CFSN Final Event: Opening Remarks

11 Apr 2013

Speech by Ms. Renata Lok-Dessallien, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative

-    Dr. Chen Xiào Hóng, Vice Minister of Health
-    Mr. Juan Ignacio Morro, representative from the Spanish Embassy,
-    Representatives from the Ministry of Commerce and other participating ministries
-    WHO & UN country Team members
-    Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

Good morning, welcome and thank you all for joining us at this concluding event of the MDG-Fund UN joint program Improving Nutrition, Food Safety and Food Security for China’s Most Vulnerable Women and Children.

Food security and safety are complex sustainable development issues. Not only are they directly linked with the health and wellbeing of all individuals, they also relate to issues such as the environment, industry, employment, water and land resources, and other areas. Resolving food safety and security is an absolutely essential element of sustainable development, and it requires cross ministerial, cross discipline collaboration.

China has made great progress in the area of food and nutrition, but it continues to faces important challenges in this area.

Firstly, in terms of quantity, while China has reached a grain self-sufficient rate above 95% in recent years, also contributing to the world’s food security, nevertheless important disparities exist among regions of the country.  Substantial efforts are still needed to ensure full access to food for vulnerable groups, especially in remote rural areas, where 91 million people are still at risk of experience food insecurity .  
The second main remaining challenge relates to the quality of food and nutrition. This requires continuous efforts to improve standards of the food production and processing industries, and ensuring safety of the food chain from all the way from production to consumption.

Ladies and gentlemen,
With the generous support of the Spanish Government, this UN Joint Programme brought together over 20 Government ministries and institutions and 8 agencies of the United Nations to promote a comprehensive approach to food security, including child and maternal nutrition.

These efforts focused on six of China’s poorest counties in Guizhou, Yunnan and Shaanxi Provinces. Through multi-stakeholder cooperation, the programme piloted strategies to respond to the challenge of improving nutrition, food safety and food security for women and children in poverty-stricken areas.       

The work ranged from contributions to the legal framework for food safety in China, to promotion of good practices in increasing food safety and nutrition in schools and hospitals, and increasing the quality standards of food producing industries. Some of the outcomes have been integrated into national policies or are being widely applied. Since the economic capacity of poverty-stricken areas is limited, policy support from national or provincial levels is the key to guaranteeing sustainability of these efforts.

The Joint Programme has also demonstrated that intersectoral cooperation in response to complex development challenges such as this is essential. No single institution can solve these problems alone. Only by sharing and integrating data, plans, resources and implementation strategies between institutions can we can achieve comprehensive and coherent solutions to these challenges. The engagement and cooperation of the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Justice, and numerous other important institutions that participated in this programme were crucial for success.  We know how difficult this inter-institutional cooperation can be, as it challenges silo thinking and competitive relations between institutions.  But it is the only way to effectively address complex development challenges.

I would like to extend my heart-felt congratulations to all of you who have worked in this joint program for your efforts to help achieve its results. I would like to express my particular appreciation to all the ministries involved in the programme, with special thanks to the Ministry of Health for its leadership of the programme. Vice Minister Chen Xiao Hong, the UN stands ready to continue our support to your efforts to promote a healthier society in China and in the world.

I also wish to extend my special thanks to the Ministry of Commerce for its wise guidance and coordination of the four MDGF Joint programmes in China. Our MOFCOM colleagues have done a wonderful job on this. Thank you!

I would like to extend my warm thanks to the Government of Spain for its generous support to the joint programmes in China with its MDG Fund. This has been a very significant contribution to the MDGs globally.

Finally, my warm thanks to all UN colleagues involved in this programme and especially to WHO for its excellent stewardship and coordination.

I hope that the fruits of this programme may live on long after the formal closure of the project, for the full benefit of all Chinese people.  After all, the right to food (and by that we mean pure, unadulterated food) is one of the most fundamental of human rights.

Thank you very much.