and Industry of Cyprus; Dr. Hannah Neumann, Member of European Parliament chairing the Delegation for Relations with the Arab Peninsula; Dr. Mohamed Al Rashidi, Director of Electricity & Water Department and Acting Director of Energy of GCC General SecretariatL and Gauri Singh, Deputy Director-General of IRENA, among others.
During the workshop, the high-level experts presented the new EU research and innovation programme (Horizon Europe) and discussed ways to promote and finance clean energy innovation, featuring the ambitions activities of Mission Innovation, a key multilateral initiative in the context of the European Green Deal that the EU is presently co-chairing.
The event also included debates with industry, representatives of research, innovation and financial institutions on financing innovations for the energy transition and on implementing energy transition projects.
The networking village featured successful EU projects and breakthroughs that already help deliver the European Green Deal objectives and climate neutrality, including in partnership with Mission Innovation members.