The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), in cooperation with the Ministry of International Cooperation, organised the first edition of World Food Security Conference, on Wednesday, as part of global efforts to confront climate change and its impact on food security in the world. The conference comes within Egypt’s preparations for hosting the UN Conference of the Parties on climate change (COP27) in November.
In her opening speech during the conference, Rania Al-Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation, stressed the importance of holding the first food security conference, which is organized by the Ministry of International Cooperation, in cooperation with the WFP, at this vital time, when food security faces major challenges worldwide.
She pointed out that the relationship that brings together the WFP and the Egyptian government has resulted in many programmes and partnerships over the past years, with the aim of enhancing efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals, especially with regard to food security.
The Minister thanked the WFP’s work team for the efforts made in preparing the joint country programme between the government and the World Food Programme for the period from 2023-2027, which establishes a new phase of cooperation and joint efforts to support food security efforts in Egypt and the expansion of development projects.
She also praised the development projects implemented by the government and the World Food Programme in various governorates of Egypt, especially efforts to enhance school feeding, support small farmers in Upper Egypt villages, achieve rural and agricultural development, expand the use of renewable energy sources with small farmers, and enhance cooperation between the countries of the South through the Luxor Innovation Center, pointing out that the next stage will witness more cooperation within the framework of Egypt’s preparations for COP27, and the expansion of food and water security efforts.
Al-Mashat indicated that the challenges facing food security are increasing dramatically due to the successive developments at the global level and the repercussions caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, and the continuing impact of climate change and its impact on supply chains, referring to the United Nations report on the status of food security and nutrition in the world, which indicated that about one billion people face severe undernourishment and food insecurity during 2021.
The Minister further explained that despite these challenges, the Egyptian government is making great efforts to enhance food security and meet the needs of citizens. “In this context, the Ministry of International Cooperation, in cooperation with all development partners, is strengthening these efforts, and recently it was announced obtaining development financing from the World Bank and the African Development Bank to support the country’s efforts in achieving food security, increasing storage capacities for wheat and grains, and enhancing the resilience of the Egyptian economy and facing crises,” she said.
Al-Mashat continued: “We are continuing to build on the development results achieved with the United Nations, and the long-term partnership with the World Food Programme, as we work within the framework of Vision 2030 to expand social protection programmes, expand school feeding, and enhance resilience.”
She referred to the extensive consultation process that was held with the UN in Egypt with the aim of formulating the Strategic Framework for Cooperation for Sustainable Development 2023-2027 (UNSDCF), which promotes the implementation of the sustainable development goals, and includes many axes, including the sustainable management of natural resources and the promotion of food security efforts, the ability to adapt to climate change, focusing on priorities related to water security, food security and energy security.
In her speech, Al-Mashat touched on the national platform for green projects, the “Noufy” programme, which was launched under the umbrella of the National Climate Change Strategy 2050, and includes a number of adaptation projects and mitigating the impacts of climate change in the areas of water, food and energy, in light of the paramount importance and the close interdependence between these three sectors.
She also pointed out that the programme aims, through cooperation with development partners and the private sector, to provide development finance, technical support, grants and innovative financing mechanisms that stimulate the private sector to pump investments.
Saad Nassar, the Advisor to the Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation, stressed the importance of climate projects for the agricultural sector in Egypt in light of the population increase and limited water resources, and the increase in its contribution to the gross domestic product.
Nassar said that the Egyptian agricultural sector showed its capabilities during the Coronavirus crisis and climate changes, especially after the deterioration of the situation in Ukraine, which was reflected in the conditions of fertilizer and fodder production, stressing that Egypt did not face any adverse conditions in order to provide its food needs, but rather succeeded in achieving self-sufficiency for about 9 agricultural commodities.
The advisor to the Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation pointed to the national projects that Egypt is carrying out in order to achieve self-sufficiency in the production of wheat and some main grains, through land reclamation in Toshka, Sinai and other parts of the republic, in addition to modernizing irrigation methods to conserve water and increase production, and waste water recycling and use. in agriculture, as well as the exploitation of groundwater.
He also stressed that Egypt has a clear strategy to develop the agricultural sector through land reclamation, increasing job opportunities, supporting food industries, improving incomes of citizens in rural areas, and reducing the impact of climate change on the agricultural sector.
Moreover, Manoj Juneja, the Deputy Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer of the WFP, expressed the WFP’s keenness to support its cooperation with the Egyptian government to provide sustainable development goals, noting that the programme is always working to support communities’ readiness to face challenges, implement food projects and exchange experiences in that regard.
He added: “Eliminating hunger is one of our priorities, as climate change greatly affects crops and limits the ability to access markets, and leads to increased migration rates, in addition to increasing prices with less production. The latest statistics indicate that there is a 21% decrease in production. There is a global crisis in the availability of fertilizers, and the conflict in Ukraine has put pressure on energy and food security and supply chains.”
Juneja said that food supply systems have been affected by carbon emissions, which indicates the importance of moving to eliminate the causes of hunger, modernize irrigation systems, and support and increase the agricultural area.
He further praised the presidential initiative “Decent Life” for the development of the Egyptian countryside, and said that it is a long-term initiative that supports all sustainable development goals, extends to all geographical areas, raises the efficiency of agricultural production, and improves farmers’ incomes and their standard of living.
Juneja also pointed out that the WFP supports innovations that address hunger problems, through digital solutions that help accelerate aid access to beneficiaries and create fruitful cooperation between governments, investors, and banks to find solutions and projects until 2050.
Also, Praveen Agrawal, the Representative and Country Director Egypt of the World Food Programme, said that it is necessary to find solutions to malnutrition and eradicate hunger around the world, which he stressed is facing unprecedented problems.
Agrawal added that the world is facing very big problems that call for searching for the root causes and addressing them, before the crisis worsen, adding that we need to make realistic changes in poor villages and ensure efficient water delivery to them, improve the conditions of women and children, and work to eradicate hunger and malnutrition.