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COP25: Strengthening South-South Climate Cooperation in Supporting Low-carbon and Green Economy Transition of Developing Countries

Madrid, Spain

11 December 2019

 

Excellencies, 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Mr Xie Zhenhua has been my friend for many years since I was Vice Minister of China on Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

I am so honored to be here today with you.

I would like to thank the Ministry of Ecology and Environment of China and the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation for co-organizing this important event.

Four years ago, the international community envisioned a world free of hunger and poverty with the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. With just 10 years left to go, we are in a little bit of a hurry.

Today, one person in nine goes hungry, with two billion experiencing moderate or severe food insecurity. Most of them live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for income and food.

At the same time, climate change is compromising agricultural production, especially for vulnerable people, who are more exposed, less resilient and have fewer coping mechanisms.

Climate change could push an additional 122 million people into extreme poverty by 2030.

And while agriculture contributes almost one quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives in agriculture hold some of the greatest potential in the transition to low-carbon and green economies.

This is where South-South and triangular cooperation can be a game changer as they provide management models to promote change and reform, on the policy front and in the institutional arena and at the grassroots level.

FAO’s South-South and triangular cooperation works across all these levels.

On the policy front, high-level political dialogues between countries are useful for climate change mitigation and adaptation policies and can also help position low-carbon and green economy issues on political agendas.

In the institutional arena, it enables collaboration in research and development among Southern institutions, critical for innovative climate solutions.

At the grassroots level, Southern experts from other countries foster capacity building for the uptake of technologies and sustainable agricultural models and practices.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

For over 40 years, South-South and triangular cooperation has been core to FAO’s business model.

Thanks to the support of the Chinese government and others, we have raised over USD 370 million for South-South and triangular cooperation projects, fielding over 2,000 experts to 80 countries. Currently, we have 40 ongoing projects.

Early this year in March we celebrated the 40th year anniversary for South-South cooperation in Argentina. After 40 years, we have to restart again. There is a Chinese proverb that says if you have lived 30 years on the east bank then you have 40 years on the west. Now we are starting another west bank life.

Our largest South-South Cooperation partner, China, donated USD 80 million, benefitting 70,000 farmers directly, and more than 3 million indirectly. Chinese experts have introduced more than 450 low-cost scalable technologies and over 300 crop varieties and animal breeds to partner countries.

FAO also has strong partnerships with Brazil, Mexico and Morocco, as well as with traditional donors such as Japan, the Netherlands and the Republic of Korea. And also just before this meeting, I signed an agreement with the German Government of USD 20 million dollars to support cooperation, mainly triangular cooperation for the South.

Experiences on low emission and climate resilient pathways have been fruitful. For example:

  • Rice-fish culture from China was introduced in Nigeria in Africa, doubling rice and tilapia production in some regions. Similar results were obtained in Malawi, Mali, Senegal and Uganda.
  • In Mongolia, greenhouse technologies from Chinese experts helped prolong planting seasons and crop diversification. Smart irrigation, water management technologies and soil management practices helped stabilize production and reduce climate risks.
  • Morocco’s long experience in soil and water management has been shared with other African countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have solutions, but for impact we need to scale and speed up as well because time is short.

For this FAO has four pillars for action:

One: Improve farmers’ access to digital technologies.

Digital technologies can boost efficiency and effectiveness of farming, helping farmers monitor soil and plant parameters with great precision, providing timely market information, and new trade and market opportunities through e-commerce platforms.

Last year in China, the amount of all the fresh products from farmers that were sold online reached 300 billion yuan. So it’s a huge opportunity for smallholder farmers that can sell directly from farms to fork.

Promoting digital agriculture and digital rural development is one of my key priorities. That is why earlier this week, the first of December, we launched the Digital FAO so now you can search all of the information on Digital FAO and promote your products, services and even beautiful pictures on FAO website. So it’s not the traditional web.

Second, broaden partnerships with diverse development actors.

FAO will expand existing partnerships with all developing member countries and triangular cooperation partners.

We have an ambitious target of creating up to 200 partnerships with academic and research institutions.

Third, improve the quality of solution exchanges to catalyze private sector investment.

South-South and triangular cooperation can help translate development needs into attractive market opportunities for private sectors in climate-friendly food and agriculture, providing the evidence-base for private sector engagement in profitable activities.

Forth, increase high-impact innovative South-South and triangular cooperation initiatives.

FAO recently launched the “Hand-in-Hand Initiative”, an innovative business model that matches donors and recipients to promote action to transform agricultural and food systems.

We had a lot of positive reaction from Member Countries on the one hand. And we have donor countries that can help the recipient countries. We are focusing on the vulnerable countries and vulnerable people. I recognize that the Under Secretary of the Office of the of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and the Small Island Developing States is also here. We work closely with members and also with the international community like the World Bank and WHO or even IEA. This morning I had a meeting with them. And we also want to work with the private sector, academic institutions, universities and so on, so we are really building up the collective synergy to help vulnerable people in the vulnerable regions. This helps to scale up and speed up the SDG implementation and then we can have good results and performances before 2030.

So for that, I am really fully engaged, and I cooperate with the Chinese Government and others to transfer the experiences from South countries to the countries who need.

Join the force, join the action and we will expect to have a bright future for the South people who need.

Thank you for attention.

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