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



Dr. QU Dongyu

10 December 2020

As delivered


Distinguished Guests,

Dear Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. The Small Island Developing States (SIDS) face unique vulnerabilities and challenges.  

2. Climate change, geographic and economic isolation, insufficient land resources and a drastic change in diets have contributed to an increase in malnutrition and non-communicable diseases across the SIDS.

3. The COVID-19 pandemic has further aggravated their pressing challenges.

4. Today’s event is part of our broader efforts to support these countries and confirm the commitment from UN Family, the international community, and from our partner the European Union (EU).

5. We are displaying several videos of our excellent collaboration with the SIDS in all the regions of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. 

6. Just to name some of these projects:

  • the Support to Rural Entrepreneurship, Investment and Trade in Papua New Guinea Project,
  • the Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific Project, 
  • the Action against Desertification,
  • the Sustainable Wildlife Management, and 
  • the EU emergency and relief support to Hurricane Harold.

 Ladies and Gentlemen, 

7. The Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States of 2014 had an overarching theme: "The sustainable development of Small Island developing States through genuine and durable partnerships".

8. FAO is proud of its genuine, durable and consolidated partnership with the SIDS.

9. The SAMOA Pathway called for concerted global action for the SIDS.

10. And FAO was invited to facilitate the development of an action plan to address food security and nutrition challenges faced by these States.

11. As a result, and through an inclusive process, in 2017, FAO and other partners launched the Global Action Program on Food Security and Nutrition in Small Island Developing States (GAP).

12. GAP aims to facilitate a comprehensive multi-sectoral approach to identifying and implementing priority actions at the local, regional and global levels

13. We are currently working on outlining a definition of resilient agri-food systems, which will allow for even more focused work under the GAP.

14. This definition will be included in the 2021 edition of FAO’s flagship report, the State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA).

Ladies and Gentlemen,

15. The high priority FAO is giving to the SIDS is reflected in our concrete actions.  

16. In September 2019, we launched FAO’s flagship Hand-in-Hand Initiative (HiH), which envisages accelerating agricultural transformation and sustainable rural development through a country-led, country-owned and evidence-based process. 

17. HIH prioritizes the most vulnerable countries, including those affected by natural or human-induced crises. 

18. HiH is already active in seven Small Island Developing States.

19. In the SIDS, the HiH Initiative is using a territorial approach to prioritize the investments required for increasing incomes of poor farmers within the framework of sustainable agri-food systems. 

20. In January this year, I established the Office of Small Island Developing States, Least Developed Countries and Landlocked Developing Countries to coordinate in-house crosscutting actions in support of these countries. That is first in UN professional entities.

21. HiH and our work in the SIDs are also directly linked to FAO’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Programme launched in July 2020.

22. This program focuses on immediate, medium and longer-term actions to prevent the health crisis from becoming a food crisis. 

23. It is a holistic approach, designed to strengthen countries’ resilience and build back better towards transforming agri-food systems, in their specific contexts.  

Distinguished Guests,

24. During the COVID-19 pandemic, FAO has continued to advocate for food security and nutrition in the SIDS. I call upon all SIDS to join 1000 digital villages Initiative to integrate value chains of agriculture with tourism. 

25. Action, policy options and investment plans are worked out with our partners. 

26. The SIDS and FAO will continue to work jointly on making agri-food systems more inclusive, resilient and sustainable, thereby combating hunger, malnutrition and poverty among the vulnerable populations. 

27. We believe that their needs must to be prioritized in the global development agenda. Let isolated SIDS become hub of agri-food systems transformation.

28. Let us work together for a better future of SIDS by the “four betters”: better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life. Then we are able to build back better and stronger in SIDS.

Thank you.