Director-General  QU Dongyu

FAO and EU stand together for transformed agri-food systems


25 February 2021, Rome – The Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), QU Dongyu, today met virtually with European Union (EU) Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives to FAO to discuss the UN agency’s priorities, the FAO-EU partnership, and the need for transforming agri-food systems.

The Director-General lauded the EU members for the long-standing collaboration and active role in supporting FAO’s work.

He stressed that 2021 was a special year for FAO and the EU as thirty years ago the EU became an FAO Member. This was the first time that the EU as such became a Member of a UN body, and the first and, up to now, only Member Organization of FAO.

The Director-General also highlighted that 2021 was a game-changing year for agri-food systems transformation as it will see many important events – from the UN Food Systems Summit to Climate COP26. This is a good year to speed up actions on One Health and biodiversity preservation, added Qu.

Towards more sustainable agri-food systems

Director-General Qu said FAO’s proposed Strategic Framework (2022-31) focused on leaving no one behind through efficient, sustainable, inclusive and resilient agri-food systems for Better Production, Better Nutrition, Better Environment, and a Better Life – the Four Betters.

He stressed that the Four Betters reflected the interconnected economic, social and environmental dimensions of the agri-food systems, and encouraged a strategic and systems-oriented approach within all FAO’s interventions.

The Director-General highlighted the progress of FAO’s Hand-in-Hand Initiative, which was also generating increasing interest from the private sector, an important partner for achieving efficiency – producing more food with fewer input and less impact on the environment.

He also emphasized the importance of science as a foundation for actions towards transforming agri-food systems.

The EU continues to stand with FAO

All 27 member states of the EU participated in today’s meeting.

The EU Permanent Representative to FAO, Ambassador Alexandra Valkenburg-Roelofs thanked the Director-General for dedicating the time for this dialogue and reiterated EU’s support for FAO’s work, and appreciation for FAO’s role in transforming agri-food systems.

She noted that this was a crucial moment to lay the foundation for sustainable and resilient food systems, and to ensure a green and inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

“We believe FAO can play a crucial role in this…The EU and its Member States stand firmly behind the mission of FAO,” said Valkenburg-Roelofs, describing FAO an important pillar of the UN multilateral system.

She also pointed to the European Green Deal and its importance for transforming production, economies and protecting the environment.

Portugal holds the Presidency of the EU Council for the first half of 2021. The Permanent Representative of Portugal to FAO, Ambassador Pedro Nuno de Abreu e Melo Bártolo, conveyed EU’s commitment to the improvement of food systems, adding: “your success will be our success.” He also cited the European Green Deal as a good example of policies to build a better Europe and planet.  

Several other EU ambassadors and permanent representatives to FAO took the floor. They expressed appreciation to the Director-General for his intervention and reiterated their commitment to continue supporting FAO’s work towards transforming agri-food systems. Among the themes highlighted: the UN agency’s essential role in the fight against Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR); the importance of FAO-WHO-OIE Tripartite’s actions to reinforce the One Health approach; FAO’s technical, scientific and logistic support to the UN Food Systems Summit; the participation of the Director-General at the One Planet Summit and the Organization’s continued support to Africa’s Great Green Wall initiative; the Hand-in-Hand Initiative; and FAO’s effective COVID-19 Response and Recovery Programme.