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

Opening Remarks by

Dr QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General

Launch of the Food Coalition 

5 November 2020 

As delivered


Your Excellency, Mr. Giuseppe Conte, Prime Minister of Italy,

Your Excellency, Ms. Carola Schouten, Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands,

Distinguished delegates,  

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I am pleased to join you for the official launch of the Food Coalition.

2. I consider today’s event another important step in the transformations we are implementing in FAO. 

3. We are focused on result-oriented innovative solutions and committed to developing smart and transformational partnerships.

4. We know that we must increase the exchange of knowledge and leverage global momentum to promote food security and nutrition.

5. We launch the Food Coalition at a time of new and unprecedented challenges: the global COVID-19 pandemic, which is affecting our agri-food systems and all dimensions of food security.

6. Across the world, countries have to make sure that food value chains continue to function well and that agricultural labour force and poor consumer, both rural and urban, are not pushed beyond the poverty line.


7. In a remarkably short period, the pandemic has changed so much for all of us.  It has changed the way we work, the way we plan, the way we meet, the way we coordinate and the way we prioritize. 

8. The pandemic has reached every part of the world, impacting health systems worldwide and posing threats to both lives and livelihoods.

9. It is prompting all of us to fundamentally rethink what we consider business as usual, to adopt a holistic perspective and to act in a joint and coordinated way.

10. The COVID-19 crisis will have long-term effects on food and nutrition security.  It has already resulted in multiple disruptions in food systems that affect food production, health of farmers, access to agricultural inputs, access to markets, rural jobs and livelihoods, and a decrease in both rural and urban demand of food. 

11. Our most recent assessment suggests that the pandemic may add up to 132 million more people to the ranks of the undernourished in the world this year.

12. FAO started raising awareness from the onset of the pandemic to alert leaders and decision makers to the danger of a looming food emergency.

13. And we called for increased solidarity and cooperation – as this virus does not stop at borders or differentiate between rich and poor.

14. I was particularly pleased to see that Italy was among the first countries in responding to our call, by proposing for FAO to lead the efforts to establish a Food Coalition. 

15. The aim is to build a global alliance with a network of national governments, international organizations, thought leaders, civil societies and private sector working together for a unified global action.

16. The intent is to help countries prevent the health crisis from becoming a food security crisis, through the mobilization of public opinion, technical skills, resources, and promotion of innovation.

17. I warmly welcome the initiative of our host country, Italy, and efforts of other nations to support the activation of the Food Coalition.

18. Because unprecedented situations, like the one we are living through now, require decisive and far-sighted responses.

19. And I am pleased to acknowledge that pledges for the Food Coalition currently amount to around USD 2.2 million, with USD 1.2 million already deployed by Italy.

20. The Food Coalition will expand our shared partnership and advocacy base for a longer term impact, in support of FAO’s comprehensive COVID-19 Response and Recovery Programme and the Hand-in-Hand Initiative.

21. The Food Coalition will raise awareness among key decision- and policy-makers on the importance of a strengthened and transformed food system to avoid another food crisis.

22. It will call upon stakeholders of all kinds – academic thought leaders, researchers and scientists, farmer organizations, private sector and civil society representatives, parliamentarians – to join our collective work to leave no one behind.

23. In this respect, Nobel Laureates are among the distinguished advocates for the collective COVID-19 response and the efforts of the Food Coalition.

24. We are particularly honoured to have today with us Tawakkol Karman and Muhammad Yunus, who I thank for their support.

25. Together, the Food Coalition and the FAO-Nobel Peace Laureates Alliance will attract new members, link with other prominent personalities and experts, and help us attract the most innovative thinking and solutions.  


Distinguished Guests, Dear Friends,

26. Facing the COVID19 crisis together, means reaffirming our strong belief in the power of multilateralism and the spirit of international cooperation.

27. This is the global commitment to eliminate hunger and malnutrition, from which we draw our hope and our determination to achieve SDG2 and leave no one behind.

28. Because, we drink water from the same river and we enjoy the sunshine under only one sky.

29. I look forward to celebrating with you, in the near future, the achievements of the Food Coalition and its contribution to an agile and coordinated global response.

Thank you