How can we transform our food systems?

GLF Live with Maria Helena Semedo, Jyotsna Puri and Christopher Brett

Earlier this year, environmental leaders from 185 countries gathered in Vancouver, Canada for the Seventh Assembly of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), where they discussed ways to tackle the climate and biodiversity crises and make conservation more inclusive. 

The GEF Assembly also saw the launch of the Global Biodiversity Framework Fund, a fund for protecting global ecosystems and species. The Fund will dedicate up to 20 percent of its resources to support Indigenous-led initiatives to protect and conserve biodiversity, and more than a third of its resources towards Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries.

In this GLF Live in cooperation with the Food Systems, Land Use and Restoration (FOLUR) Impact Program, join host Peter Mbanda Umunay and experts Maria Helena Semedo, Jyotsna Puri and Christopher Brett to find out the key takeaways from the GEF Assembly and what they mean for ecosystem protection. 

Maria Helena Semedo is a Cape Verdean economist and politician currently serving as the deputy director general of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). A leading expert in global development issues, she has worked in public service for over 30 years. Over the last decade, FAO has helped shape a new global narrative where agriculture is prominently recognized as a solution in addressing increasingly complex emerging issues – from transforming food systems to dealing with climate change. Leading to deliver, Semedo promotes an integrated, inclusive approach, resulting in greater cross-sectoral engagement and stronger strategic partnerships, better positioning FAO in its role to promote a transition to sustainable food and agriculture systems.

As part of the FAO Core Leadership Team, Semedo works to develop impactful initiatives such as the FAO Green Cities Action Programme and the corporate strategy for mainstreaming biodiversity across agricultural sectors, fostering multi-stakeholder dialogues that optimize the Organization’s 75 years of technical expertise and experience, its global reach and innovative approaches, all contributing to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Jyotsna Puri is the associate vice-president, strategy and knowledge department at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). She leads the organization’s strategy work in its key areas targeting agriculture, climate, gender, nutrition, youth and social inclusion. Puri provides the vision for evidence-informed advice on program designs and implementation, contributing to resource mobilization, and supporting IFAD’s global remit in providing state-of the art policy advice related to these topics.

Puri has worked previously at the Green Climate Fund, 3ie, UNEP, the World Bank and UNDP. She is also an adjunct associate professor at Columbia University, where she previously served as a research scientist. She has published in many academic journals and written for newspapers and provided advice as a board member to several development organizations. She holds a PhD and MSc in agriculture and resource economics and an MA in development economics.

In 2020, Puri was selected by the GLF as one of 16 women who have shown leadership in restoring the earth through their efforts.

Christopher Brett is the Food Systems, Land Use and Restoration Impact Program (FOLUR) lead at the World Bank and has over 30 years of experience working within the public and private sectors in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Brett serves as the World Bank representative on the AgResults Steering Committee, providing technical inputs and guidance to the design, monitoring, and evaluation of the Challenge Projects. He has a Master’s degree in agricultural development from Cranfield University.

Dr. Peter Umunay (moderator) is a senior environmental specialist at the Global Environment Facility (GEF), based in Washington, D.C. He manages the Food Systems, Land Use and Restoration (FOLUR) and Food Systems integrated programs. Umunay leads the agriculture and food systems area of work and supports the GEF’s mandate to generate global environmental benefits under the biodiversity, climate change, and land degradation focal areas. He brings over 15 years of work experience with international organizations; academic and research institutions; and governments. Umunay has over 30 scientific publications and works in collaboration with scientists across the world in the areas of the forest-climate nexus and sustainable commodities. He holds a MSc and PhD from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Article tags

activismAfricaaquaculturebiodiversityclimate changefarmingfinanceFOLURfoodfood securityGLF Nairobilandscape restorationlandscapesnature-based solutionsoceanplanetary healthpolicyrestorationsciencevalue chains

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