New G20 Garden plants green future in Rome’s ancient heart

Rome - The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in co-operation with the Italian Presidency of the G20, today opened Rome's first garden dedicated to the concept of sustainable development. The "G20 Green Garden" is being billed as a space where recreation and the embrace of nature meet education on themes of global import.

Evocatively sited in the Parco dell'Appia Antica - an archeologically rich expanse connecting modern Rome to its sylvan past - the space features installations showcasing the "Global Goals," a set of interconnected policy benchmarks that include ending poverty, eradicating hunger and creating sustainable cities.

The Garden links the G20's priorities of "People, Planet, Prosperity" into the UN's Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, which, with FAO in the lead, aims to halt and reverse environmental degradation and biodiversity loss; and into FAO's Green Cities Initiative, which seeks to re-align urban policies, production capacities and supply chains to boost food security, strengthen livelihoods, and build resilience to shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The Garden is a global call of solidarity, for governments, international organizations, private businesses, academia, civil society and individuals to take action to create a sustainable future for all," said FAO Director-General QU Dongyu. "Rome is providing a good example in working towards that sustainable future. We, as Rome's dwellers, are taking the first step today to reshape our relationship with nature and to rebuild back better and greener."

Rome has been the host city of FAO since 1951.

Joining Director-General Qu for the inauguration were the President of the Regione Lazio, Nicola Zingaretti; a delegation representing the Mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi; Gianpiero Palmieri, Archbishop of the Vicariate of Rome; senior officials representing all partners in the project - the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Education, Culture and the Archaeological and Regional Parks of Appia Antica; and representatives of the G20 countries, including the ambassadors of Saudi Arabia and Indonesia - immediate former and future holders respectively of the G20 Presidency.

"This day sees the opening of a generous, multi-stage project, embracing the city of Rome and hosted in one of its most ravishing, priceless spots," said President Zingaretti. "It is also for us a profoundly symbolic opportunity to strengthen co-operation on matters relevant to the G20. It is clear that following the COVID-19 health crisis, our next challenges are the pursuit of sustainable development and food security for everyone. Rebuilding must also - and perhaps primarily - start from these premises. This is a global struggle, one we must win together, decisively, once and for all."

Speaking in lieu of Mayor Raggi, Luca Montuori, Rome's Councillor for Urban Planning, said: "This garden links the past and the future. And this is the role of Rome. I bring you the greetings of the city and I thank everyone for their commitment." He underscored the increasing role in sustainable development of cities where most of the world's population now live and where the proportion is set to increase over the next two decades.

The Garden will open to the public a day after the inauguration, on Friday 11 June. It is set to be landscaped in stages. The autumn season will see the planting of the lucus, or "sacred grove" - an agricultural rite harking back to the antiquity. Digital will meet ancient in the Garden as QR codes add a virtual dimension.

From the start of the new academic year in September, guided tours focusing on the Sustainable Development Goals will be offered to students of all ages. In the run-up to October, the space will also serve as a physical and virtual backdrop to high-level G20 events.

FAO at the G20

FAO is committed to engage with the Italian G20 Presidency on several fronts. The UN agency has been invited to participate in key events, including the Global Health Summit (Rome, 21 May); the Foreign Affairs and Development Joint Ministerial Session (Matera and Brindisi, 29 and 30 June); the Environment Ministers' Meeting and Climate and Energy Ministers' Meeting (Naples, 22 and 23 July); and the Agriculture Ministers' Meeting (Florence, 19 and 20 September).

At the Global Health Summit of G20, Director-General Qu pointed out that beyond jeopardizing human health, the COVID-19 pandemic was also disrupting agri-food systems that are core to our health and life, and called for immediate action to avoid a global food crisis with long-term impacts.

At the Foreign Affairs and Development Joint Ministerial Session in Matera, the Director-General will highlight the Food Coalition, launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic with Italy the leading partner, as a means for unified action to build sustainability and resilience for the world's poorest and most vulnerable.

The Food Coalition aims to mobilize political, financial and technical support, and encourage countries and donors to become involved in the global response and recovery from COVID-19, as well as to create more resilient agri-food systems around the world.

Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations