Director-General  QU Dongyu

FAO DG hails the importance of transforming food systems for a better world


12 February, 2020, New York - Much has been done to reduce global hunger, but there’s far more to do and FAO and its sister Rome-based United Nations agencies – IFAD and WFP – will be “exploring new windows of opportunity for bringing about change” at all levels, Director-General QU Dongyu said at a meeting with the Group of Friends of Food Security and Nutrition, where he talked about FAO’s vision and priorities for the Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development.

Hunger and poverty have been reduced in the past 20 years, while agricultural productivity and the provision of education and other basic services have improved. But behind those successes are the significant challenges posed by the 821 million people in the world still suffering from undernourishment, QU said. 

“Agriculture is not a single sector, but a nexus o complex issues”, he said, noting among major themes those of environmental degradation and climate change while also noting that growing inequality often leaves people without enough money to buy food even when it is adequately produced. Agriculture systems must work “not just for farmers, but for all people,” he said.

“If we continue business as usual, we will not meet SDG2,” he added, referring to the internationally-agreed pledge to eradicate hunger by 2030. 

A major opportunity will come with the 2021 World Food Systems Summit, QU said, noting that the event can be a catalytic moment for global public mobilization and actionable commitments to transform current food systems, making them more inclusive and sustainable. It’s a “starting point, not the end of a journey,” he said.

FAO is committed to leverage advances in science and technology, innovation and digitalization in order to stimulate productivity, promote climate resilience and healthy nutrition and reduce food loss and waste. 

The Director-General also emphasized that it is very important that the social dimension of the so needed food systems transformation be a core criterion, ensuring equal participation opportunities for youth, women, consumers and the poor and that the needs of smallholder farmers and small companies’ needs are served. 

This is the main goal of the FAO’s Hand in Hand Initiative, which aims to promote match making between donors and recipient countries, especially to support SIDS, LDC and LLDC countries. The initiative helps to target investment and innovation for transformative change in rural areas where extreme poverty and hunger remain concentrated.