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

Everyone Around the Table: Private Sector on Healthy Diets

Virtual Roundtable 1 – July 21, 2020

Opening remarks

As prepared

 

 

Dr Lawrence Haddad, Executive Director of GAIN, and 2018 World Food Prize recipient,

Excellencies, Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen!

1. It is my pleasure to address you in this virtual roundtable convened by FAO and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) on the theme: Everyone Around the Table: Private Sector on Healthy Diets.

2. This is the first in a series of 3 Roundtables.

3. The objective of these events is to discuss how the private sector can engage strategically in transforming our food systems to deliver healthy diets.

4. I also am very pleased that FAO has partnered with the GAIN in this event. 

5. GAIN’s vision of a world in which all people consume nutritious and safe food aligns with FAO’s vision of a world without hunger and malnutrition.

6. In 2019, FAO organized a Symposium on the Future of Food which focused on the contribution of the scientific communities to addressing the challenges of the food systems through scientific innovations.

7. Knowing the crucial role that Private Sector plays in food systems, this year, we are focusing on the private sector’s contribution to food systems transformation for healthy diets.

8. Last week, FAO and partners launched the State of Food Security and Nutrition Report 2020 (SOFI) on the theme “Transforming food systems for affordable healthy diets”.

9. SOFI 2020 shows that 10 million more people became undernourished with respect to 2018, and 60 more million did so in the last 5 years.

10. This was before COVID-19!

11. We now expect between 83 and 132 million people to be added to the world’s undernourished population, due to the pandemic.

12. The report also points out that three billion people globally cannot afford healthy diets.

13. This is an unacceptable situation!

14. The findings of the SOFI report are very relevant to the discussions we are going to have in the next three days.

15. FAO’s commitment in improving healthy diets is captured in our current biennial theme “Promoting healthy diets and preventing all forms of malnutrition”.

16. The food systems transformation we are calling for must link solutions of food insecurity to increased access to healthy diets.

17. Food systems must be transformed to be resilient and sustainable; and with a focus on quality diets.

18. This food systems transformation requires all actors to step up, and play a more active role.

19. FAO recognizes that the private sector, from farmers, to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and larger companies, is at the heart of food systems, and is instrumental in driving these transformations. 

20. FAO is currently revising its strategy for engagement with the private sector.

21. We are doing this through an open and interactive consultation process with different private sector entities providing us with useful inputs to consider going forward.

22. Over the next three days, we will have a dialogue on the role the private sectors can play in delivering healthy diets, with special focus on MSMEs.

23. In addition to representing the largest portion of the private sectors, MSMEs play a key role in contributing to rural and economic development, provide important employment opportunities and offer the much-needed market linkages for farmers. 

24. COVID-19 showed how vulnerable MSMEs are.

25. They have been the hardest hit by COVID-19 and many have lost their businesses.

26. Our discussions should also address how MSMEs can be supported to have viable businesses that can contribute to healthy diets.

27. To ensure a fruitful dialogue, our roundtable discussions will be multistakeholder in nature, bringing together government representatives, businesses, producer organizations and MSMEs to discuss how businesses can contribute to deliver healthy diets for all.

28. We hope that at the end of the 3 roundtable discussions we are able to come to agreement on key recommendations to scale-up actions and commitments for this agenda.

29. I invite you to join us in thinking together, working together, learning together and contributing together for a better tomorrow.

Thank you!

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