EU announces €25 million for education in crisis contexts and €140 million to support research in sustainable food systems

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.

Speaking at the Global Citizen Live event, President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announced that the European Union is pledging €140 million to support research in sustainable food systems and tackle food hunger via CGIAR, formerly also known as Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research, and a further €25 million for Education Cannot Wait, a global fund for the education of children in emergencies and protracted crises, in particular girls, children with disabilities, minorities and other marginalized children.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said: “We must join forces to beat the coronavirus and rebuild the world better. Europe is doing its share. From the beginning, Europeans have shipped 800 million doses of vaccines with the world, even when we did not have enough for ourselves. Now, we need to step up, to help end this pandemic globally, end hunger, give children all over the world equal chances. Team Europe has already committed to donate 500 million doses of vaccines to vulnerable countries by next summer. On top, the European Commission today commits €140 million to improve global food security and reduce extreme poverty, and €25 million to Education Cannot Wait, supporting education for children around the world living through conflict and crisis.”

Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen said: “We must unite to put the SDGs back on track. As we continue to witness, we can never take access to education for granted. Team Europe has to date contributed to more than 40% of the funding of Education Cannot Wait, and the new €25 million contribution from the EU will further support it to reach the most vulnerable children and bring them back to education. Additionally, thanks to our substantial support of €140 million to CGIAR, we will be creating opportunities for youth and women, while tackling a key challenge of today, to promote sustainable food systems. Coordinated global actions will be decisive for achieving an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable transformation of food systems.”

Supporting education for children living through conflict and crisis

The EU will contribute an additional €25 million to Education Cannot Wait (ECW) to support the right of even the most vulnerable children to a safe, quality education and leave no one behind. The new funding brings the total EU contribution to Education Cannot Wait to €52.5 million, accelerating its impact, scope and reach across the globe.

Quality education is a fundamental human right and plays a key role as an accelerator of progress on all Sustainable Development Goals. However, during the pandemic, 1.6 billion children were out of school globally, and millions may never return to learning. The world risks reversing decades of progress.

Education Cannot Wait is a global fund for the education of children in emergencies and protracted crises that enables governments, multilateral institutions and the private sector to finance comprehensive education programmes for crisis-affected children and youth. It was designed to be agile and to reach the most vulnerable, excluded and hard-to-reach, including girls, children with disabilities, minorities and other marginalized children.

Since its establishment in 2016, the fund has helped over 4.6 million vulnerable girls and boys living in fragile situations and crisis contexts to access inclusive, quality education in a safe and protective environment. The fund’s COVID-19 education in emergency response has provided distance learning, life-saving health messages and other support to an additional 29.2 million vulnerable girls and boys.

Why research in food systems transformation is key to ending hunger

The global climate crises, depletion of natural resources, and biodiversity loss are existential threats to humankind and the defining global challenges of our century. They are leading threats to providing sustainable food and nutrition security for all. Together, they propel poor health, inequalities, social upheaval, and conflicts.

Food systems are both a driver and a victim of these challenges. Yet — if managed and governed differently — they can be part of the solutions and a champion of change, leading other sectors with solutions and inspiration.

To succeed, knowledge, capacities, quality in the partnerships, contextualised innovations and coordinated global actions are of utmost importance.

A radical realignment of food systems around the world could accomplish an end to hunger and malnutrition in all its forms, while promoting gender equality, job creation, prosperous livelihoods, opportunities for youth, climate solutions, and environmental health. This is what CGIAR proposes to achieve through its 2030 Research and Innovation Strategy.

The EU support will strengthen CGIAR capacities and interventions to renew its research and innovation portfolio to address production methods, practices and related policies; and to scale up nature-based solutions and ecosystem-based approaches (e.g. agro-ecological and regenerative approaches, agroforestry, sustainable land management, etc.) to improve productivity based on ecological processes to contribute to economic, social and environmental sustainability.

CGIAR, founded in 1971, is a network of 15 research centres around the world with about 8,000 scientists conducting research into food systems in Africa, Asia, Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, whose mission is to help feed a rapidly growing global population. It now aims to help tackle 21st century challenges, to transform food, land, and water systems in a climate crisis, and prepare the world for shocks like those brought by COVID-19, within a restructured organization.

Background on the Team Europe global response to COVID-19

In 2020, COVID-19 is projected to have pushed 100 million people into extreme poverty and around 500 million people under the expanded poverty line – to living on less than US $5.5 per day.

In response to the impact of the pandemic in partner countries, the EU, its Member States and European development finance institutions – as Team Europe – responded with a €46 billion support package between April 2020 and April 2021 to help partner countries address the immediate health and socio-economic consequences of the pandemic.

This support will be scaled up with the new €80 million EU external budget 2021-2027, at least 20% of which will be dedicated to human development, in particular to health and education.

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