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AU-EU Summit 17-18 February 2022: A Science Agenda

The AERAP Africa-Europe Science Collaboration Platform will organise side events at the AU-EU Summit on 14-18 February 2022. The purpose of the meeting will be to promote awareness of the contribution of collaborative research and development as a critical aspect of EU-Africa relations and collaborations, in particular in addressing global challenges together.

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Friday, February 18 • 13:00 - 14:00
(REF 181300) Invited Lecture: Ireland Africa Rural Development Committee with Tom Arnold

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AU-EU Partnership Opportunities in Achieving African Sustainable Food Systems.

This presentation proposes that the 2022 AU-EU Summit should place the delivery of Sustainable Food Systems (SFSs) as a key element of the future AU-EU strategic relationship. It examines how developments at international, African and EU level are aligned to facilitate such a move at this time. It suggests that Ireland has a particular contribution to make towards an AU-EU partnership working to support African SFSs, by virtue of its experience in transforming its own food system and its commitment to being an international leader in SFSs.

The 2020 UN Food Systems Summit resulted in over 100 countries, including many African countries, committing to transforming their food systems as part of their pathway towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A food systems approach recognizes the interconnections between policies for food, climate and health and that all actors along the value-chain have a role in developing a sustainable food system. Food system transformation is a long term process and is part of broader societal and economic transformation.

Africa remains heavily dependent on its agri-food sector, in its share of the economy, numbers employed and share of - largely unprocessed - exports. Ambitious targets have been set for the development of the sector, through the 2014 Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods but these targets have remained far from delivery. Growing markets for food resulting from increasing prosperity and rapid population growth provide opportunities for African food producers but there has been a large increase in African food imports over the past two decades. The African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA), founded in 2018, should be an important factor in boosting intra-African trade in food and other products. The COVID pandemic has highlighted the strategic importance of enhanced African food and nutrition security.

Europe has made major changes in policy direction, notably through the through the European Green Deal (2019) with the ambition that Europe should become the first climate neutral continent by 2050. The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is undergoing significant reform, aimed at becoming more sustainable. The Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI), also known as Global Europe, reflects the potential of collaborative and inclusive science to address key policy objectives for AU-EU relations, including digital transition and the Green Deal.

Agri-food and rural sector has been given a particular focus within AU-EU collaboration over the past decade. A series of Agriculture Ministerial meetings have been held over the 2016-21 period, with the Joint AU-EU Ministerial Declaration adopted at the 2019 meeting in Rome, and the related AU-EU Rural Transformation Agenda. This Agenda was largely based on the recommendations of the Task Force Rural Africa (TFRA), (March 2019).

Ireland’s EU membership since 1973 has been central to the country’s political and economic progress over the past half-century. Ireland’s agri-food sector has been transformed from being a producer of primary commodities to being a high value added internationally competitive sector. Food Vision 2030, Ireland’s national agri-food strategy for the coming decade, provides the policies to make Ireland an international leader in SFSs, through its domestic policy and its foreign and development cooperation policy.
The above narrative provides a conjuncture of events which point to the need for AU and EU political leaders to fully recognise the importance of prioritising SFSs in future development strategy. This requires urgent action, reflected in increased investment as envisaged in the Malabo Declaration cited above, and longer-term prioritisation and policy consistency for the sector. As already noted, food system transformation must be an integral part of wider societal and economic transformation.

A broad-based integrated partnership between Africa and Europe should be a foundation stone in enabling Africa achieve its potential in SFSs. The TFRA report proposed a three stranded basis – people to people, business to business, government to government – for such a partnership.

The presentation concludes by building on the TFRA recommendations, taking account of the lessons learned from the COVID pandemic, and responding to the opportunities offered by the AU declaring 2022 as ‘Africa’s Year of Nutrition’, to offer a practical programme aimed at moving Africa towards the achievement of Sustainable Food Systems.
Tom Arnold
7 February 2022.

avatar for Daan du Toit

Daan du Toit

Deputy Director-General: ICR, Department of Science and Innovation
Daan du Toit started his career in the South African Government with the then Department of Foreign Affairs where he trained as a diplomat. Since 2002 he has been attached to the Department of Science and Innovation, where he has notably served as the Department's representative in... Read More →
avatar for Tom Arnold

Tom Arnold

Chair, EU Commission’s High-Level Expert Group to assess the Need for an International Platform for Food Systems Science (IPFSS)
Tom Arnold currently serves as Chair, EU Commission’s High-Level Expert Group to assess the Need for an International Platform for Food Systems Science (IPFSS); the Irish Government’s Special Envoy for Food Systems; Member of the Champions Network for the UN Food Systems Summit... Read More →
avatar for Professor Intisar Soghayroun

Professor Intisar Soghayroun

Professor, University of Khartoum, Sudan
Professor Intisar  Soghayroun, professor of Archaeology, University of Khartoum, SudanProfessor Intisar Soghayroun, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research from 2019 to October 2021. She is a professor of Archaeology at the Department of Archaeology, Faculty of Arts... Read More →

Friday February 18, 2022 13:00 - 14:00 CET