Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Follow-up to the UN Food Systems Summit

16 December 2021. Agnes Kalibata reflects on her time as UNFSS Special Envoy, the achievements of the UN Food Systems Summit, and the importance of leveraging the power of food systems to deliver progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

To inform the design of a Food Systems Coordination Hub (“the Hub”), the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General has led a consultation process that brought together leadership and staff from several agencies across the UN system. Over the past six weeks, this group has met with the objective to maintain the momentum, build on, and advance the deliverables that emerged through the two-year Summit process. 

Following these consultations, the Deputy Secretary-General, the Special Envoy, and the Principals of the Rome-based Agencies (RBAs), the Un Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Development Coordination Office (DCO) agreed on further steps. The Executive Office of the Secretary-General  issued an Information Note to inform Member States and key partners on how the UN System will engage in accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. 

Purpose of the Hub 

  • The Hub will align itself with existing UN functions and capacities in its work and existing structures and mechanisms. The Hub will focus on leveraging the broad range of assets of the UN system – particularly within the context of the repositioning of the UN development system at country level – and existing SDG reporting structures to demonstrate progress. 
  • The Hub will act as the catalyst inside the UN system in relation to food systems and the 2030 Agenda. Replacing the time-bound Food Systems Summit Secretariat, the Hub will take on essential coordination functions to bring together and link food systems knowledge and expertise from diverse constituencies, including through a Stakeholder Advisory Group, to support national progress on the SDGs in response to country priorities. This includes: 
    • continued support to food systems national dialogues and national pathways through the coordination of technical and policy support requested by countries as they formulate and implement national pathways for food systems transformation; 
    • staying connected with the broader ecosystem of actors for sustainable food systems, including Coalitions and other initiatives as well as the science ecosystem, and promote the better integration of these efforts with country demand; and, 
    • the elevation of priority topics in the food systems transformation agenda for strategic thought leadership of UN Agencies and leading actors in the ecosystem of support. 
  • The Hub will consist of a nimble team, largely comprised of secondments from UN system entities, that understands the broader landscape across the entire food system, makes connections and ensures a systems approach, and showcases success and lessons learned. Resident Coordinators and UN Country Teams will contribute to annual reporting and regular reporting to the Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Group (UNSDG) on support to national pathways. Drawing on this work at country, regional and global levels, the Secretary-General will submit an annual report – until 2030 – to the HLPF on progress in following up to this Summit. It will also continue to promote a strong narrative around transformative action in food systems to achieve the SDGs and prepare a global stock-take for Member States every two years through 2030 to drive continuous progress. 

Organization of the Hub 

  • The Hub will be hosted by FAO on behalf of the UN system. Oversight of the Hub will fall on a Steering Group comprised of the Principals of the RBAs, DCO, and UNEP as the initial Chair of an evolved UN Task Force. The Chair of the UN Task Force will rotate among interested UN agencies with strong connections to the work of the Hub. 
  • This oversight group will engage on the Hub’s work with the Executive Office of the Secretary General (EOSG) and the UNSDG. It will also routinely brief and share information on progress and lessons with Member States, the Informal Joint RBA Governing Board, Chairs of the RBA Governing Bodies, the Chair of the Committee on Food Security, and the High-Level Political Forum, through ECOSOC. 
  • The Hub will be supported by the leadership of the FAO Office of SDGs reporting within the Office of the FAO Director-General. The Director of FAO’s Office of SDGs, Mr. Stefanos Fotiou, will assume leadership of the Hub with his TORs to be amended to include additional responsibilities. The Office of SDGs Director will be supported by a Deputy, seconded by the EOSG, and the Hub will further benefit from secondments and resources from FAO, IFAD, WFP and other agencies across the UN system. 
  • IFAD will lead follow-up on behalf the UN system in the area of finance as a ‘means of implementation’ (MOI) to enable food systems transformation more broadly at national, regional, and global level. 

Transition Arrangements for the Hub 

  • Following the conclusion of the Special Envoy’s mandate in December 2021, the Hub Director Mr. Stefanos Fotiou will commence his role to lead the Hub to ensure it is operational as of early January 2022, and rolled out in a phased manner. 
  • In consultation with the Deputy Secretary-General, these arrangements will be reviewed within a year to ensure the Hub capacity is working effectively to bring the best of the UN system and wider ecosystem of actors to support country priorities in their pathways for food systems transformation.  

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