Kick-off Event

Kick-off Event

Kick-off Event

Monday, 18 January 2021, 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (CET)
Languages: Arabic, English, Spanish, French, Russian, Chinese, German
The kick-off event marked the official start of the GFFA events that took place from 18 to 22 January 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the kick-off event was held in a virtual format, just like all other 2021 GFFA events.

After a brief welcome, a panel discussion was held on the topic of “How to Feed the World in Times of Pandemics and Climate Change”. The kick-off event featured leaders from politics, business, science, and civil society, as well as representatives from international organisations. The panel discussed how agriculture can provide the world long-term with food for a balanced diet despite pandemics and climate change.


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Conny Czymoch is an independent international moderator and journalist.

She has been engaged in conference moderation for the European Union, the OECD, German ministries, blue chip corporations, associations, and non-profit organisations for more than two decades, covering a host of global topics.

Topics such as global goals (by 2030), sustainability, international relations, economic and labour issues, supply chains as well as resource efficiency, food and agriculture, climate change, digitization in all walks of business and life, mobility, and social responsibility are at the core of her interests and competence. She frequently moderated at the GFFA, Berlin, for Agricultural and Farmers Associations, for the Ministries for Economic Cooperation as well as for the Ministry for Agriculture, as well as the Future Food, always on diverse aspects of how to feed the world.

For fourteen years until 2011, she worked as anchorwoman for the German political television channel Phoenix. Before that, she was reporter and moderator for Deutsche Welle tv, Deutschlandfunk, WDR, and RTHK (Hong Kong).

Conny is also a media coach for top management – with customers from DAX30 companies as well as international NGOs.

Equal working languages are German and English, conversational French on stage.

Panel guests

As the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Dr. Kalibata works with the United Nations system and key partners to provide leadership, guidance, and strategic direction towards the 2021 Food Systems Summit. She is responsible for outreach and cooperation with key leaders, including governments, to ensure the Summit serves as a catalytic process within the Decade of Action to improve food systems around the world to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Paris Agreement.

Since 2014, Dr. Kalibata has also served as President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), where she leads the organization’s efforts with public and private partners to ensure a food secure and prosperous Africa through rapid, sustainable agricultural growth, improving the productivity and livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers in Africa.

Prior to joining AGRA in September 2014, Dr. Kalibata was Rwanda’s Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) from 2008 to 2014, where she drove programs that moved her country from a food insecure to a food secure status and became a reference point for other countries that sought to deliver agriculture transformation. Dr. Kalibata has held several other leadership positions, including Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Agriculture and Deputy Vice Chancellor of University of Rwanda. She also worked for the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Uganda, and various other agricultural development organizations. She sits on various boards, councils and commissions including the Global Commission on Adaptation, the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, the Global Panel for Agriculture & Food Systems for Nutrition, the Global Agriculture & Food Security Program (GAFSP), the Global Agenda Council of the World Economic Forum, the Malabo-Montpellier Panel, and Africa Risk Capacity, among others.

Dr. Kalibata has a distinguished track record as an agricultural scientist, policy maker and thought leader. She was awarded the Yara Prize, now the Africa Food Prize, in 2012, an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Liège in 2018,  an Honorary Doctorate from McGill Univeristy in 2019, and the National Academy of Sciences’ Public Welfare Medal in April, 2019 for her work to drive Africa’s agricultural transformation through modern sciences and effective policy thereby improving livelihoods of stallholder farmers. Dr. Kalibata holds a doctorate in Entomology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

As a Veterinary Public Health Inspector, Dr. Monique Eloit occupied several positions in the Ministry of Agriculture in particular as Deputy Head of the Department for food quality and veterinary and plant health actions. After serving as Director at the French Food Safety Agency (1999-2005), she was appointed in 2005 as Deputy Director General for Food, Chief Veterinary officer of France. In 2009, she joined the OIE as Deputy Director General. She was elected Director General of the OIE in May 2015 by the World Assembly.

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Pavan Sukhdev is a scientist by education, an international banker by training, and an environmental economist by passion. Years of work in sustainability and the invisible economics of nature led to his appointment to head the United Nations’ “Green Economy Initiative” and to lead the G8+5 study TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity).

In his book ‘Corporation 2020’, he describes four changes in micro-policy and regulation which can rapidly transform today’s corporation to deliver tomorrow’s green and equitable “economy of permanence”. As founder and CEO of GIST Advisory, his sustainability consulting firm, Pavan works with C-suite executives and senior government officials on transition techniques, with an emphasis on metrics.   GIST launched two platforms for Corporate Sustainability at Davos 2020, for large corporations and a simpler version for SME’s in partnership with the International Chamber of Commerce.

Pavan  is a Goodwill Ambassador for UN Environment, promoting TEEB implementation and Green Economy transitions. He has served on the boards of Conservation International (CI), the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) and on the TEEB Advisory Board.

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Sunny Verghese is Group CEO of Olam, and post the re-organisation of the Group announced on 20 January 2020, he holds charge as CEO of Olam Global Agri and Olam International.

He was with the Kewalram Chanrai Group (KC Group) for over two decades and in 1989 was mandated to start the Company with a view to building an agricultural-products business for the KC Group. Before joining the KC Group, he worked for Unilever in India.

Since 2018, Mr Verghese has been Chair of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the global, CEO-led organisation dedicated to accelerating the transition to a sustainable world.

Mr Verghese previously chaired CitySpring Infrastructure Management Pte Ltd, a listed Business Trust in Singapore and was also a Commissioner of the Business & Sustainable Development Commission (BSDC). He has won several awards including ‘Outstanding Chief Executive’ at the Singapore Business Awards in 2007, ‘Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year’ for Singapore in 2008 and ‘Best CEO of the Year 2011’ at the Singapore Corporate Awards. He was also awarded the Public Service Medal by the Government of the Republic of Singapore in 2010.

Dr. De Jager is president of the World Farmers’ Organisation and former president of the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU, 2013-2018) and of the Pan African Farmers Union (PAFO, 2014-2017). He is also chairman of the board of Agri All Africa, a board member of FANRPAN and serves on the board of Agri Limpopo, where he is responsible for land reform, transformation, farmer development and Africa Liaison since 2004.

He has farmed in South Africa since 1997 (in the South African Lowveld region) with timber and subtropical fruits (avocados, mangoes and macadamia nuts) and also keeps goats.

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