Chapter 3

Overview of the Pre-Summit


As Delivered, 2 August 2021



Distinguished delegates,

Thank you for joining this de-brief.

Last Wednesday in Rome, we wrapped up a highly successful Pre-Summit for the Food Systems Summit that the Secretary-General will convene this September.

As we seek to build on this momentum towards the September Summit, I wanted to brief you at the earliest possible opportunity. Apologies for those who thought this was last minute, this is just a de-brief.

I wanted to particularly thank the Italian Government and the Rome-based Agencies for all the support they provided to make this Pre-Summit possible andas successful, particularly in this COVID-19 era.


I arrived in Rome asking what is different about the Food Systems Summit, as many did. In the course of the three days, we certainly saw what was different.

Preparations for the summit have unfolded during a pandemic that has stolen lives and livelihoods and has reversed the progress on the SDGs.

And yet, even as the pandemic has physically pushed us apart, the pre-summit process has brought people together.

The Food Systems Summit will be a summit for everyone, everywhere – a people’s summit, with solutions.

It will include those at the center of our food systems: our smallholder farmers, some of whom I met while I was in Italy, indigenous peoples and especially our women and young people, with such strong voices that we continued to hear through the three days.

It will also means working with partners in the private sector to ensure that innovations reach the most marginalized, and that all jobs in the food sector offer decent livelihoods to workers and their families.

We must co-create the future of food with our youth leaders, as we heard, building a vision of a more dynamic food future.


The outcomes of the Pre-Summit have shown me that we can deliver on the right to food, while securing the future of our planet.

Just as food brings us together as cultures and communities, it can also bring us together around the solutions. Those solutions are clearly tailor made.

This Summit process is a reason for hope during this COVID-19 crisis. It is effective multilateralism in action.

It has highlighted thattransformative investments in food systems can drive our recovery from the pandemic and get us back on track to the achieve the SDGs in the 9 years to come.

The process is reinforcing our understanding that there cannot be separate conversations about food systems, climate, health and nutrition, energy, oceans and biodiversity.

It’s also made clear that governments alone cannot deliver this agenda. Taking ambitious and accelerated action at scale means we must work with all partners. In particular, the new ones that have emerged.

An emerging mantra in Rome was “there is no going back”. We cannot retreat back to our silos, and we must embrace the era of a better recovery from COVID-19.


Leading into the Pre-Summit, over a thousand Dialogues on food systems have taken place globally, in all regions. 145 countries are leading national dialogues. More are coming on board. Over 50,000 people, from local communities and all constituencies, have been engaged.So it really has been an inclusive process.

These Dialogues are already generating tangible outcomes in the form of national pathways. Today, we already have 13 national pathways and several more are imminent. They all build on existing government efforts, while responding to our current realities and the urgency of trying to get the 2030 Agenda done in the next 9 years.

Given the inter-sectoral nature of food systems, dialogues have worked across sectors, ministries, and constituencies. It was encouraging to see several countries represented in the Pre-Summit with more than one Minister and more than one part of their food system.

Dialogues have also clearly shown that solutions and actions must be tailored to local and regional realities.
Through the Action Tracks, the Levers of Change, Scientific Group and Constituency Groups, the Summit process has engaged thousands of different actors to get all the best ideas on the table and bring all the pieces together. I must say many of these ideas that I heard were not new, but that they have a different response given the different players coming up to take these ideas and solutions they were bringing in their own different context to actualize them.

But what is clear is there is no one-size fits all solution.
Our diversity, as I continue to say, is our strength and reflects the complexity of our world.
In Rome, the Pre-Summitput all the ingredients on the table and created something meaningful and quite powerful.

Here is what I hope we can expect to focus on as we move forward to the Summit here in New York in September and beyond.

First, the Secretary-General will deliver a Statement of Action that will urge everyone to continue with the ambition to 2030 through food systems lens.

The Summit in New York, during the High-level Week of the General Assembly, will be a moment to hear from as many Heads of State and Government, regional groups and leaders as possible on their commitments to take this agenda forward throughout the decade.The dates for this meeting haven’t yet been set, but there is a proposal for the first week.

Second, a compendium will document the full diverse inputs received throughout the process. This compendiumwill serve as a reference point for continued learning and drawing from all the solutions that have been brought together. We’ve had an incredibly rich sharing opportunity and that was profiled in Rome and we hope to see that move forward in a much more structured document that brings everything together in one place. I hope that we will see the online tools available.

Third, the work of the Action Tracks, the Levers of change, Scientific Group will transition into the follow-up and review of the Food Systems Summit at both the global and the country-level. I want to emphasize here that the country-level is incredibly important and will be seen differently. The process started there needs to end there, where the real action and investments will be needed over the coming months and years.

This will be supported by the Rome-based agencies at the global level and the Resident Coordinators and UN Country-teams at the country-level, where we would expect the Rome-based agencies representation to also support.

Fourth, in organizing the work at global and country-level we are building on outcomes and priorities of the summit process. In Rome the following Coalition themes began to emerge:

  • Action for Nutrition and Zero Hunger
  • School Meals
  • Food Loss and Waste
  • Agroecology and Sustainable Livestock and Agriculture Systems
  • Aquatic and Blue Foods
  • Living incomes and Decent Work
  • Resilience
  • Means of implementation – finance, innovation and technology, data, governance

These are not conclusive. They will be refined over the next few weeks as we go to the Summit under the direction of the Special Envoy, the Rome-based agencies and the Advisory Committee.

I think it is important to be clear at this point: We don’t need new structures. What we do need is for existing structures to be responsive to the needs and the ambitions that have been laid out by governments and key stakeholders around the world.

The Rome-based Agencies, FAO, IFAD, WFP with the support of the UN-system, are well placed to build on their leadership and continue to act as champions for this effort.

The Committee on World Food Security, the CFS, remains an essential platform for inclusive international and intergovernmental for all stakeholders to work together to ensure food security and nutrition for all. It will be important to continue to think through how the CFS can grow even more responsive to the needs of everyone.

The success of the process so far has been driven by cross-sectoral and multi-stakeholder collaboration. Maintaining this method of working implies a need to ensure strong system-wide collaboration, especially at the country-level.

The Food Systems Summit Advisory Committee will meet next week and prior to the Summit in September, to provide direction and offer feedback on thefour areas of deliverables that I have mentioned just now.

We must use the next two months to further define the global and country-level follow-up. This will be worked out by the Special Envoy Agnes Kalibata, together with the Rome-based Agencies and the Food Systems Summit Advisory Committee.
We have come so far together and so we really must get over the final line and come back to Rome together.


We only have 9 years left to achieve the SDGs. This means the energy created by the Summit cannot be allowed to dissipate. It must be consolidated andused as fuel for further progress.Might I say, for the other SDGs and the other really important negotiations that are going on towards COP26.

After the Summit in September, we will move forward to support implementation at the country level,as we begin to scale up our efforts to recover from COVID-19.


The Pre-Summit has defined the scope of our ambition for the Food Systems Summit this September.

It reflects a renewed and bold focus on the delivery of the 2030 Agenda for people, planet and prosperity.

The Pre-Summit really did demonstrate that a robust, comprehensive response to COVID-19 is possible. Together, we have to ensure the recovery itself puts us back on track to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

The Secretary-General is fully committed to the successful outcome of the Food Systems Summit in New York and its follow-up.

Let me again end by thanking our member states who really have remained engaged at the highest levels, particularly as you bought your ministers to Rome. To thank the Rome-based agencies and of course to thank Agnes Kalibata and her team who have been absolutely marvelous at trying to make sure we achieve what we set out to do in Rome, which is to bake a really solid cake before we come here to ice it in New York.

Thank you.