United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres last week appointed Rwanda’s Ms. Agnes Kalibata as his special envoy for the 2021 Food Systems Summit. Ms. Kalibata is the Alliance for African Green Revolution (AGRA) president and a former minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources. The UN will host the summit to promote the systems approach to the twin issues of (food security/agriculture/poverty) and climate change. The systems approach has gained credence of late as it considers the interconnectedness of issues and reduces unintended effects or tries to balance the trade-offs and interests among various stakeholders. Sustainable agriculture has been identified as one of the areas that will influence key sustainable development goals among them reduced poverty, zero hunger and reduced impact of climate change.
In this role she will be leading efforts to deliver actionable plans on transforming food systems to feed an increasing population threatened by climate change. She will work closely with governments, development agencies and regional bodies in the next two years to inspire action and lead the summit in 2021.
Ms. Kalibata has an impressive CV as the current AGRA president leading the largest organisation in the African continent that brings together governments, development partners such as Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, DFID, USAID etc among other stakeholders in transforming small-scale farming to lift millions out of poverty and end hunger. Prior to this appointment, she led the Rwandan Agriculture ministry from 2008-2014 where she’s credited with transformative policies that revolutionized agriculture in the country. She holds a Doctorate in Entomology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and two honorary doctorates from the University of Liege and McGill University. In 2012, she was awarded the YARA prize now renamed Africa Food Prize and she’s also the holder of the 2019 National Academy of Sciences Public Welfare award for her policy leadership in transforming the livelihoods of small-scale farmers.