Select Speaking Engagements
Transforming Food Systems for Affordable Healthy Diets: Global and National Strategies
(Jakarta Post Webinar “Up Close”)
Poverty and inequality are endemic in agri-food systems, by far the world’s largest economic system. And while achieving transformative change is the core aspiration for the Sustainable Development Goals, systemic interactions and trade-offs make it complex. To handle this, we need models and open platforms for data sharing. And we need to bring science into the governance process. The Food Systems Summit 2021 presents a unique opportunity to test new models for integrating science and policy.
The future of food systems is about increasing resilience. This means minimizing vulnerabilities and coping with risks when they occur. Investments in early warning systems, promotion of “one health” approach to prevent zoonotic diseases, and access to agricultural insurance can minimize vulnerabilities. To cope with risks, COVID-19 recovery plans must be linked to robust social protection programs and trade; infrastructure initiatives should be linked to financial systems; smart investments in digital innovations in food and agriculture is critical.
The European Food Systems: The Transition Toward Sustainability and Climate Mitigation
We face significant crises today. More than 690 million people are undernourished and soon an additional 130 million people could join their ranks. The European “Green Deal” and the “Farm to Fork” strategy offer an opportunity to transform the region’s agri-food systems, essential in producing healthy foods sustainably and cutting food loss and waste. It is paramount to measure and minimize the trade-offs of policies to achieve the goal of eliminating hunger.
Overcoming Water Challenges in Agriculture
(SOFA 2020 Launch at FAO)
Today, 1.2 billion people live in agricultural areas that suffer from a high recurrence of drought or extreme water scarcity. The State of Food and Agriculture 2020 takes stock of the situation and proposes a three-pronged strategy to respond. First, ensure more productive use of water in agriculture. Second, secure water for ecosystem function. Third, provide equitable access to water for everyone.
Urgent Call for Agri-Food Systems Transformation to Achieve Healthy Diets for All
(FAO Special Seminar on Food and Nutrition)
There’s an urgent need to build resilience around food systems by using accelerators such as big data, technology and innovation. But if governance, human capital and institutions are overlooked, these accelerators will not be able to reduce inequality. To help countries minimize future risks, FAO is investing in early warning systems, working to prevent the emergence of zoonotic reservoirs, and increasing access to agricultural insurance.
Economic Growth vs. Integral Human Development
(The Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences)
Global hunger is driven by lack of access to food, not availability of food. The global recession caused by COVID-19 has exacerbated food access for the poor, making inequality worse. The tough situation has forced governments to look at things differently. While a significant investment in infrastructure, innovation and technology that look past simple infrastructure upgrades can spur growth, without addressing inequality, progress in poverty reduction will not last. Inclusive growth requires complements: governance, human capital and institutions.
Agri-Food Trade Policy in Europe and Central Asia During COVID-19 and Beyond
(Food and Agriculture Organization and World Trade Organization)
With the resurgence of COVID-19 cases, the major threat is the pandemic-induced recession. Erasing decades of progress made in poverty reduction, it could push as many as 132 million people into the hunger trap just in 2020 and exacerbate global hunger. So we are in a very risky situation — without food and health, we could fall off a cliff. Technology, innovation, data, human capital, institutions, and good governance can help us become more resilient.
Partnering to Transform Food Systems Globally
Climate variability, conflict, economic downturns and surprises (like COVID-19) are the core drivers of hunger. Even before the pandemic, 690 million people were undernourished. Now the pandemic-induced recession and job losses have people struggling to buy food, contributing to the rise of hunger and deepening inequality. The only solution is to reform our food systems, so that it becomes more efficient, inclusive and resilient.
Global Food Supply Chains: An Early Assessment of COVID-19 Impacts
(Center for Strategic and International Studies)
Food insecurity is rising, but it’s not due to disruptions to global food supply chains. Food is becoming harder to come by because of the recession and loss of jobs. Moreover, developed countries’ expansive stimulus packages are negatively affecting developing countries’ economies and contributing to their food price hikes. Countries must focus on building resilience of their food systems to prepare for the next shock.
Food Trade Policy, G20 and COVID-19
(World Trade Organization)
Similar to the situation earlier this year, food markets face uncertainties. The fallout from the pandemic, including weak economic growth, unstable energy and currency markets, and continued trade tensions are some of the major challenges. Nonetheless, current prospects point to generally well-supplied markets. As was the case before, the issue is access to food, as hundreds of millions of people remain undernourished, in spite of abundant supply.
Addressing Food Loss and Waste: A Global Problem with Local Solutions
(The World Bank)
FAO’s efforts to cut food loss and waste center around data, technology, innovation and governance. For example, FAO has launched the Food Loss Index to better understand the problems of food loss and where in the value chains they occur, so that they can be better targeted. As COVID-19 recession deepens, governments must focus on helping farmers build resilience. FAO has been making catalytic investments, and the World Bank has the resources to scale up these efforts.
Global Value Chains, Smallholder Farmers and Digital Innovations
(SOCO 2020 Launch at FAO)
The State of Agricultural Commodity Markets 2020 focuses on the role of trade in sustainable development. It is difficult to believe that today 690 million people are undernourished, and that 3 billion people cannot afford healthy food. Global value chain is the most efficient way to make food available for everyone. Our job is to bring smallholder farmers into global value chains through innovation, technology, education and governance, so that they can reach their productivity potential and escape poverty.
Planet, People, Prosperity
A Thriving World for Our Future Generation
(Future of Food Institute)
Today, there are 3 billion people who cannot afford to buy healthy foods. The need for change has never been greater. But as COVID-19 has shown, food systems are resilient and flexible. By taking a holistic approach, in which everyone plays a part, especially young people, we can create a movement to transform food systems and make progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals.
Why the Andes, Why Now?
Role of the Andean Region for Human and Planetary Health
(Andean Initiative and International Potato Center)
The Andes host the greatest range of mountain biodiversity and are the frontier of agriculture in the highest altitude in the world. Climate extremes are embedded in traditional smallholder management practices. By better understanding climatic extremes experienced in the Andes, we can better prepare for what might happen elsewhere in the world.
Transforming Food Systems for Affordable Healthy Diets
(SOFI 2020 virtual launch at the United Nations; Virtual Press Conference; PPT Presentation)
The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020 has critical data updates on China and other countries, allowing more accurate estimation of the number of chronically undernourished people across the globe: about 690 million people went hungry in 2019, up by 10 million from 2018. To stave off lasting damage to health, governments must offset the soaring cost of healthy diets, especially in regions that have been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Food Security in the Pandemic
(The New York Academy of Sciences)
Most of the world’s hungry people live in poorer countries where sources of income — from tourism to remittances — have dried up due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Governments must respond by equally protecting and promoting health, food and the economy.
Latin America in 2020: Another Last Decade?
(The Oxford Union Latin America Debate)
From South America and the Andes to the Caribbean, Latin American nations vary in their vulnerabilities to COVID-19 and financial capacities to respond to it. By tackling inequality and investing in education and institutions, they can remove barriers to development, education and trade to fuel long-term growth.
Food Security and COVID-19
(Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg)
The situation today is different from the 2007-2008 global food crisis because, unlike then, there is plenty of food. The global stocks of food staples are high and healthy harvests are expected. But keeping the food supply chains operating is key to averting a food crisis. Trade restrictions and panic hoarding will only disrupt supply chains, creating artificial shortages.
Moving Forward on Food Loss and Waste Reduction
(SOFA 2019 launch at CSIS)
From improving food security and economic efficiency to carbon sequestration, reducing food loss and waste can bring tremendous benefits. The challenge is to improve data to find out how much food is lost and identify critical loss points in the food supply chain to develop effective interventions. The State of World’s Food and Agriculture 2019 takes policymakers to tasks.
Food Loss and Waste Reduction Can Improve Food Security and Climate Change
(SOFA 2019 launch at FAO)
Based on data from governments and independent studies, The State of Food and Agriculture 2019 estimates that globally, around 14 percent of food is lost between post-harvest and wholesale stages of the food supply chain. It argues that with improved data, food loss and waste reduction can help improve food security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Economic Resilience Is Key to Protecting Food and Nutrition Security
(SOFI 2019 launch at the United Nations New York)
The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2019 alerts us that economic turmoil negatively affects food security and nutrition. Countries need to act now to boost social protection programs and protect incomes. In the longer term, they need to make investments to reduce economic vulnerability and inequality.
The Ranks of Hungry People on the Rise
(SOFI 2019 launch at IFPRI)
Using detailed methodologies, The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2019 makes official data from governments public and explains what they signify. It offers analysis of the drivers of hunger and malnutrition with a special focus on the impact of economic slowdowns and downturns.
The Political Economy of Food Systems
(EAT Forum 2019)
The current food system is not sustainable. In order to implement best practices from pioneering countries like New Zealand, we need to first build a common understanding of what “food systems” are and align incentives with evidence. David Nabarro moderates the discussion and Vicky Robertson joins in. See Torero’s EAT bio.
Digital Agriculture Transformation: Challenges
Ours is a world of agriculture, one that comprises smallholder farmers, 40% of whom are women. For digital technology to benefit smallholder farmers worldwide, we need to ensure that it is affordable and adaptable for the poor, and that users have capability to take advantage of it. We need efficient regulatory mechanisms to make sure the digital divide doesn’t grow deeper.
Food Systems, Smallholder Farmers and Climate Change
(Future of Food Talks)
Today we need to feed more people, generate more employment and be sustainable. If we understand these relationships, we can prioritize our investments.
The Impact of Food Loss and Waste
(Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2019)
The impact of food loss and waste on the availability of increasingly scarce resources and how it can be tackled.
Robotics and AI for Food Security and Innovation
(Robotics, AI and Humanity Workshop at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences)
In order to sustainably feed nearly 10 billion by 2050, the world must achieve a great balancing act, including closing the food gap and supporting economic development while reducing environmental impact. Technological innovations have significant potential to achieve this balance and improve food security.
How to Achieve Gender Equality
(Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)
Women represent 50 percent of the world population, but only 38 percent of human capital in the world. If women made the same amount of income that men do, the world’s GDP would essentially double.
The Role of Information
(International Forum on Food Safety and Trade)
Information plays a critical role in improving food safety across value chain and bridging the digital gap. It is only with information that people will be able to change their behavior.
Disruptive Digital Innovations in Value Chains
(22nd ICABR Conference)
For digital technologies to help the world achieve a great balancing act — of closing the food gap, supporting economic development and reducing environmental impact — we need to ensure that they promote innovations, equality and inclusion.
Connectivity as Human Right
(Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Foundation for Worldwide Cooperation)
Three billion people around the world still do not have access to the Internet. Connectivity is paramount, but content and the capability of the users are also important. Children can play a significant role in bridging the information gap.
Connectivity, Content and Children
Children using mobile phones help their computer-illiterate parents overcome some of the most serious problems facing farmers in the developing world.
Global Hunger Index 2011 Launch
(World Food Prize/Borlaug International Symposium)
The index provides a multidimensional measure of global, regional, and national hunger. By bringing the results every year, it raises awareness and shows progress overtime. It also shows which countries are performing well and gives incentives to those that lag behind.