Director-General  QU Dongyu

FAO committed to supporting countries to address water-related challenges


9 July 2020, Rome/New York – The FAO Director-General, QU Dongyu, underscored the importance of water as a fundamental issue for the transformation of agri-food systems, in his address to a special High Level Political Forum 2020 event on the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 – ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030.

“Water scarcity, climate change and drought are main hurdles in our efforts to make our agri-food systems resilient and sustainable,” said Qu.

The Director-General affirmed that FAO is committed to supporting countries in their efforts to substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and address water scarcity, which is target 6.4 of SDG 6.

In this sense, he outlined some of FAO’s innovative initiatives, such as the AQUASTAT database to support countries in reducing water stress and the WaPOR portal to provide real-time data on water productivity around the world. In addition, FAO-backed programmes like SMART Irrigation and SMART-WASH help improve the performance of irrigated cropping systems, enabling farmers to allocate resources efficiently and produce more nutritious food with less water.

Another important initiative is FAO’s partnership program called “Global Framework on Water Scarcity” (WASAG), which accelerates joint actions to cope with water scarcity in agriculture in a changing climate. “We will continue working with our partners to build and enhance the human and institutional capacity in the water sector,” Qu said.

Highlighting the importance of different actors to work together to address water-related challenges, the Director-General also mentioned FAO’s Hand-in-Hand Initiative, which provides governments and investment partners with the necessary tools to identify key opportunities for innovation, investment and transformative action.

“Together, as “One UN”, we can bring real change at the country level and accelerate achieving the SDGs,” said Qu.

The UN Secretary General António Guterres welcomed the multi-lateral response to halting the degradation of water sources and associated ecosystems, noting that “water and sanitation are key to limiting the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases”. 

Despite progress made over the last years, three billion people around the world still lack basic washing facilities at home. By launching the SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework, the UN system aims to coordinate better in targeting the use of water resources and deliver results faster at an increased scale.

The speech of the FAO Director-General can be accessed here.