Financing sustainable transformation in the agrifood systems: Gaps and Opportunities

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Time: Thursday, 19. January 2023, 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Room: M2-M3

Languages: English, German, French


Agrifood systems across the world offer a unique opportunity to address climate change from two perspectives. One, by building resilience across agrifood systems, we ensure their adaptation to climate change. At the same time, sustainable agricultural systems offer many opportunities to reduce greenhouse gases emissions. Implementation of climate resilient agrifood systems requires political will, international cooperation, generation and exchange of knowledge and best practices, as well as financial resources to support producers and value chain actors across the world to operate the necessary transformations. Despite the proven huge potential of agrifood systems in the fight against climate change, it is reported how availability and access to climate finance at both farm and country levels remains largely insufficient. The Food and Agriculture for Sustainable Transformation Initiative (FAST), launched at COP27 by the Egyptian COP Presidency, aims at addressing this pressing need and implement concrete actions that would result in improving the quantity and quality of climate finance contributions to transform agriculture and food systems by 2030. During this expert panel, speakers will provide concrete examples of actions both at farm and country level that can support adaptation in the agrifood systems and maintain a 1.5-degree pathway whilst supporting food and economic security, with a focus on FAST’s three pillars, namely access to climate finance, knowledge and capacity, and policy supports and dialogue.

Keynote Speaker

Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General, is an economist and politician from Cape Verde. A leading expert in global development issues, she has worked in public service for over thirty 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 climate change and biodiversity loss to ecosystem degradation to overfishing. Leading to deliver with impact, Semedo promotes an integrated approach, resulting in greater crosssectoral engagement and stronger strategic partnerships, better positioning FAO in its role to promote the transformation to more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agrifood systems. A key player on the FAO Core Leadership Team, Semedo heads flagship initiatives such as the FAO Green Cities Action Programme, the corporate Climate Change Strategy and strengthening the global One Health approach. She fosters high-level multi-stakeholder dialogues that optimize the Organization’s 75+ years of technical expertise and experience, its global reach and innovative advances, all contributing to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Semedo is a firm advocate for women’s empowerment and is well-known for her work promoting gender equity and social parity. Since October 2019 she has chaired the FAO Women’s Committee and helped spearhead the Organization’s Mentorship Programme, looking to build a more equitable and transparent workplace. Before taking up her current duties in 2013, Ms Semedo gained valuable experience and insight in Africa, first as FAO Representative in Niger (2003-2008), then as Deputy Regional Representative for Africa and Sub-regional Coordinator for West Africa (2008-2009) and Regional Representative for Africa (2009-2013). Prior to her international career, she worked as an economist for the Cabo Verde Ministry of Planning and Cooperation before becoming Secretary of State for Fisheries, then in 1993 Minister for Fisheries, Agriculture and Rural Affairs – the first-ever woman Minister in her country. After serving as Minister for Tourism, Transportation and Marine Affairs from 1995-1998, she became Member of Parliament, a position she held until 2003.
Honors and awards
November 2019:
• Receives the Crans Montana Forum Prix de la Fondation
December 2018:
• The Government of Brazil bestows the honorific Order of Rio Branco
• The Universidade Aberta in Lisbon confers the Honoris Causa doctorate for her work in global sustainable development
March 2018:
• Named “Woman of the Year” at the commemoration of the 2018 Women Diplomats Day in Portugal
May 2008:
• Receives the Order of Niger for her distinguished service to the field of agriculture

Panel Guests

Iride works in the EBRD Agribusiness team where she leads the Agribusiness Advisory group. She contributes to shape the strategic and operational agribusiness priorities, optimising integration of agribusiness advisory activities with banking deliverables. She is also responsible for policy dialogue projects implemented in coordination with the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United
Nation. Iride previously worked in the Strategy and Policy Unit of the World Bank, Agriculture and Rural Development Department in Washington DC. She started her career at the UN World Food Program about 15 years ago. Iride holds an MA from SAIS Johns Hopkins University in International Economics.

Martina Fleckenstein is the Global Head of Policy of the Food Practice for WWF International. Martina has over 25 years of experience in national and international environment and development policies, based on a board knowledge on implementation of agriculture and sustainable food production projects in different geographies. She was involved in the preparation of the UN Food Systems Summit, supporting Action Track 3 “Boosting nature positive production at scale” and has broad knowledge on international policy agendas and processes.

Menna Moustafa is a diplomatic attachée at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Arab Republic of Egypt, currently working at the Department of Climate, Environment and Sustainable Development and a member of the COP27 Presidency Team. She holds a BSc in Political Science from Cairo University and pursues her post-graduate studies in Global Affairs at The American University in Cairo.

Born and raised in Japan, YONEDA Ritsuko joined Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in 1999. During her over 20 years of experience, she engaged in the crops, fisheries and livestock policies. In the International Affairs Department, she delegates various international fora including OECD, G7, G20 and the United Nations Food Systems Summit 2021.She also has an experience in FAO as a loaned expert. Specialized in international law and political science, she holds a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy in the Fletcher School of Tufts University, U.S.


1979 – 1986 University of Hamburg – Biology
(Applied Botany, Microbiology, Entomology)
1986 – 1990 PhD in Biology at the University of Hamburg, external work in the Biological Research Center for Agriculture and Forestry (Plant Protection)
1990 – today Ministry of Food and Agriculture
1990 – 2016 – Division Plant Protection / Integrated Pest Management (Officer, Government Director)
Since 2017 – Division Sustainability and Climate Change (Officer, Government Director)
Since 2019

Since 2022 – Head of the Division on Sustainability and
Climate Change
– Head of the Division on Climate Change and Water

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