On June 29, the G20 Foreign Affairs Ministers’ Meeting was held in Matera, under Italian presidency, followed by a joint meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Development Ministers. The Foreign Ministers arrived in Matera in the morning, after being greeted the night before by Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio with a welcome ceremony held at the Castello Svevo in Bari.
Three issues were at the centre of the meeting: multilateralism, Africa, and food security, in line with the the three pillars of the Italian Presidency of the G20 (People, Planet and Prosperity) and in harmony with the common thread of “building back better”, aimed at promoting a sustainable, inclusive and resilient recovery.
The meeting of G20 Foreign Ministers was held in two sessions. The first session dealt with the issues of global governance and multilateralism, a key tool for addressing the main global challenges and promoting a sustainable and resilient recovery. As Minister Di Maio said opening the meeting, “the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for a coordinated international response to emergencies that transcend national borders. In an interconnected world, multilateralism and international cooperation are the only truly effective tools to face global challenges.”
Di Maio made a reference to the pandemic, but also to the challenges posed by climate change: “With the two UN Conferences on climate change (Cop26) and biodiversity (Cop15), we have an unmissable opportunity to implement the Paris Agreement, adopting ambitious short-term commitments towarsd the goal of climate neutrality”Di Maio said, reminding everyone that the G20 has a particular responsibility in fostering change on these issues.
Di Maio also stressed the importance of “free, fair, inclusive trade based on respect for shared rules” as the engine of a sustainable recovery and wished for strong support from the G20 for a long-awaited reform of the World Trade Organization.
The second session of the meeting was dedicated to relations with the African continent, with a thematic focus on sustainable development and on the most appropriate policies for addressing issues such as the inclusion of young people and women, trade exchanges, the fight against change climate and energy transition.
Di Maio recalled that “Africa is a fundamental partner in facing common challenges. The G20 must support Africa in its effort to overcome this difficult period and to enter a phase of sustained and sustainable growth. Africa has immense resources; we must act together to release its enormous potential.”
Finally, food security and nutrition were at the center of the joint meeting of Foreign Affairs and Development Ministers. The Italian aimed at providing new political impetus to the global commitment on nutrition and food, issues that have always been part of the international agenda of the Italian government. With the adoption of the Matera Declaration, the G20 Ministers pledged to ” to deliver on food security priorities by enhancing efforts in ensuring safe and adequate nutrition for all, ending all forms of malnutrition, preserving agrobiodiversity, as well as relying on science, innovation, advanced business practices and responsible behavior.”
The Ministers therefore called on the international community to mobilize and build inclusive and resilient food systems, thus ensuring adequate nutrition for all, in order to achieve the “Zero Hunger” goal by 2030. This call includes an invitation to all countries to join the Food Coalition, an initiative launched by Italy in collaboration with FAO, as a mechanism to implement the priorities of the Matera Declaration.