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

75th session of the UN General Assembly
High-Level Virtual Side Event of the Global Network against Food Crises

 “Food Crises and COVID-19 - emerging evidence and implications for action”

15 September 2020

Intervention by FAO Director-General, QU Dongyu

As delivered



Good afternoon from Rome.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Distinguished delegates,

I have been listening carefully to my colleagues, and my friend Mark Lowcock, and others from the USAID and also the special envoy, Nick. And we have to focus on action.

I would like to thank you for the partners, the sponsors of this event for their longstanding support. And also, I listen to videos from the EU. What I fully agree with Mark, is we need a holistic design between the humanitarian aid and the development and peace rebuilding up.

So, we use the innovative way and also we should use a diversified approach – not doing business as usual. The situation is already there. I don’t want to repeat again because the 2020 Global Report on Food Crises revealed that the situation was already critical at the end of 2019. But now what is the new solution with your new support? And I come up with a thought as three suggestions for the big donors:

First, we need to differentiate the situation globally. That’s why the FAO we started the Hand-In-Hand Initiative. We started focussing on the vulnerable part of the world. It’s 44 countries plus some conflicting, food insecure, serious crisis countries, 53 in total. So, there we can really solve the most vulnerable parts with a new approach.

Second, I think also we also need the Big Data because two guests already talked about data. Now FAO since I come, day one, I build a digital FAO and first started in August 2019. So now we already have a big platform for the Geospatial Big Data Platform not only from FAO, from all the UN system agencies and some famous academic institutions, and even NGOs. So, I think we can really get all the data more traceable, more reliable. And for data, I think we are open.

Tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, I will also have a co-operative dialogue with Google. So, we want to get a more inclusive platform and also the latest Council of FAO endorsed the establishment of  an International Platform for Digital Food and Agriculture. So that is also an open platform, considering your concerns about data privacy, data collection, data cleaning, data erasing, and data traceability and analysing. Data is a resource that we have to maybe use more properly.

Third, I think it is about how to establish an early warning and early action mechanism. That’s very crucial. Nowadays we try to do our best to avoid a food crisis. So that’s why I always keep saying trade should be functional, international trade should be functional, supply channels should be more resilient. More importantly, we have to support the countries and farmers that can produce more locally. Because it’s more realistic that they can get food nearby. That’s a way you can bring seeds to them, bring agriculture inputs to them so that they can produce locally. For most vulnerable countries and much isolated communities, this is very crucial. To achieve that, all of us will have to work on the same page, trying our best to prevent the food crisis, not only for this year, but for the coming two years.

The challenges are daunting. The pressure is for all of us. Let’s work together, contribute together.

At FAO we need your support. I am willing to work with all my colleagues, from WFP, OCHA and others. Let’s do our best to keep the human beings more healthy and safe, and have more nutritious food.

Thank you, over to you.