Director-General  QU Dongyu

FAO and Japan urge increased responsible investment for greener, stronger agri-food systems


Rome/Tokyo, 19 February 2021 – Japan is stepping up funding for FAO in three key areas, Vice-Minister for International Affairs at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) Makoto Osawa told Director-General QU Dongyu, as the two officials met virtually today. Osawa went on to list the strengthening of agricultural supply chains in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic; the promotion of traditional healthy diets; and statistical capacity.

Additional funding requests were working their way through the Japanese parliament, Osawa added, and were expected to be approved. His country, he stressed, accorded FAO “first rank” significance.

Director-General QU paid tribute to Japan’s record of generously funding international development over the last 50 years and encouraged the country to maintain high levels of engagement.

He noted that funds channelled through FAO had a multiplying effect, drawing attention to the additional opportunities for the Japan to showcase its expertise.

Both Qu and Osawa expressed high hopes for the UN Food Systems Summit, with Qu highlighting FAO’s leading role in both pre-Summit technical assistance and post-Summit implementation.

The two participants concurred on the need to plug the investment gap in offsetting greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture and food production. They noted that while the sector is often said to be responsible for a quarter of emissions, the share of investment allocated to “greening” it is less than five percent of total money flows into agri-food systems.

There was also agreement on the need for greater private, responsible investment in the field. Director-General QU pointed out that where governments set the example, the private sector will follow, often with manifold increases.

Vice-Minister Osawa invited FAO to help establish common standards on economic, social and governance investment in agri-food systems. He alluded to boosting crop production while protecting tropical forests as an example of his government’s funding priorities. The Minister also pointed to Japan’s presence in FAO’s governing structures as a factor apt to promote solid policy coordination.

Director-General QU referred to FAO’s Hand-in-Hand geospatial platform, which offered a wealth of funding opportunities in the sector. He noted that while initial perceptions were that the platform mostly concerned developing countries, middle-income nations were increasingly expressing interest in the platform and its benefits.

There was joint appreciation of the FAO-curated Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS). Currently, 62 GIAHS sites are recognized around the world, with 11 sites in Japan. The programme bridges the gap between food security concerns, landscape preservation and the maintenance of fragile cultural traditions. The Director-General expressed interest in expanding the GIAHS approach to include contemporary and more recent sites of agricultural production across the world: he noted that the applied value of GIAHS goes beyond paying tribute to the agricultural ingenuity of the past, drawing lessons and benefits today and in the future.

Agri-system approaches must be holistic to succeed, the Director-General concluded, amid a sense that FAO’s and Japan’s agendas had further converged ahead of September’s Food Systems summit.