Future of Global Governance of Agriculture and Food System

Statement by Haoliang Xu, UN ASG and Director of UNDP's Bureau for Policy and Programme Support at the invitation of Sigrid Kaag, Minister of Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands. (74th UN GA)

September 23, 2019

Thank you for inviting UNDP along with other sister UN agencies to discuss the important topic of transitioning Agriculture and Food Systems towards sustainability.

We believe that transforming food and agriculture systems is a human development issue. It is of key importance to UNDP as a pre-requisite to achieving many of the SDGs and it underpins achievement of SDG1, which is at the core of our mandate. What happens on a farm is largely determined by the policies across multiple sectors of economy which demand whole-of-government approaches. We also believe that transforming food and agriculture systems will not be possible without addressing issues of governance, equity, inclusion and resilience, which are central to our mandate and core competencies.

Testimony to how important Agriculture and Food Systems are to UNDP are the recent engagement of our Administrator in co-writing a chapter of the 2019 IFPRI Global Food Policy Report and in chairing the High-level Panel of Experts for transforming global food systems under a changing climate, due to release its report around COP 25.

Our Food and Agricultural Commodity Systems strategy is currently under internal review to better define our vision, key expected results and interventions areas, tapping in the experience from our USD 1.27 billion portfolio of related projects, as well as partnerships with UN agencies and other relevant organizations.  

We are thus very interested in contributing to the discussion and partnering with other UN agencies on strengthening the global governance of the food and agriculture system because:

  • We believe that a Global Declaration and Platform on Food and Agriculture Systems of the type of the New York Declaration on Forests, whose Secretariat is hosted by UNDP, could be an option to consider.
  • It would bring various UN agencies and multilateral banks together as leads and facilitators, and would be linked to the achievements of the SDGs, with clear impacts on poverty reduction and resilience building.
  • It would garner commitments from governments and the private sector.

However, it should also be strongly connected down to producers at country level, and hence requires the ability to connect global, national and local levels. For instance, in the global commodities sector, the Global Declaration and Platform could entice large buyer countries like China or India, or global retailers and processors to make new responsible sourcing commitments, and then support them to act on these commitments by better connecting them, beyond their supply chains, to producing countries governments and stakeholders. UNDP is already testing this modality with our Initiative ¨From Commitment to Action¨ in Latin America, where we support Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador to accelerate a reduction in deforestation from agricultural commodities. Such a Declaration could evolve with sufficient interest and time, towards an International Convention.

Finally, we believe in the strong role of evidence-based knowledge in the transition to sustainable food systems, and sister UN agencies such as FAO as well as academic and research organizations such as Wageningen should be well positioned to strengthen the global science base.

We are happy to contribute here also, where relevant, possibly through our country-level work and NDCs.

Clearly there will be many options to assess for strengthening the global governance of the Food and Agriculture systems. UNDP is willing to engage in the discussion and do our part.

Thank you.