His Excellency, John Kufuor: Celebrating his commitment to nutrition as he retires as Co-Chair of the Global Panel
Co-Chair, H.E. Kufuor, retires from the Global Panel
His Excellency John A. Kufuor has been Co-chair of the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition since its inception in 2013. Through his leadership, the Panel has delivered 18 evidence-based policy and technical briefs covering various aspects of food systems, together with two Foresight reports. It has also convened several round table events with governments in Sub- Saharan Africa and South Asia to inform decision-makers on evidence-based policies to help deliver healthy diets for all.
As former President of Ghana, winner of the World Food Price for Food and Agriculture in 2011, and former World Food Programme Global Ambassador against Hunger, Kufuor has gained global acclaim for his unique understanding of how food systems can support better nutrition and sustainable agriculture. His wealth of knowledge, high status and positive influence have allowed the Global Panel to effect change at the very highest level.
He founded the African Leaders for Nutrition (ALN) initiative, alongside Global Panel member and President of the African Development Bank, Dr Akinwimi Adesina, and the late Mr Kofi Annan (1938-2018), former Secretary-General of the United Nations. This high-level initiative is now driving political engagement to advance nutrition in Africa. It is led by an eminent group of ALN Champions, comprising of current and former heads of state, finance ministers and leaders with the power to catalyse and sustain high-level political leadership and commitment to end malnutrition in Africa.
The former President was also instrumental in helping the Global Panel convene high-level inter-Ministerial meetings in Ghana, including with His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo, where there was agreement to accelerate progress to tackle malnutrition in Ghana. This culminated in signing a Consensus Statement in March 2019, which pointed the way forward for multi-sectoral action on food systems to promote healthy diets.
Through the John A. Kufuor Foundation, President Kufuor has also maintained his heartfelt support to fight all forms of malnutrition in his home country of Ghana. Partnering with the United Nations World Food Programme, he drove forward a nationwide strategic review of Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG2) leading to President Akufo-Addo launching the Ghana Zero Hunger Strategic Review Report in 2017. He has also supported the inauguration of the Ghana Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to ensure that nutrition advocacy is consolidated and more effective.
At the heart of all his achievements is President Kufuor’s personal desire to see food systems transformed so that they provide safe, affordable and healthy diets for all whilst protecting and nurturing planetary resources. He has recently stated that, “food and nutrition are central to the stability of mankind”.
And while His Excellency is stepping down from active duty as Co-Chair of the Global Panel, his unparalleled expertise will still be called upon from time to time and his legacy will continue to influence generations to come. A legacy that is encapsulated in the Global Panel’s new report, ‘Future Food Systems: For people, our planet, and prosperity‘, a report he is proud to have been part of.
In typically understated fashion, at the launch of this report, President Kufuor said he would like to be “known as someone who did his bit to help make the world identify the things needed to transform food systems, for the better development of mankind and to sustain our planet”.
The new report provides a series of evidence-based recommendations and practical steps for governments, civil society and the private sector on how to transform food systems so they deliver not only better health for people and our planet, but also better equity and prosperity for all. As President Kufuor put it, “We have the evidence. We have the steps to begin food system transformation. We now need the commitment and courage from our leaders across the world to act now”.
Nowhere is this more important than at the forthcoming Nutrition for Growth event in Tokyo and the UN Food Systems Summit in 2021, events that President Kufuor sees as a critical component of his Global Panel legacy. The Global Panel is very fortunate to have the UN Special Envoy for the Summit Agnes Kalibata as one of its Panel members.
Fellow Co-Chair, Sir John Beddington said “I speak on behalf of my fellow Panel Members when I say we have been very privileged to have worked alongside His Excellency John Kufuor during the last 7 years. His knowledge and status have both enriched our work and given us unparalleled access to leaders across Africa, and beyond”.
Whilst President Kufuor is irreplaceable, the Global Panel will ensure that his vision, desire and passion to transform food systems so they provide safe, affordable and accessible diets that support human and planetary health, will continue.