• 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
• 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
• Sustainability is already prominently reflected in the European
Common Agricultural Policy. It guarantees a decent livelihood
for farmers without distorting markets and trade.
• 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
• 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
[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
• 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
• 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.