Marcos tells APEC leaders: All global threats redound to food insecurity

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PHILIPPINE President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. told world leaders on Thursday that global threats such as climate change and conflicts redound to the fundamental concern of ensuring sufficient and sustainable food supply.   

“First, food security is a serious global problem. This is felt by every household, by every family, by everyone,” Mr. Marcos said in a speech at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit in Bangkok.  

“The issues that the world faces now — from climate change, to inflation, to war — are viewed by the ordinary Filipino through the lens of food security,” he said.   

The Philippine leader said climate change and food insecurity are “very closely interconnected,” noting that there have been “steep declines” in agricultural output and productivity due to changing weather patterns.  

“Food security must be a top priority for all governments and developing economies… must have the policy flexibility needed to ensure an increased domestic food production and diversification and to improve the local agricultural supply and value chain,” he added.  

Mr. Marcos, 65, took the helm of the Philippine agriculture agency in June, vowing to boost local food production. 

“Second, we must continue to reinforce global health systems, not only against new and emerging variants of COVID, but also against other infectious diseases that may emerge,” he said.   

Mr. Marcos said the global economy “simply cannot afford” another series of lockdowns and travel bans that deflate consumer confidence, dampen tourism recovery, and derail the stability of global markets. 

“Governments must continue to invest in pandemic preparedness and in ensuring the resilience of the global health system,” he said. “Adopting the One-Health approach and strengthening health surveillance systems for emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, from the human-animal-environment interface, can be part of the solution.” 

The Philippine leader said in his first address to Congress in June that the country will no longer enforce lockdowns amid the pandemic.  

Mr. Marcos also rallied Asia-Pacific leaders to do more to address the impacts of climate change, which he said is “the most pressing existential challenge of our time.”  

He said global agreements that seek multilateral solutions to the climate crisis, particularly the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) and the Paris Agreement, have been in force “but not enough progress has actually been made as emissions continue to rise.”  

“The Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 27) is in full swing, but stronger climate action is required,” he added. “As the energy demands of the modern global economy continue to expand rapidly, diversification into renewables and other sources is imperative.”  

The Philippine leader touted the government’s target for a higher share of renewable energy in the power generation mix at 35% by 2030 and 50% by 2040. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza