MIL-OSI Translation: Speech by Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture Cem Özdemir at the opening of the G7 Conference of Agriculture Ministers


MIL OSI translation. Region: Germany/Germany –

Source: Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture Published on May 14, 2022 in the format of press release no. 58/2022

“We will only prevent a collapse of the world food system if we act together.”

Check against delivery! Salutation, the G7 agriculture ministers are meeting today for the first time since 2017. And for a good reason. I invited you here to my home country because the food systems and especially the farmers worldwide are facing enormous challenges. We therefore urgently need to work even more closely together. A look at the current situation in the Horn of Africa makes this abundantly clear: According to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), the current drought in parts of Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya is the driest in over 40 years. Millions of farm animals have died there within a few months. Grain production has also collapsed drastically – in some cases by up to 70 percent. The result: More than 28 million people are acutely threatened by famine and since the beginning of the year 450,000 people have fled from Somalia alone. This once again makes it dramatically clear that we are in the middle of the climate crisis. A crisis to which our agriculture contributes, but which also affects our farmers themselves. The climate crisis, but also the loss of biodiversity and the COVID-19 pandemic, posed a major threat to global food security even before Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, which violated international law. But the war is now significantly aggravating the global food situation and is once again showing the impact , that conflicts have on global food and nutrition security. But first and foremost, the Russian war of aggression is causing untold suffering for the people of Ukraine. That is why I am glad that we can welcome you, dear colleague Solskyij, in our midst today. I would like to express my solidarity and condolences to you, your country and the people of Ukraine. We stand by your side! Today we will again discuss how we can support your country and your agricultural sector. We already had an initial intensive exchange with your predecessor at the virtual G7 meeting on March 11. It is of inestimable value for me to receive information from you today – i.e. first-hand – about the situation in agriculture in your country. Germany stands by Ukraine and will continue and intensify its aid measures. So far we have been able to arrange aid deliveries for the food supply of the Ukrainian armed forces and the provision of seeds for spring sowing. We have initiated a coordination office that forwards food donations from German industry to the Ukrainian partners in a targeted manner. A small contribution in view of the immeasurably great suffering that President Putin has brought upon your citizens. And given the overwhelming courage with which you, the Ukrainians, are defending yourself against the aggressor. Further support measures in the technical area as well as aid deliveries are being examined. And the European Union is also active. Germany supports the European Commission’s move to suspend all tariffs on imports from Ukraine into the EU. However, logistical support when export activities are resumed is also important. Because millions of tons of grain cannot leave Ukraine because Russia is blocking the ports and the Black Sea. The European Commission therefore published an action plan yesterday. It envisages various measures to export 20 million tons of grain overland from Ukraine in the next three months. We need grain on the world market, and Ukraine needs silos for the coming harvest. And I am pleased that our Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and her G7 colleagues want to support the export efforts. Never before have we in the G7 countries been so unanimous across all departments: the war against Ukraine also has serious consequences for the Global food security: The European granary is in grave danger. Wheat exports from Ukraine are made considerably more difficult or prevented. Prices, especially for wheat, corn and oilseeds are rising. As are the costs of animal feed, energy and fertilizers. These consequences are hitting hardest Countries that depend on food imports. It is often countries of the Global South that are already suffering enormously from the consequences of the climate crisis – as is currently the case in the Horn of Africa. Against this background, Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, has warned of a “hurricane of hunger” and a collapse of the world food system. I am convinced that we will only prevent such a collapse if we act together. If we ensure that food gets to where it is needed. If we ensure that production is sustainable – in Ukraine, here and above all where the food is needed. We, the agriculture ministers of the G7 countries, send in our clear statements on the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine sign to the world community. Together we want to implement the right to sufficient and balanced food globally – because it is a fundamental human right. We have to react at short notice in order to meet the challenges. That’s why I convened a virtual special meeting of the G7 agriculture ministers in March. We agreed on concrete measures that we want to supplement and deepen today. That is why it is good and important that you, dear colleague Solskyj, also take part in our meeting, the representatives of the FAO and the OECD. Salutation, in overcoming the current crisis, we must continue to tackle the existing crises with determination. In particular, the climate crisis and the loss of biodiversity require our commitment. We are therefore faced with the task of making the food systems more sustainable in a comprehensive transformation process. The goals of sustainable development, as agreed in the 2030 Agenda and emphasized again at the UN Food Systems Summit, are our fixed points here. Important aspects for Germany are: the reduced and more targeted use of pesticides and fertilizers, the expansion of organic farming, but also the reduction of food waste and post-harvest losses. In this context, I will also address the so-called “silent pandemic”. What is meant by this is the increasing spread of antibiotic resistance. We have to take countermeasures here. In the future, the Codex Alimentarius will set a framework for the responsible use of antibiotics. It provides for cross-sectoral monitoring and surveillance systems for the use of antibiotics and the emergence of resistances – nationally and internationally. In Germany we are already planning the first steps towards implementation. The consistent application of the One Health approach is always important for Germany. I am therefore very pleased that coordinated action by the WHO, FAO, OiE and UNEP has now been agreed internationally.Salutation,We can only successfully master the long-term transformation of our food systems if we protect the interests of all those who Produce food, take into account. We must therefore design this transformation process in such a way that it is both environmentally friendly and economically viable for farmers. We are convinced that the transformation of food systems worldwide can only succeed with the involvement of multi-stakeholder forums. That is why Germany is expressly committed to strengthening the World Food and Agriculture Committee (CFS). It is important to also take into account the outstanding role of smallholder structures and women in agriculture and to counteract any form of discrimination. Salutation, these current challenges set the pace for our meeting. So today we will focus exclusively on the effects of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. A functioning world trade is the basis for stable world market prices. Transparency on the world markets is of great importance. We are also encouraged by the reports that the current crisis is being used by investors for speculation. In order to prevent such excesses, we need information and transparency. The G20 Agricultural Market Information System – AMIS – is doing an excellent job here. Germany supports AMIS financially and I am pleased that there is agreement on the part of the G7 to support the promotion of AMIS. I am very concerned that input prices, especially for fertilizers, are currently rising sharply in agriculture. Therefore, we were happy to take up Canada’s suggestion to expand the work of AMIS to monitor input markets. Germany would double its contributions to AMIS for this purpose. I am glad that we agree on this. And I hope that our G20 colleagues will take up this suggestion and, under the Indonesian presidency, decide to expand AMIS activities to include input markets.Anrede,The urgently needed transformation of our food systems will be on the agenda tomorrow. We have broken this topic down into two specific fields of action. First, on promoting sustainable agricultural supply chains. Secondly, promoting carbon storage in the agricultural sector. By promoting sustainable agricultural supply chains, we are holding companies accountable. They should do more to fulfill their due diligence obligations along the supply chain. This applies to the protection of forests, because sustainable supply chains do not require deforestation. This applies above all to possible human rights violations, such as child labour. Here it is important that we reach an exchange about the different regulations in our countries. We will therefore commission a study from the OECD that will provide an overview of the regulations in our G7 countries. With this we want to create a basis for better coherence of regulations in our countries and thus contribute to more sustainable supply chains.Salutation,Carbon storage in agriculture offers many advantages. Benefits for climate protection, biodiversity and soil health. Also for agriculture, which can open up sources of income by offsetting greenhouse gas emissions. But we also clearly see risks here. Above all, it is important that the long-term storage of carbon is successful – only then is there a sustainable contribution to CO2 reduction. That is why common minimum criteria and coordinated certification procedures are important. We will therefore accelerate the scientific discussion on this topic and start this process with an international scientific workshop.Address, against the background of the multitude of crises that challenge us together, I would like to expressly emphasize one thing: We cannot solve one crisis by we neglect or even exacerbate other crises. We are all aware that the climate crisis is not taking a break. A look at the Horn of Africa shows this. It is therefore important that we stick to the goals of sustainable development, especially in the face of these crises. Because the two major challenges: the current effects of the war on global food security and the long-term and necessary transformation of our food system – on the production and consumption side, can only together. Let us therefore use the two days ahead of us to develop sustainable solutions together. Solutions that ensure global food security and create a sustainable economic basis for our farmers. Thank you all for coming to Stuttgart!Released on May 14, 2022 in press release format

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