Italy's premier Giuseppe Conte on Monday in Rome opened a new centre set up by the government in partnership with the United Nations to fight climate change and boost sustainable development in Africa - a region which Conte called "a pillar of Italy's foreign policy".
"The African Continent represents a pillar of Italy's foreign policy and which this government considers a priority," Conte said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Africa Centre for Climate and Sustainable Development
"Security, migration and climate change , economic growth, human development and climate change represent a shared destiny," Conte stated.
Located near the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organisation in central Rome, the new centre was established in partnership with the UN Development Programme and FAO.
The centre will help develop and scale-up innovative solutions for sustainable development and implement the goals of the UN's 2030 Agenda and the landmark 2015 Paris Climate Agreement to end reliance on fossil fuels and to cap global warming, and FAO statement said.
A major focus on boosting the agricultural sectors and promoting rural development in Africa is needed to ensure a better future for the continent's youth who, can be the drivers of development, FAO director-general Jose Graziano da Silva said at the inauguration ceremony.
"It will not be possible to modernize African agriculture if we do not stimulate rural youth with options other than migration," said da Silva.
"We need young people in rural areas, we need rural development, and we can't have that without facing the challenges of climate change," he said, adding that hunger rates are rising in various parts of Africa.
Sub-Saharan Africa is a critical region of Africa where malnutrition greatest and whose farm yields are lowest due to factors including infrastructure deficits and the lack of access to markets and credit, as well s conflict and climate change, according to FAO.
"If we don't step up our actions in the Sahel we will not achieve the Sustainable Development Agenda and the Zero Hunger goal by 2030," da Silva said.
Several ministers from African countries attended the inauguration and participated - along with Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the Vatican’s department for promoting human development, FAO said. The ministers also took part in a roundtable discussion centred on how G7 countries can fight environmental degradation and promote Africa's sustainable economic growth, FAO added.
Africa's development will increasingly determine the development of the world economy over the course of the current century, UNDP administrator Achim Steiner said at Monday's launch ceremony.