Director-General  QU Dongyu
A statement by FAO Director-General QU Dongyu

Remarks by Dr. QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General

SOFI 2020: Transforming Food Systems for Affordable Healthy Diets

Launch at the margins of the HLPF.

New York, 13 July 2020

 As prepared


Heads of Partner Agencies,
Permanent Representatives,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. On behalf of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and together with our partner agencies, I am pleased to present to you the 2020 edition of The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World.

2. This is the fourth time we produce this report jointly, which reaffirms our commitment to work together to overcome the challenges of freeing the world from hunger, food insecurity and all forms of malnutrition.

3. This is also the second time the report is launched at the margins of the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) discussions.

4. The theme of this year’s report Transforming food systems for affordable healthy diets is especially relevant to the theme of this year’s HLPF “Accelerated action and transformative pathways: realizing the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development”.


5. Five years have passed since the world committed to the goal of ending hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in all its forms.

6. We only have ten more years to prove that our commitment and actions were bold enough.

7. This report clearly states that TODAY we are not on track to eradicate hunger, food insecurity and all forms of malnutrition by 2030. And we will need to redouble efforts, given the challenges brought about by COVID-19.

8. The pandemic poses a threat to food security and nutrition. This is one of the topline messages of the Secretary-General’s Policy Brief on “The Impact of COVID-19 on Food Security and Nutrition”.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

9. This report reminds us all that our efforts need to be bolder.

10. In the past five years 60 million joined the ranks of the undernourished; in 2019 alone, 10 more million people went hungry. This is unacceptable!

11. Globally, the burden of malnutrition in all its forms also remains a challenge and the world is not on track to achieve the 2025 and 2030 targets.

12. In some areas, such as adult overweight and obesity, we are actually moving in the wrong direction in all regions.

13. While the full impact of COVID-19 on food security is yet to be seen, between 83 and 132 more millions of people could be pushed into hunger this year, and the nutritional status of the most vulnerable groups is also likely to deteriorate.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

14. In spite of these challenges, we know where to act and how!

15. People in all regions of the world are suffering from hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition because they cannot afford the cost of healthy diets, especially the poor.  

16. To be precise, more than 3 billion people in the world cannot afford a healthy diet, which is disappointing if we consider the world produces enough food to feed its entire population.

17. A healthy diet can cost five times more than diets that meet only dietary energy needs through a starchy staple.

18. We must ensure healthy diets are affordable for everyone!

19. At the same time, the SDGs challenge us to think “out of the box” and see how our efforts towards one goal enable progress towards other goals.

20. Our dietary choices are not protecting us against non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and are contributing to the cost of environmental degradation.

21. This report shows that shifting to healthy diets that are environmentally sustainable can contribute substantially to reducing health and climate-change costs by 2030.

22. Such a shift will not only help eradicate food insecurity and malnutrition (SDG 2), but it will also generate important synergies for ensuring healthy lives (SDG 3) and taking urgent action to combat climate change (SDG 13). 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

23. For these potential gains for people and the planet to materialize, we must ensure that the cost of nutritious foods goes down.

24. We know that the factors driving the cost of nutritious food upwards exist throughout the food system.

25. We must transform our food systems to reduce the cost of nutritious foods and ensure everybody can afford a healthy diet all over the world.

26. Globally, I am confident that the policy recommendations emanating from this report will contribute to setting the agenda for the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit.

27. At country level, governments must act, taking into consideration their specific context, as there is no one-size-fits-all solution to achieve transformation.

28. FAO, its partners in this report, and the UN as a whole, are here to help them in their actions.

29. Thank you