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

Opening remarks by Dr QU Dongyu,

FAO Director-General 

Our Basic Texts: “Raising levels of Nutrition” - FAO’s contribution to Global Nutrition

14 December 2020

As prepared



Distinguished Guests,

Dear Colleagues, 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. It is my pleasure to be with you today to discuss FAO’s contribution to global nutrition through one of the first sentences in the basic texts – ‘raising levels of nutrition’.

2. This text was adopted as the first core action included in the Preamble of the FAO Constitution when the Organization was founded, 75 years ago.

3. It is clear that nutrition has been at the forefront of FAO’s mission from the beginning.

4. Since I took over as Director-General, I have encouraged my staff and our Members to get familiar with FAO’s basic texts- which show the reason why this great organization was established, the roots of our mandate - our original aspiration. 

5. The first Director-General of FAO, Sir Boyd-Orr, was a pioneer in the field of nutrition studies and one of the first scientists to identify the link between poverty and poor nutrition. 

6. The 2020 State of Food Security and Nutrition Report, SOFI, showed that 3 billion people cannot afford a healthy diet. 

7. Better nutrition, alongside better production, a better environment, and a better life – the Four Betters– are FAO’s aspirations for the new Strategic Framework under development to support the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. 

8. Better nutrition is needed today more than ever.

9. Better nutrition not only means quantitatively, but also qualitatively and scientific nutrition formulas. 

10. Keeping the balance at different physiological stages of the human being and in respect of different cultures. 

11. Balancing our food with the nutritional formulas that are scientifically evidence-based.

12. Nutrition should be running through the main lines of agriculture and food. Because what we eat is nutrition. 

13. Many Members face multiple types of malnutrition at the same time. 

14. So the challenge comes in different dimensions: The undernutrition or micronutrient deficiency together with the growing epidemic of overweight and obesity. 

15. Ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030 is still an immense challenge and we are not on track to achieve the related targets of SDG 2.

16. SOFI 2020 shows that world hunger is still increasing.

17. The nutritional status of the most vulnerable population groups in the world is likely to deteriorate further, due to the health and socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

18. Over 2 billion people do not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food.

19. Unhealthy diets are now the leading risk factor for deaths from non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.

20. We need to transform our agri-food systems to deliver the healthy diets required for a better life. 

21. Unfortunately, nutritious foods, especially fruits, vegetables, dairy and other protein-rich foods, which are the basic ingredients of a healthy diet, are too expensive for most of the world’s vulnerable populations. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

22. For decades hunger has been addressed by policies that aimed to increase food production, especially of staple crops with less focus on the production of nutritious foods. 

23. While increased food production is good, countries should aim to produce and also invest in the production of more nutritious foods and put policies in place to make them more affordable. 

24. Let’s not forget that adequate nutrition is part of the definition of food security, ―”Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”. (World Food Summit 1996)

25. The affordability of nutritious foods is a key factor affecting food security and consequently, access to healthy diets.

26. Preserving access to safe, diverse and nutritious food is and will continue to be an essential part of the FAO’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for poor and vulnerable communities.

27. Our COVID-19 Response and Recovery Programme provides an agile and coordinated global response to ensure nutritious foods for all both during and after the pandemic.

28. As part of this Programme, collecting, analyzing, interpreting and disseminating information related to nutrition, food and agriculture will be given great attention. This is one of the broad objectives to raise nutrition levels.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

29. Our vision and strategy of work on nutrition is firmly anchored in the concept of sustainable agri-food systems.

30. Our vision for nutrition is “a world where all people are eating healthy diets from sustainable food systems”.

31. And FAO’s mission in nutrition is to tackle malnutrition in all its forms by accelerating impactful policies and actions across agri-food systems to enable healthy diets for all – raising levels of nutrition for all everywhere and at all times. 

32. Before closing, I would like to acknowledge Dr Anna Lartey, Director of the Food and Nutrition Division. Anna is retiring and I would like to seize this opportunity to thank her in the name of all colleagues at FAO for her years of service. You will always have friends and family here at FAO! 

Thank you!