Water and food security on agenda of G20 Ag and water ministers

13 September 2020

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, Keith Pitt, met virtually with G20 Agriculture and Water Ministers today to address issues of global importance, including agricultural trade, food security, water management and recovery from COVID-19. This is the first joint meeting of G20 agriculture and water ministers.

Minister Pitt said the first joint meeting of G20 agriculture and water ministers was a valuable opportunity for Australia.

“We can contribute to international efforts in sustainable and resilient water management, trade facilitation and food security, which play a vital role in global economic and political stability, especially in the context of COVID-19,” Minister Pitt said.

“The pandemic has brought into sharp focus the importance of secure food supply chains and has highlighted how consumers can react when there is uncertainty in supply.

“When G20 Agriculture Ministers met in April this year for the Extraordinary G20 meeting on COVID-19, they reaffirmed the need for the continued flow of food, products and inputs for agriculture to minimise impacts on food supply chains, boost rural incomes and ensure global food security and nutrition.

“Ensuring we continue to have enough safe, nutritious and affordable food to feed the world will only be possible if we continue to boost the productivity and profitability of agriculture, manage water resources sustainably, and have open and efficient agricultural trade and distribution systems in place across the globe.

“It’s important that we keep trade in agriculture, food products and inputs flowing during this challenging time.

“Solving global challenges like these requires global cooperation—so forums like the G20 have an important role to play.

“Despite persistent drought, bushfires, and now COVID-19, Australian farmers continue to demonstrate their resilience and ingenuity.

“I commend G20 members’ efforts to keep trade open during these challenging times to ensure that trade in agri-food products flows freely to where it is needed. 

“Global food security is particularly dependent on water security.

“Australia’s efficient and innovative water management and infrastructure development has meant that despite being the driest inhabitable continent, Australia is a net exporter of food. 

“The Australian government is committed to innovative approaches to sustainability, efficiency and adaptivity in the management and use of our limited water resources.

“Australia will continue to work with our international partners to share our knowledge and experience in sustainable and resilient water management. 

“Initiation of the G20 Dialogue on Water, for sharing water best practices and increased coordination and cooperation is a positive step forward.

“Since 1980, four pandemics have been linked to human use of wildlife.

“We know that many human-wildlife interactions across the wildlife supply chain, such as those found at wildlife wet markets, pose a serious risk to global public health. The evidence already exists that urgent international action needs to be taken on this matter. 

“The Australian Government has taken a leadership role in pursuing global reforms on this issue through coordinated global action and support for countries to mitigate the pandemic risks posed by human use of wildlife, including a phasing out or cessation of wildlife wet markets where risks cannot be sufficiently mitigated. 

“These were just some of this issues which were on the agenda today and I was proud to share Australia’s experiences, insights and progress on these issues, and learn from other nations who face similar challenges.”

Fast Facts

  • The G20 Agriculture and Water Ministers’ Meeting planned earlier this year in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia was postponed due to travel restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • An Extraordinary Virtual Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting on COVID-19 was held on 21 April 2020 to respond to the initial impacts of COVID-19 of agri-food systems, which Minister Littleproud attended.
  • Australia participated in the first virtual G20 Dialogue on Water on 24 August 2020 to share our best practices, including both domestic policies and programs and international cooperation and development partnerships,  in managing Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) to combat COVID-19.
  • Australia has been ranked among the top countries in the world for aligning our agriculture and water policies with global recommendations in a report recently released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
  • The G20 economies represent about 60% of the world’s agricultural land and about 80% of global trade in agricultural products.
  • The UN estimates the world’s growing population will see demand for agricultural products increase by up to 60% by 2050.