Arctic Call to Action on Food Security and Climate Change

Press release from the Government of Norway

Members of the UN Secretary General’s Advocacy Group for the Sustainable Development Goals, under the leadership of Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway and President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, urge all governments to step up their efforts to eradicate hunger and to maintain genetic diversity.

Frødeponi Svalbard
28 depositører fra alle kontinenter deponerte frø i Svalbard Globale frøhvelv, på en deponeringsdag arrangert av statsminister og leder for FNs pådrivergruppe for bærekaftsmålene, Erna Solberg. Credit: Ragnhild Utne

Members of the UN group of Advocates for the Sustainable Development Goals met today in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, Norway, to discuss food security and climate change.

‘To reach the sustainable development goals we have to eradicate hunger and combat climate change. Failing on these fronts is not an option’, said Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway.

Climate change is challenging the functions of the food systems. Transforming our food systems offers a pathway to improved resilience of ecosystems, reduced vulnerability of rural populations to climate impacts, and enhanced contributions to climate change mitigation. Genetic diversity is essential for ensuring sustainable agriculture. By making use of this diversity, we can develop crops that are more heat-, drought- and flood-resistant.

‘In the ever complex and interdependent world in which we live today, we need bold, ambitious and smart policies and programmes to help end poverty, eradicate hunger, combat climate change, and protect the planet. The SDGs present us with such an opportunity‘, said President Akufo-Addo of Ghana.

The UN Secretary General, Mr Antonio Guterres, has called for a decade of action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. With just 10 years to go, there is an urgent need for increased global effort to achieve the goals.

Specifically addressed at Svalbard was target 2.5 of SDG 2, which calls for the international community to maintain the genetic diversity of both crops and livestock by the end of 2020.

‘For decades, the number of hungry people has been declining, but since 2015 it has been on the rise again. Reversing this trend and ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030 is an immense challenge, but also a prerequisite for reaching the other Sustainable Development Goals. Maintaining the agricultural genetic diveristy will play a key role in these efforts’, said Prime Minister Solberg.

The genetic diversity of food is essential for food security, but to ensure the food supply for future populations in a warmer world, we also have to adapt agriculture to climate change.

Today’s meeting took place as representatives from gene banks gathered for a seed summit and a seed depositing event at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, the world’s largest backup facility for the genetic diversity of seeds.

At the conclusion of their discussions, the SDG Advocacy Group issued the following call to action (pdf).

Date of publication: 25 Feb 2020

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