Agricultural sector: Jointly combating hunger, climate catastrophe and species extinction

What are the priorities of the G7 agriculture ministers? Cornelia Berns, Head of the Directorate for International Cooperation and World Food Affairs at the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) reports on the G7 agricultural sector. Among other things, emphasis is on the importance of sustainable and deforestation-free agricultural supply chains and the promotion of investments in research and innovation.

Germany also needs a transformation of agricultural and food systems that must be structured to represent the interests of all food producers. ©Unsplash/Bob Brewer, 2021

By Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft (BMEL)

All contributions

By Cornelia Berns

Cornelia Berns is in charge of the Directorate for International Cooperation and World Food Affairs at the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL).

All contributions

The work in the agricultural sector of the G7 was dominated by Russia’s attack on Ukraine in violation of international law as well as its consequences for Ukraine and the effects on global food security. Immediately after the start of the war on 11 March, Federal Minister Özdemir invited participants to a virtual special session. Without mincing words, the participants, in the presence of the Minister of Agriculture of Ukraine, condemned the Russian aggression against the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and emphasised that the G7 stands in absolute solidarity with Ukraine. To thwart off the foreseeable major upheavals on the agricultural markets and the associated shocks to food security, the agricultural ministers called for the international markets for agricultural products to be kept open and stable, thus sending a strong sign early-on to reassure the markets.


Similarly, the key topic at the May meeting was the current impact of the war on Ukraine’s agriculture and food sector and on global food security. It is crucial that the G7 countries continue to secure the food supply for the population in Ukraine and support Ukrainian agriculture in resuming its grain exports and in procuring seeds and fertilisers. In view of the precarious world food situation, the G7 agriculture ministers reaffirmed their commitment to help stabilise markets and to keep global agricultural markets open and avoid export freezes, mainly to avoid further price increases. The production and food prices are supposed to be monitored more closely to facilitate earlier responses to developments such as food speculation. To this end, the agricultural market information system AMIS is to be strengthened. The BMEL will double its contribution to AMIS for this purpose.


In addition to the current crisis management, the top priority for German Minister of Food and Agriculture Özdemir was not to lose sight of one thing:


The solution of further global crises must not be postponed. Instead, their solution must be part of crisis management.


In particular, the climate crisis and the loss of biodiversity require our commitment. Only resilient food systems provide a solid foundation for long-term security of the world’s food supply. Therefore, the transformation to sustainable food systems was the second agenda item of the consultations in the agricultural sector. The focus here was on three topics.


The first discussion centred on promotion of sustainable, deforestation-free agricultural supply chains. Our concern here is to achieve coherence in the G7 regulations in order to boost global sustainable agricultural supply chains in the long term. The OECD will therefore analyse the existing due diligence regulations of the G7 countries. Among other things, this task can build on the overview of relevant instruments on human rights and environmental due diligence (HREDD) prepared on behalf of the BMZ. This is an important step in the right direction. The second important topic was carbon storage in agriculture. In this area, it was important to also shed light on the risks, especially with regard to certification (e.g. the issue of long-term carbon storage). And finally, we also achieved that investments in research and innovation, as well as measures to reduce food losses and waste as well as antibiotic resistance were embedded in the G7 Agriculture Ministers’ Communiqué.


In conclusion, it should be emphasised that we will only successfully master the transformation of our food systems if we consider the interests of everyone involved in food production. That is why we must shape this process in a way that is environmentally friendly, but also economically compatible for farmers here in Germany as well. At the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), we hope that important impulses have been set by what is only the fourth meeting of G7 agriculture ministers in the history of the G7 and the first under the German G7 Presidency. This applies to the condemnation of the Russian war of aggression and our unreserved solidarity with Ukraine and especially to the short- and long-term measures to secure the global food supply and a sustainable transformation of food systems.


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