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

SOFI: Transforming food systems Hand-in-Hand to deliver affordable healthy diets in Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS)

13 July 2020 

Organized by the UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (OHRLLS) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with the Chairs of the LDC Group, LLDC Group and AOSIS

Opening remarks of  

Dr. QU Dongyu 


The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations




Ladies and Gentlemen,



1. Thank you for joining this important seminar, where we will take a close look at the current hunger situation and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout on the countries that have been most affected – and that have the least capacity to respond on their own: 

The Least Developed Countries, the Land-locked Developing States and the Small Island Developing States.

2. Over the past five years, tens of millions of people have joined the ranks of the undernourished. In 2019, 10 more million people went hungry and in the last 5 years 60 more million people.

3. 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. 

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

5. While the full impact of COVID-19 on food security is yet to be seen, more than 100 million people could be pushed into hunger this year, and the nutritional status of the most vulnerable groups is also likely to deteriorate. 

6. This meeting is not an academic exercise. It is meant to be a precursor to action.

7. And so, I would like to frame this discussion with three concepts that I hope can help move us to action: Solidarity, Urgency, and Hand-in-Hand.

8. The first is solidarity, which describes a distinctive, and very human feeling and quality.

9. It is rooted in our ability, when we are at our best, to feel empathy towards others very different from ourselves, and in particular toward others who are suffering.

10. The global crisis has shown us why collective action worldwide is essential to combat a global pandemic and a global economic crisis.  

11. But the crisis has also shown us that we cannot sustain collective action unless we are motivated by solidarity, by empathy for others.

12. Urgency is the second theme I wish to highlight. 

13. The picture we are going to explore today is grim, but far from hopeless.

14. Our colleagues will describe specific actions that can be taken to anticipate coming challenges, and start now to build a different future for food – a future with less poverty and inequality, a future that makes healthy diets reliably accessible to all, a future in which food systems are in balance with nature, a future of food that is more resilient.

15. We have a window to act, but it is small. We need to act quickly to mobilize the support that is necessary.

16. The resources – intellectual, financial, and material – are not lacking, but unless we are well-organized and coordinated, the probability is that we will be too late and too ineffective for too many people in the LDCs, the LLDCs and the SIDS.

17. This leads to my third concept: Hand-in-Hand, as the material and active expression of solidarity and urgency. 

18. At its core the Hand-in-Hand approach seeks to bring the best the world has to offer – in evidence, knowledge, science, know-how, technology, innovation and investment – motivated by a spirit of solidarity and of respect and care for the dignity of others.

19. Hand-in-Hand is a specific way of using and sharing data and science-based analysis to determine where and how action can be targeted to have the greatest impacts on poverty and hunger.

20. It is also a way of promoting more ambitious and capable collective action among Members and their development partners.

21. Hand-in-Hand is not about what FAO can do, but about what we can all do by working together, by being transparent to each other, and by believing that our actions matter.

22. I ask you to think about the meaning of these three words – Solidarity, Urgency, and Hand-in-Hand – as we go through this webinar.  

Thank you.