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

Webinar with Spain, Costa Rica and the Private Sector 

Forest and soils to help the planet

Wednesday, 2 December 2020 

Speech by the FAO Director-General, Dr QU Dongyu

As prepared

 

 

Your Excellency, First Vice President of the Government of Spain,

Your Excellency, Vice President of Costa Rica, 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. By 2050, the world’s population will be close to 10 billion people. We will need to feed them and at the same time cut down CO2 emissions. 

2. Currently, agriculture, forestry and other land uses account for 23 percent of man-made greenhouse gases.

3. We need new approaches for land use that increase productivity while avoiding soil degradation and pollution and protecting ecosystems and biodiversity.

4. This means that we urgently need to transform our agri-food systems. 

5. Adopting agroforestry and other production practices, cooperating with the private sector, harnessing the power of innovation and digital technologies, reducing food loss and waste and restoring the productivity of degraded agricultural lands are all actions that urgently need to be scaled up.

6. There is room for that, FAO experts estimated that from the 2 billion hectares of degraded land in the world, about 900 million could be restored with grassland, agroforestry and reforestation. 

7. These actions will not only mitigate climate change, but they will also create much needed rural jobs and help build back better after the COVID-19 pandemic

8. Additionally, FAO has documented that over 20 developing countries have been able to significantly increase the production of food while managing their forests in a sustainable way.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

9. More than 120 countries are committed to becoming CO2 neutral between 2050 and 2060. That is an enormous challenge, but not an impossible one. 

10. FAO is helping many of them reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

11. FAO is also supporting the fight against climate change through its new initiative on Recarbonization of Agricultural Soils: RECSOIL. A new methodology to measure monitor, verify and report CO2 sequestration in soils. 

12. I am happy to note that we are currently working with Costa Rica, Mexico and other Latin American countries in projects to avoid CO2 emissions from soils, sequester more CO2 in soils and enhance the provision of ecosystem services and multiple benefits for all. 

13. Farmers are at the centre of this transformation and they require technical support and financial incentives to transform agro-food systems and at the same mitigate climate change and build resilience. 

14. We need to enhance our work with national government authorities, international organizations, academic institutions, the private sector, and rural communities including small farmers and pastoralists at local level.

15. We need to use innovative solutions and jointly turn agricultural soils into an opportunity for villages and rural communities to become more sustainable, more resilient, produce nutritious, diverse and safe food and ensure a better life for everyone. 

16. We need to fully engage with rural communities – especially with women and youth. 

17. I am happy that FAO and GCF are supporting the Costa Rican government to start 200 land-restoration projects lead by women. I know Vice President Campbell is a leader in this effort and congratulate her for that.

18. I look forward to visiting Costa Rica and witnessing many success stories of sustainable agriculture in the future. 

19. Last December, during my visit to Spain, I had the pleasure to meet with Her Majesty Queen Letizia and Spain’s Prime Minister H.E. Pedro Sánchez to discuss the important role of women and youth in using digital technologies to promote agricultural and rural development. 

20. In the last two years, FAO designated 4 Spanish rural sites as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS). I look forward to visiting some when condition allows doing so, as I could see great potentials for these Spanish GIAHS sites to be part of a global effort to revitalize rural areas. 

21. I know Vice President Ribera is a leader committed to working to attract young people back to rural areas, closing the equity gap between urban and rural regions.

Ladies and gentlemen,

22. We are proposing concrete actions to bring about large-scale transformative changes to improve food security, nutrition and the well-being of people in rural areas.

23. We are kick-starting the “1 000 Digital Villages Initiative”. 

24. This Initiative will enable farmers to use digital technologies, information and communication tools including social media, to promote local sustainable development.

25. Digital technologies can raise economic benefits and contribute to food security by increasing the productivity of agricultural sectors, enhancing market opportunities through E-commerce and access to market information, facilitating the inclusion of farmers in value chains.

26. The initiative will also have social and cultural benefits. Increased income, communication and information could improve the living standards of rural villages.

27. Through the Initiative, a tailor-made menu for assistance in the area of digital innovation can be made according to the requests and situations of the sites, including for GIAHS sites. 

28. Starting with 100 villages around the world, we hope to have 1000 digital villages join this initiative by 2030.

29. In my previous role as a provincial leader in China, I experienced first-hand; how fruitful partnerships with the private sector enable rural dwellers to increase their well-being and happiness through the adoption of digital technologies.

30. This week, we have submitted a Strategy for Private Sector Engagement 2021-2025 for endorsement by the FAO Council.

31. The proposed Strategy will enable us, to improve and strengthen our support to our Members and enhance our strategic engagement with the private sector, to scale up and steer all our efforts to jointly achieve the SDGs. 

32. In this regard, I look forward to the full support from Spain and Costa Rica in advancing this agenda. 

Ladies and gentlemen,

33. For agriculture to become much greener, more resilient and regenerative, we need to rethink the way we produce, distribute and consume food.

34. With only ten years left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we need a fundamental change of our mind-set to remodel our business approaches.

35. A new way of thinking that leads to integrated and coordinated actions by all stakeholders both vertically from national to local - and horizontally across institutions and sectors.

36. The joint efforts of Costa Rica and Spain are an excellent step in this direction.

37. Let us roll up our sleeves and work together for better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life: for a better future.

Thank you!

Send
Print