CGIAR hosts Bill Gates and UN Food Agencies in Rome to further collaboration on Global Goals
Bill Gates, Co-chair and Board Member of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, joined a meeting of the world’s leading agricultural organizations in Rome last week to discuss the importance of coordination and cooperation in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal on Hunger (SDG2).
Hosted by CGIAR’s Executive Managing Director, Ismahane Elouafi, along with the Director General of the Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT, Juan Lucas Restrepo, guests included Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); Alvaro Lario, President of the International Fund of Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Cindy McCain, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP). Moderating the session was Marcel Beukeboom, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations Organisations.
Mr. Gates expressed optimism on tackling the challenges of food and climate insecurity saying that, with innovations aimed at those in need, the potential is “greater than ever.” He emphasized a need to focus on the crops and needs of those living in the greatest poverty, “particularly where helping out farmers is thought to be the highest priority to minimize the effects of climate change.”
Dr. Elouafi said, “When humanity has faced its greatest challenges in the past — whether from famine or pandemic — collaboration and innovation provided solutions. Today’s challenges are so large and complex that no one organization or discipline can solve them alone. But I sincerely believe that the four multilateral organizations represented here today can — with the support of partners such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and governments of those represented around the table — go a long way towards solving the big challenges of our era: hunger, malnutrition, climate change.”
CGIAR works closely with the so-called Rome-based agencies of the UN that focus on global hunger, food, and agriculture. As well as partnering on many Initiatives in CGIAR’s portfolio, IFAD and the FAO, together with CGIAR and Rockefeller Foundation, hosted a Food and Agriculture Pavilion at the recent COP28 climate change conference in Dubai. CGIAR also has a long-standing partnership with the World Food Programme (WFP) to build resilience in zones affected by crises in parallel to the provision of humanitarian assistance.
The meeting took place at the offices of the Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT, the CGIAR center based in Rome and Cali. It included a vegetarian “Feast of Innovation” created by Michelin-starred chef Cristina Bowerman and showcasing some of the CGIAR innovations that are saving lives and improving livelihoods around the world.
Ms. Bowerman said, “I am honored to have been able to use ingredients that offer hope to save the world, overcoming obstacle after obstacle in combating the frightening percentage of the world’s population still afflicted by hunger today.”
Ingredients on the menu included low glycemic index rice developed by CGIAR scientists from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). Potatoes developed by CGIAR’s International Potato Center (CIP) to withstand hotter, drier climates, and offer improved access to nutrients were also incorporated into the menu.
Through these and many other innovations, CGIAR and its partners are committed to accelerating agricultural innovation. This work to address the concurrent climate and food crises has received substantial support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who were among donors at COP28 in Dubai, committing USD890 Million to support CGIAR’s work to accelerate agricultural innovation.
Header image: Woman working in a cabbage farm in Bochesa around Ziway in Ethiopia. Photo by: M. Haileselassie/IWMI