On Thursday 14 October 2021, 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 H.E. Andrea Matteo Fontana, EU Ambassador to the UAE and Commissioner-General to Expo 2020 Dubai, H.E. 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, H.E. 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.”