Ladies and gentlemen, the goal of eradicating global hunger has never been higher on the international policy agenda, and it has never been more achievable – with the right political will.

 

There is no country or region of the planet that has not known mass hunger and the crushing effect it has on human wellbeing and society.

 

Today we have all the policy tools at our disposal to eradicate global hunger, and developing sustainable food security is at the heart of this mission.

 

There is one Sustainable Development Goal that stands out for the agri-food sector: to end hunger by 2030.

 

This is a very ambitious target, but it can be achieved.

 

Under the Millennium development goals we have reduced hunger by half up to 2015, and this happened over a period when the population grew by one billion. 

 

So, zero hunger is doable.

 

We know the world possesses enough available land, water, and people to farm;

 

We have the technology and know-how;

 

We already produce enough to feed the world; and

 

We still have a huge margin for improvement in relation to food waste, where 30% is lost between farm and fork.

 

So, we can see that all the pieces of the puzzle are in place.

 

Unfortunately, zero hunger seems to be a moving target:

 

After a steady decline in recent years, the numbers of undernourished people went up in 2016.

 

The United Nation's world food security report published a couple of weeks ago is sobering: it shows that last year, 815 million people faced serious hunger - 38 million people more than in 2015.

 

These people often pay the terrible price of conflict, violence and political instability, in countries that already face high food insecurity, mostly in Africa and the Middle East.

 

They also pay the price of economic slowdown and suffer the effects of extreme weather events caused by climate change.  

 

So, in reality, our challenge is a political one: to make zero hunger a reality we need coherent global action. 

 

We need to focus on developing more productive, more sustainable food systems;

 

We need to uphold the central role of agriculture in addressing SDG2 (zero hunger) and SDG1 (fighting poverty).

 

All these aspects are at the core of the G7 agriculture ministerial starting tomorrow

 

It is our responsibility as G7 members to remain at the forefront of implementing Agenda 2030 and the Paris Climate Agreement.

 

The EU stands ready to lead from the front, and our Common Agricultural Policy has a key role to play.

 

A recent public consultation on modernising and simplifying our agricultural policy confirmed the commitment of our stakeholders to sustainability and the need to evolve towards a smarter, greener and more modern food and farming policy.

Our global commitments require a smarter and more resilient agricultural sector:

 

We need to boost agricultural research and innovation, as well as guarantee a fair income for farmers. 

 

Only with a resilient and smart agricultural sector will the EU be able to contribute to global food security through improved nutrition and sustainable agriculture.

 

You may be aware that we are also looking into the functioning of the food supply chain in the EU.

 

The farmer's share of what consumers spend on food is being continuously squeezed. And without farmers, there is no food supply chain

 

If farmers don't get a fair price for their work – if they can't make a decent living – then we have a problem.

 

That's why we are examining policy options to improve our food supply chain, in particular the position of the farmer.

 

We also need to improve our efforts on environmental care and climate action:

 

As stated in SDG13, we need to strengthen resilience to climate-related hazards and natural disasters.

 

Climate action will be reinforced in the future EU agricultural policy, so we can help to deliver on the commitments of the COP21 Paris Agreement.

 

We will also do more on sustainably managed forests, to combat desertification, and halt biodiversity loss and land degradation.

 

Third, in the future, the CAP needs to do more to stimulate employment and growth in rural areas:

 

We need to better address the potential and aspirations of rural citizens and communities.

 

At the same time, we need to facilitate the access of a new generation to the agricultural sector.

 

The Communication on the Future CAP will be an important step towards the alignment of the CAP to the Sustainable Development Goals.

 

At the broader EU policy level, development aid and emergency assistance are still at the forefront of our efforts.

 

Food security and nutrition is at the centre of EU's support programmes in developing countries.

 

From 2014 until 2020, the EU budget - European citizens' money - has allocated more than EUR 8.5 billion for food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture in 62 partner countries, of which 36 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

 

We also continue to advocate for open, rules based and fair trade.

 

The EU remains, by far, the world largest importer of agricultural products from Least Developed Countries (LDCs) – with agri-food imports worth €3.4 billion in 2016.

 

Furthermore, over the past 25 years, the CAP has undergone far-reaching reforms which have increased its market orientation and minimised production and trade distorting effects.

 

We make sure that the impact of our policy on the growth of agricultural sectors in developing countries remains marginal, and wherever possible, beneficial.

 

But we are also witnessing an increasing focus on agricultural policy in international fora such as the G7.

 

Aid and trade have to be complemented by policies to promote responsible private sector investment in developing countries, especially in Africa. 

 

With our African Union partners we launched a policy dialogue with several layers:

 

We look at measures designed to alleviate poverty and social exclusion in rural areas;

The EU has a good knowledge of "dos and don'ts" with more than 50 years' experience in implementing a  Common agricultural policy, programmes and initiatives;

 

All these could be used to further develop employment opportunities in agriculture and rural areas, in an open dialogue with our partners.

 

We are considering pilot projects for training young farmers - with the involvement of European farmers' organisations – as well as EU-Africa Union exchange schemes.

 

We are also in the process of reaching out to EU farmers and agri-businesses to enter partnerships with African and developing country farmers' organisations, to provide support and the necessary investments. 

 

Investments must be responsible – and I would like to underline this aspect:

 

We need to encourage investments which avoid land grabbing, pay a decent return to farmers, and recognise their central role in the food value chain.

Dear colleagues, these issues are not just for the future: we are called to action now.

 

Boosting the agricultural economy; driving a new era of investment; ensuring a fair place for farmers in the food supply chain: only a real political commitment to tackle these issues will make a difference.

 

In so doing, we can play a decisive role in lifting millions of people out of poverty and hunger between now and 2030. Thank you.