Experts gather today at B&FT’s ESS 2023 to tackle food security threat


…policy reforms and resilience-building in focus

Following the maiden edition’s resounding success, coupled with the ever-increasing importance of environmental sustainability, the follow-up edition of B&FT’s Environmental Sustainability Summit (ESS) is set to take place at the Alisa Hotel today, June 20, 2023.

The theme of this year’s summit is ‘Climate change and its impact on food systems and sustainable environment’.

The significance of addressing climate change and its effects on food systems has gained even greater importance, as highlighted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF notes that climate change is intensifying food insecurity across sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), with lasting adverse macroeconomic effects particularly on economic growth and poverty. Successive shocks from the Russia-Ukraine conflict and COVID-19 pandemic have further exacerbated food insecurity in SSA, resulting in a 30 percent increase since early 2020.

To address this critical issue, experts including the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, and Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Henry Kokofu, will lead discussions on policy reforms which can be implemented without raising fiscal pressures.

These reforms include crucial changes in trade, regulations, market structure and financial sector policies, which can also catalyse significant private sector investment in resilience-building.

Fiscal policies focused on social assistance and efficient public infrastructure investment will play a key role in improving poorer households’ access to affordable food, facilitating the expansion of climate-resilient agricultural production and supporting quicker recovery from adverse climate events. Critical infrastructure areas such as irrigation systems, telecommunications, transport, storage facilities and renewable-sourced electricity will be emphasised.

Improving access to finance and digitalisation is also crucial in stepping-up private investment in agricultural resilience and productivity, as well as improving the earning capacity and food purchasing power of poorer rural and urban households. Steps to advance property rights, expand telecommunications infrastructure for mobile banking, and provide access to early warning systems and up-to-date market and weather information will be discussed.

Greater regional trade integration and resilient transport infrastructure will enable the sales of surplus harvests from one country to its neighbours facing shortages. Tariff reduction, regional alignment of agricultural and product market laws and regulations, and the expansion of producer organisations will be key elements in facilitating this integration and supporting price stability.

Discussions at the summit aim to identify actionable policies and strategies that can mitigate the impact of climate change on food systems, promote sustainable agriculture, and ensure food security in the face of environmental challenges.

It is expected that outcomes of the Summit will guide governments, businesses and stakeholders in implementing effective measures to combat climate change, protect the environment and secure a sustainable future for the nation and region.

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