Signing Ceremony - MoU with Savola Foods

Speech Delivered By Alessandro Fracassetti, UNDP Resident Representative in Egypt

August 23, 2022


As prepared for Delivery


Your Excellency Dr. Rania Al-Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Sameh Hassan, Chief Executive Officer, Savola Foods

Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

  • It is a great pleasure to be with you here today to mark the signing of an important cooperation agreement between UNDP, the UN development agency and Savola, a regional agri-food business.
  • I would like to thank Dr. Rania Al Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation, for joining us today to witness the signing ceremony and for your valuable partnership with UNDP in bringing about positive change, innovation and transformation.
  • I would like to take this opportunity to briefly highlight the crucial role that private businesses play in tackling global challenges.
  • But I also want to point out that business, too, depends upon and benefits from development.
  • Directly and indirectly, businesses are contributing to and gaining from the implementation of agreed international objectives such as the global Agenda 2030, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and – in Egypt – the National Development Agenda: Vision 2030.
  • When we talk about the SDGs, we are not only talking about the reasonable responses and aims of governments facing complex global development challenges. From a business perspective, these goals can be understood as a risk map of the 21st century, featuring 17 very serious business risks.
  • Faced with these risks, the private sector needs to invest in the SDGs as the best possible insurance policy for an uncertain future.
  • Businesses around the world know that resilience and business continuity ultimately depend on adapting to change, including anticipating risks and opportunities.
  • And the greatest risk of all is climate change. Companies of all types and sizes will need to adapt their models, practices and strategies fast to survive.
  • It is widely believed that public international organizations and multinational businesses have divergent interests that impose limits on their cooperation.
  • Our work with Savola suggests otherwise.
  • Instead, this cooperation shows there is a great deal to gain in getting into joint work and structured dialogue.
  • UNDP and Savola’s joint work touch upon three strategic enablers: 1) Integrated approaches; 2) strategic innovation; and 3) new development finance.

The first strategic enabler is to use integrated solutions as a default approach

  • Climate adaptation and food security are two major issues for Egypt. Yet they can be tackledsimultaneously with an integrated approach.
  • Therefore, we took an integrated approach in our work with Savola on solutions for agriculture in the Nile Delta. Egypt’s breadbasket, the Nile Delta has been classified as one of the world’s top three hotspots in terms of vulnerability to climate change. The fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has further highlighted that the impacts of climate change here will be most severe for the agriculture sector, putting huge added pressure on Egypt food security.
  • Even before the war in Ukraine hugely exacerbated food insecurity, UNDP and Savola had already drafted a pilot strategy on climate resilient crops. In this strategy we warned of the “looming threat posed by climate change to global grain supplies in general, and to Egypt’s food security in particular”. The risk that motivated our collaboration has become all the more severe and urgent and looks likely to persist in the long run.
  • Integrated solutions for Climate Change adaptation will feature prominently at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh in November.  

The second strategic enabler is the role of strategic innovation and learning for accelerating development solutions

  • Bringing about a green and climate-resilient economy, even just in the agriculture sector, is a complex and daunting challenge. Achieving the systemic change, we propose in Egypt’s food system requires major market transformations in the long, ingrained value chains that link farmers to households.
  • In addition, the pace and dynamics of today’s challenges are fundamentally different from previous eras.
  • Every year sees a new record broken in global temperatures. Time is running out and businesses need to change fast to meet the challenge. The scale and urgency of the changes call for new tools.
  • UNDP is changing its development work to strive to learn, validate, and demonstrate possible solutions in short cycles. We achieve this by piloting, experimenting, learning collectively and adapting fast to lessons learnt. In recent years, we have made great efforts to accelerate the pace of learning, including through the creation of teams dedicated to taking up and trying out ideas to speed up development solutions.
  • These teams include the experts in our Accelerator labs that are now present in 90 countries. Through this focus on experimenting and accelerated learning, we are ensuring that UNDP and our partners remain responsive, agile and risk informed.  

The third strategic enabler is a broadened development finance

  • Public actions and official development assistance alone cannot achieve the SDGs including our focus today SDG 2: zero hunger and SDG 13: combat climate change and its impact.
  • In purely monetary terms, globally, there is an estimated annual gap of 3.4 trillion US Dollars in public budgets for attaining these goals, including SDG 13 on Climate Action.
  • Scaling up solutions to achieve real impact requires capital. That means we need to link solutions to investors. 
  • As a major investor, Savola is always seeking opportunities that create value and returns. In accordance with its motto Value built on values, however, Savola is looking to invest in projects that have a measurable social and environmental impact.
  •  Like Savola, many other investors are also on the lookout for business opportunities that can demonstrate their commitment to achieving sustainable impact through the governance for and measurement of impact.
  • To meet this need, UNDP has developed SDG impact standards and associated an Impact Measurement and Management tools for enterprises and investors. These tools help businesses to integrate sustainability principles in their strategies and incorporate sustainability metrics in their decision-making.
  •  In March this year, UNDP celebrated the launch of the first Impact Fund in Egypt, together with Catalyst Partners and the Ministry of International Cooperation. Impact investment can leverage the financing needed for the SDGs. These investments are already happening because they make business sense, for now and for the future.
  • And we hope that our partnership with Savola Foods will inspire even more businesses to invest in their sustainable impact, best measured through the lens of the universal agenda 2030, at the very heart of all processes.
  • Thank you for your attention.