The United Nations in Uzbekistan and Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Agriculture jointly hosted national and sub-national dialogues as part of mobilizing countrywide support and response to the United Nations Food Systems Summit called by the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres.
With support from the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office (RCO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Ministry of Agriculture served as the national convenor in four key dialogues. The first dialogue on 26 May was held in Tashkent. The two subsequent sub-national dialogues were held in Nukus on 9 June and in Namangan on 17 June. The dialogues culminated in Tashkent on 29 June 2021.
While focusing on the five key global thematic areas of ensuring access to safe and nutritious food for all; shifting to sustainable consumption patterns; boosting nature-positive production; advancing equitable livelihoods; and building resilience to vulnerabilities, shocks, and stress, the national and sub-national dialogues in Uzbekistan framed the discussions around the challenges and also the opportunities that the triple planetary crisis bring to the food systems.
At the concluding dialogue on 29 June, Ms. Helena Fraser, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Uzbekistan said, “the transformation of the food systems at the national and local levels paves the way to change course and make progress towards the national and global sustainable development targets and goals, respectively. The food systems sustainability dialogues afforded a platform for the active involvement of all key stakeholders and their articulation of how to better integrate health, nutrition, climate change action, biodiversity conservation, and pollution reduction in the way we shape food production and consumption”.
The final stage of the dialogue consolidated country-level commitments and actions to shape the pathway to sustainable national food systems for the coming decade. Uzbekistan’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Kahramon Yuldashev, highlighted that “it is expected that the process of multi-stakeholder dialogue will continue in the country even after the culmination of the global Food Systems Summit in September”. The outcomes of the dialogues will move forward with the national food systems transformation pathway in the coming months and years.
Ms. Matilda Dimovska, UNDP Resident Representative in Uzbekistan, noted that “the dialogues offered one of the most dynamic ways to engage stakeholders in considering their role in food systems, how their roles link with others, and how they can unite around transformative actions in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.
Mr. Francois Begeot, Head of Cooperation Unit of the European Union Delegation in Uzbekistan, said “the EU remains keen to support government reforms for greener and more sustainable agricultural sector that is climate responsive”.
Participants from the agricultural sector, including those involved in the production and marketing of crops, fish, and livestock contributed to the dialogue. In addition to government participation, there were also representations from the academic sector, financial services, and the food industry. These participants together with small, medium, and large-scale artisans and business stakeholders as well as from the donor community committed to discussing food systems challenges and exploring a new narrative about a systemic way of looking at food from various sectoral perspectives.
“The dialogues provide an inclusive and supportive venue for debate, consensus-building, and shared commitment making,” some farmer participants in the series of dialogues mentioned. Other sectoral stakeholders said, “the dialogues promote trust and increase motivation to hold ourselves accountable for commitments made with mechanisms in place to uphold this accountability”.
In the final dialogue, international donor organizations in Uzbekistan including the European Union (EU), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) reconfirmed their commitment to support agriculture and food industries in Uzbekistan.
USAID will introduce innovative business management practices and co-finance investments in new technologies to support farmers and agribusinesses to produce and add value to safe, quality, and environmentally sound agricultural products.
JICA, on the other hand, intends to launch the development of innovative climate resilient technologies for monitoring controlling of water use efficiency on crop productivity in the Aral Sea Region.