Photo Credit: Neil Palmer/CIAT

Over 1,000 participants from more than 100 countries gathered in Berlin on May 28 and 29 for the 2018 Global Solutions Summit. The event, associated with the T20 (an engagement group of global think-tanks supporting the G20 process), brought together policymakers, private sector actors, and global thought leaders to discuss solutions to pressing global challenges like hunger and poverty, climate change, rapid globalization, economic and societal inequality and the erosion of democratic values.

The Global Solutions Summit devoted a large section of the discussions to the priorities identified by the Argentinian G20 Presidency for 2018 namely, fair and sustainable development. Official delegates of the T20 and G20 thus played a leading role in the summit, with 12 sessions dedicated to the topics covered by the T20 Task Forces.

In her keynote address, German Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasized the importance of multilateralism in solving global challenges. “Global issues can only be solved with a global approach,” she said. “Individual countries, no matter how big and strong, will not on their own be able to master the global challenges of our day.”

In the panel devoted to presenting T20 suggestions for Argentina’s priority of food security and sustainable development, IFPRI Director General Shenggen Fan highlighted the need to reshape the global agri-food system in order to sustainably address the world’s changing food security and nutrition challenges. His speech discussed the complexities of the changes needed in trade, technologies, policies, and institutions. Among his recommendations were strengthened trade facilitation, investment in innovative food production technologies, prioritization of policies to encourage nutritious and sustainable diets, and improved enabling environments to create inclusive food value chains.

Fan also emphasized the need for stakeholders to focus on solutions to the world’s challenges through knowledge exchange, capacity building, and multilateral partnerships.

In the same panel, Eugenio Diaz-Bonilla, head of IFPRI’s Latin America and the Caribbean program and co-chair of the T20 Task Force 3 on food security and sustainable agriculture, presented a summary of the policy briefs prepared by that task force. These briefs put forward different proposals about trade, investment, markets, and agricultural productivity and R&D to help rebuild the global food system in order to achieve the food security-related SDGs.

To build a “sustainable food future”, Diaz-Bonilla said, food systems will need to generate economic growth and employment, ensure social inclusiveness, promote climate resilience and efficient resource use, and take into account the triple burden of malnutrition (undernutrition, overnutrition, and micronutrient deficiency).

The evidence-based briefs provide a range of policy recommendations to meet these complex and ambitious goals.

For example, the authors of the brief on global food security and market stability recommended the creation of a group of large food/agricultural exporters and importers to exchange information regarding food production, consumption, and policies. They argue that this information-sharing could help to prevent shocks to global markets and could eventually evolve into a larger multilateral trade agreement under the auspices of the WTO.

In a brief co-authored by Diaz-Bonilla, the authors focused on innovative mechanisms to finance the large investments needed to scale up the use of climate-smart agricultural technologies, particularly by small and family farmers.

In the brief on agricultural productivity and R&D, the authors highlighted that in the context of changing climate, the global community needs to have the proper tools to monitor sustainable agricultural productivity gains, identify countries and sectors lagging behind, and commit R&D efforts accordingly to the challenges ahead.

Another brief discusses investment in sustainable and healthy food systems. Food systems in developing and developed countries are undergoing rapid changes, which present both new opportunities and new challenges to sustainability and nutrition. The brief’s authors emphasize the need for adequate investments by both the private and the public sector to drive dynamic food system development and promote the inclusive and sustainable systems needed to allow the global food system to contribute to the delivery of the SDGs.

Other briefs focused on reducing waste and losses, improving the knowledge base to achieve sustainable and resilient agricultural production, and improving the competition in fertilizer markets at the global and national levels.

The briefs and their overall policy recommendations will be presented to the leaders of the T20 at the T20 Summit in September and will be used to draft the T20’s official recommendations to the G20 Ministerial meeting in November.

By: Sara Gustafson

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