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16th June, 2021

Food Systems Dialogue in Trinidad & Tobago

We are all members of the global food system, and we all have a responsibility to act.

2021 World Food Prize Laureate
Dr. Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted

Dr. Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted


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Supporting the participation of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago in
the United Nations Food Systems Summit 2021


The Secretary General of United Nations, Antonio Guterres, has convened for the first time in the history of the United Nations a global summit on food systems scheduled for September 2021 alongside the UN General Assembly in New York. He has extended invitations to all Heads of States to encourage their full participation in the summit. 

The call for the Global Food Systems Summit comes against the backdrop that food systems – the constellation of activities involved in producing, processing, transporting and consuming food - are currently inefficient and unsustainable in their current context and will not contribute adequately to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda.  The inefficiencies and unsustainability of food systems are quite evident despite the plethora of actions, innovation and solutions that are being implemented across the globe to strengthen food systems. There is an increasing number of malnourished populations of over 840 million, an increase exacerbated since COVID-19 pandemic. One quarter of children, under 5 years across the globe are stunted according to World Health Organization (WHO) and 1.9 million adults are overweight. According to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), food waste and loss are estimated at 30% of total production while there are increases in greenhouse gas emission, biodiversity loss and the impacts of climate change. In all these circumstances, small farmers are at the lowest end of the food systems and are most vulnerable, in particular female farmers. There is also the absence of a multi-stakeholder, multidimensional approach to include all actors and processes in the food system in a coordinated and integrated way to create a pathway to achieving the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda. Within the context of Trinidad and Tobago the global challenges are replete within the country compounded by a heavy reliance on food imports even though the country has the capacity to be self-sufficient in selected food systems. 

Leading up to the summit, under the leadership of the Secretary General and Prime Minister of Italy Mr Mario Draghi, a Pre-Summit has been scheduled for 19 -21 July 2021. The Pre-Summit will bring together the efforts and contributions of a global engagement process to shape ambitions for a transformed food system. The Pre-Summit will engage all stakeholders in the public sector (agriculture, environment, health, education, social protection, and finance), policy leaders, private sector, youths, women, farmers groups, researchers and academia, civil society organizations (CSOs), indigenous peoples, agro-processors, manufactures, marketers and others. The expectation is that the latest evidence-based and scientific approaches from around the world, together with the launch of a new set of commitment through collaborative actions, supported by the mobilization of new financing and partnerships will contribute to a transformed food system. A system that will be fit-for-purpose to accelerate actions that will work for people, planet, and prosperity. Therefore, global leaders are expected to step up and launch bold new actions, solutions, partnerships, and strategies to recover better from COVID-19 and to deliver progress on all SDGs, each of which rely to some extent on nutritious, sustainable, and equitable food systems.

National, regional and independent Food Systems Dialogues

The summit is promoting three sets of dialogues to solicit responses from all stakeholders in the food systems. These include:  National, Independent and Regional Dialogues. National Dialogues will be led by the government with stakeholders supported by the UN Country Team led by the UN Resident Coordinator. Independent Dialogues will be led by institutions, organizations, and interest groups, while the Regional Dialogues will be coordinated by member states within a grouping like CARICOM, supported by regional institutions and organizations and the UN Agencies such as FAO, WFP, UNDP, UNEP and the UNRCO.

The framework for the Food Systems Summit and the guidance provided for the Dialogues are encapsulated in five broad areas referred to as the Action Tracks and include the following: Ensuring access to safe and nutritious food; Shifting to healthy diets and sustainable consumption patterns; Boosting nature and positive production; Sustainable livelihoods and equity and Building resilience to vulnerability and climate change.  Building on the Action Tracks are other positives for change that include the realization of the right to food; greater involvement of women and youths; innovation and technology and new and blending financing from the public and private sectors.

Countries are being encouraged, at the highest level, to nominate a focal point who will champion and coordinate the hosting of National Dialogues to engage and solicit public opinion, to initiate national commitment and actions that will contribute to efficient and sustainable food systems. These national dialogues must respect at all times the rights and participation of all stakeholders in the food system and find pathways for sustainable actions for achieving the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda.

The Food Systems Dialogue in Trinidad and Tobago

To prepare the participation for the Government of Trinidad and Tobago in the Global Food Summit a national Food Systems Dialogue will take place in Trinidad and Tobago. The dialogue will be led by the Government with stakeholders supported by the UN Country Team led by the UN Resident Coordinator.


To create a platform to bring together all national stakeholders for an exchange of opinions, ideas, and define collective positions on a pathway for

sustainable policy actions to address challenges of food systems and security. Among other, issues such as the high food import bill, malnutrition, unhealthy consumption patterns and NCDs will be discussed as they will need to be addressed to support TTOs 2030 Agenda.


To host a national dialogue as a space for coordinated actions and trade-offs between and among stakeholders to formulate pathways to access safe and nutritious food; healthy diets and sustainable consumption patterns; biodiversity conservation and sustainable production; sustainable livelihoods and equity; and building resilience to vulnerability and climate change that will contribute to achieving the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda.


A brief national position paper that represents Trinidad and Tobago’s priorities to feed into a regional CARICOM position and that could be submitted to the Food Systems Pre-Summit in July 2021.

The Dialogue is proposed as a virtual event with a mix of keynote presentations, interactive panel and group discussions, as well as case study presentations where key stakeholders gather to define and analyze the needs for improved food systems and security in Trinidad and Tobago.


16th June, 2021

9:00 - 9:40 a.m. Opening Ceremony

Convener: Hon. Clarence Rambharat - Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries



Dr. Ronald Roopnarine- Chairperson

Network Manager of Caribbean WaterNet (CapNet-UNDP)

Mrs. Marina Walter

United Nations Resident Coordinator

Senator the Honorable Dr. Amery Browne

Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs

Senator the Honorable Clarence Rambharat

Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries

The Honorable
Dr. Keith Rowley

Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

9:40 - 10: 40 a.m. Thematic Presentations

Dr. Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted

Overview of UN Food Systems Summit 2021 (9:40am- 9:50am):

Dr. Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted –

Global Lead for Nutrition and Public Health at WorldFish


Action track 1: Ensuring access to safe and nutritious food (9:50am- 10:00am)


Dr. Govind Seepersad

Dr. Govin Seepersad


Action track 2: Shifting to healthy diets and sustainable consumption patterns (10:00am- 10:10am)


Professor Karl Theodore

Professor Karl Theodore


Action track 3: Boosting nature and positive production (10:10am- 10:20am)


Hayden Romano –

Managing Director of the Environmental Management Authority


Action track 4: Sustainable livelihoods and equity (10:20am- 10:30am)


Dr. Ranjit Singh

Dr. Ranjit Singh


Action track 5: Building resilience to vulnerability and climate change (10:30am- 10:40am)


Mr. Kishan Kumarsingh –

Head MEA Unit, Ministry of Planning and Development

10:40 - 11:45 a.m. Break out Group Discussions

Dr. Lystra Fletcher-Paul- Food System Specialist
Pathmanathan Umaharan PhD - Professor of Genetics
Pathmanathan Umaharan PhD

11:50 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Presentations of Group Discussion Outcomes to the plenary

12:30 p.m. - 1:15 p.m. Impressions/ Feedback Session

1:15pm- 1:30pm Closing and Vote of Thanks

Concluding remarks: Hon. Clarence Rambharat - Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries

Closing remarks:

Reuben Robertson- FAO

Dr. Ronald Roopnarine- Chairperson

Reuben Robertson- FAO