• Minister Han, Ministers,

 

• I'm very pleased to be here with you today – we have an

excellent opportunity before us. I commend the Chinese G20

Presidency for giving such strong emphasis to agriculture and

its vital importance to our economy and society.

 

• Indeed, this emphasis was already apparent to me when I

visited China earlier this year with a trade delegation of

European agri-businesses. Building stronger and deeper links

between agri-economies is vital to expand jobs and growth in

this dynamic sector.

 

• The European Union believes in the importance of a strong

agricultural policy. We have reformed our Common Agricultural

Policy to be in tune with international markets, to be

ambitious and supportive of young innovating farmers, and

more focused on sustainable growth.

 

• We are happy to see that G20, under the Chinese Presidency,

also gives a central role to sustainable agricultural

development, and to innovation.

 

• It is clear that agriculture policy is growing in importance at

the global level. And it’s recognised that smart regulation and

well-functioning markets will create growth and jobs,

particularly in rural areas.

 

• Government’s role is to promote a stable, socially responsible

business environment for the development of food systems.

The best way to do so is through robust ongoing policy dialogue

this is where the G20 is adding real value at international

level.

 

• So, I particularly welcome the decision to hold regular

meetings of G20 Agriculture Ministers to maintain policy

coordination and give direction on how to address the major

challenges of our time.

 

[EU integrates SDGs into agricultural policy]

 

• The two big theme of this G20 Presidency are sustainability

and innovation. G20 Agriculture Ministers are assuming a

clear leadership role to achieve the agriculture-related

Sustainable Development Goals.

 

• If the world is to meet the Agenda 2030 challenge of Zero

Hunger and ending extreme poverty, we have to find new ways

to encourage responsible investments in agriculture and rural

areas.

 

Sustainability is already prominently reflected in the European

Common Agricultural Policy. It guarantees a decent livelihood

for farmers without distorting markets and trade.

[Climate action]

 

• Because today, farmers are also expected to play a role in

combating climate change and managing precious resources

like soil and water. Climate action is the priority of SDG 13,

while "life on land" – in other words how we manage forests,

tackle land degradation, and stop biodiversity loss – is the

focus of SDG 15.

 

• And SDG 12 emphasises the sustainable use of resources and

climate action through responsible consumption and

production.

 

• The COP21 Paris Agreement also sets out a global action plan

to limit global warming below 2°C, through emissions

reduction and carbon sequestration.

 

• I welcome the G20’s strong support for the COP21 Agreement,

in particular suggestions for enhanced cooperation on soil

and water research. We should all encourage these joint

efforts and improve cooperation at all levels.

 

Agriculture and forestry are central role to this process.

Ensuring adequate production of food for a growing population

is a crucial challenge. It should be achieved in harmony with

our climate objectives, and trade-offs are to be avoided.

 

• In the EU, greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture have

declined by 24 percent since 1990, while maintaining and

even expanding production. And we aim to improve our

performance even further.

 

Climate action has become a priority under the European

Common Agricultural Policy with a substantial amount of its

budget dedicated to this goal.

 

• In 2015, 16,3 billion Euro were spent to support a wide range

of measures to reduce emissions, improve carbon

sequestration, reduce energy consumption, and improve

fertiliser efficiency – to name just a few.

 

So I applaud the G20’s backing of the Paris Climate Change

Agreement. And I applaud the G20’s strong support for the

WHO Action Plan on Anti-Microbial Resistance - this is a big

step forward.

 

[Innovation & ICT]

 

• But public investment can only do so much. The private

sector, with its immense capacity for investment in

innovation and research, must be mobilised in new and

smarter ways. Food security, sustainable development and

climate action require new investments.

 

• The private sector can drive new production techniques,

training and advice for farmers, as well as specific support for

testing new and innovative approaches for a better and more

efficient agriculture.

 

The G20 can lead from the front in this policy area, and I

warmly welcome the Chinese Presidency's strong

commitment to innovation, research and the use of ICT.

 

• There is a new wave of ICT innovation in and for agriculture,

incorporating the Internet of Things, Cloud Computing, and

Big Data.

 

• The Internet of Things is the next step of disruptive digital

innovation. And for this reason we are investing in Internet of

Things for the agricultural sector.

 

• In 2016 and 2017 alone, the EU's Research and Innovation

Programme Horizon 2020 is supporting Large Scale Pilots with

a budget of up to 30 million EUR, targeting Internet of Things

scenarios in Smart Agriculture.

 

• Precision farming technologies have the potential to help meet

increasing global demand for food while ensuring the

sustainability of primary production, based on a more precise

and resource efficient approach to production management.

 

Ministers, if we incorporate these changes, in terms of

policy and investment, we can make the G20 a real driver of

positive change. I look forward to working with you all in the

coming months and years. Thank you.