Rwanda on Tuesday July 13, 2021 held a virtual High Level National Dialogue on Food Systems, with nearly 120 participants joining in the conversation where Cabinet ministers dealing with Food Systems, UN Agencies, key national leaders on the topic and panelists highlighted the need to transform Rwanda’s Food Systems to contribute towards achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda.
The dialogue, which took place under the theme of “Shaping Country Food Systems Pathways for the pre-UN Food Systems Summit 2021”, was jointly convened by the Government of Rwanda and the United Nations Resident Coordinator’s office in Rwanda under the leadership of Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources.
It was held as a culmination of several other dialogues held in the country on various topics in the transformation of food systems since Rwanda widely initiated National Food Systems Dialogues in March 2021, following approval by the Cabinet in February 2021 for Rwanda to embark on the dialogues ahead of the UN Food Systems Summit 2021 to be convened by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
At Tuesday’s High Level National Dialogue on Food Systems transformation, top officials from the Government of Rwanda, the United Nations’ office in Rwanda, and members of the private sector, academia, development partners and civil society in the country discussed about ensuring food security and nutrition for all, decent livelihoods and how to promote rural development, as well as keeping environmental safeguards while building food systems that are resilient to vulnerabilities, shocks, and stresses.
Panelists also spoke about crosscutting pillars toward Rwanda’s sustainable food systems, which are empowering youth and women and access to financing.
Among others, the panelists on the theme of food availability and nutrition for all included the Minister for Local Government, Hon. Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi, the Minister of Environment, Amb. Dr. Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, the Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Dr. Jean Chrysostome Ngabitsinze, FAO Country Representative, Dr. Gualbert Gbehounou, and Mr. François Nsengiyumva, who is the Chairperson of the Chamber of Agriculture at Rwanda’s Private Sector Federation.
Other panelists on crosscutting themes were Hon. Rosemary Mbabazi, Minister of Youth and Culture, Dr. Jeannette Bayisenge, Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, and Dr. Richard Ferguson, Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, Research and Extension at the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA).
Rwanda’s Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Dr. Gerardine Mukeshimana, and the UN Resident Coordinator in the country, Mr. Fodé Ndiaye, jointly opened the dialogue and highlighted the need to keep the conversation going on how to best transform food systems both across the country, the continent, and the world.
Mr. Ndiaye lauded the partnership of the Government of Rwanda with other stakeholders in the move to build inclusive, resilient, efficient, and sustainable food systems.
“Rwanda is globally seen as a good example of the Food Systems Summit process. Of course, it has been grounded on excellent leadership, ongoing policies and strategies, institutions building and home-grown solutions. Kudos to all of us. This is only the beginning to make our dialogue a continuous forum to find innovative, comprehensive and sustainable solutions, to get food systems functioning well for everybody, everywhere, leaving no one behind,” he said at the meeting.
In both opening and closing the High Level Food Systems National Dialogue, Minister Mukeshimana thanked the entire UN and other stakeholders for supporting Rwanda as the country gets its voice heard in the on-going global conversation to transform food systems worldwide.
Rwanda has been participating, like other countries globally, in the preparation for the UN Food Systems Summit 2021, which is led by the United Nations Secretary-General. Most importantly, the country’s leadership has engaged different in-country stakeholders’ dialogues in the process to shape a commitment to action for the Summit objectives.
The UN Food Systems pre-summit is confirmed to be hosted by Italy in Rome from 26-28 July 2021 and the full summit is confirmed to be in conjunction with the UN General Assembly in New York in October 2021.
The Cabinet meeting of 19th February 2021 approved the participation of Rwanda in the UN Food Systems Summit 2021.
Apart from the Government of Rwanda’s support, the process towards the UN Food Systems Summit 2021 has been supported by the UN Resident Coordinator and Representatives of UN agencies, AUDA-NEPAD, Systems and Synergies for Sustainable Development (4SD) and UN Special Envoy for Food Systems Summit 2021.