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FAO hails partnership potential with civil society

Director-General meets with civil society and indigenous leaders to discuss progress towards Zero Hunger target

12 October, 2019, Rome -Partnerships at multiple levels are critical to achieving a world without hunger, FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu said Saturday at a meeting with leading exponents of civil society and indigenous peoples representing small scale food producers and family farmers.

"We need all of civil society to play an active role", the Director-General said in wide-ranging remarks underscoring the need to improve global food systems. "FAO is here to help you."

He addressed the annual Forum of the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples' Mechanism (CSM), a vehicle for the participation of non-governmental actors in policy formulation at the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), itself a multistakeholder platform. Today's event focused on how to strengthen commitments to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2, also known as Zero Hunger.

A cornerstone of effective action means making sure "family farmers are the final beneficiaries," Qu added, noting that the UN Decade of Family Farming  offers a great opportunity to implement and leverage ideas and recommendations made by CFS.

He emphasized the importance of learning and working together for concrete solutions with "interaction, brainstorming and open minds." In this context, digital solutions can play a decisive role in improving the livelihoods of small scale and vulnerable food producers, particularly in relation to the impacts of climate change, according to the Director-General.

Qu also emphasized that FAO would pioneer youth and women engagement initiatives at all levels and highlighted the positive way that FAO's Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) helps generate economic value, knowledge and rural-development solutions.

"We need to defeat hunger and poverty, which are inextricably linked," said CFS Chair Mario Arvelo. "We need to use every tool in the toolbox, as the Director-General said."

CFS itself needs to continually expand its inclusiveness, Arvelo added.

Today's meeting

The CSM is a self-organized body designed to give smallholder family farmers, non-governmental organizations, Indigenous Peoples, fisherfolks, herders, youth, consumers and other global citizens a voice in the work of the upcoming session of CFS, which starts on 14 October and lasts throughout the week.

The CSM's main message to the upcoming CFS session, which starts on Monday 14 October, is that "the possibility of attaining zero hunger is becoming more and more unlikely" and that policy initiatives need not just to be accelerated but to change direction.

The group noted with approval CFS progress in thematic areas such youth employment in agriculture and food systems and reiterated its priorities in the ongoing process of developing Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition, an exercise expected to be completed in 2020.

Among the panelists alongside FAO's Director-General at Saturday's event were Silvia Dywilli from the World March of Women, Nettie Wiebe of La Via Campesina, Azra Sayeed of the International Women's Alliance and Musa Sowe of ROPPA, organizations representing a broad array of global regions.

Photo: ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano
From left: Azra Sayeed, Sylvia Dywilli, FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu, CFS Chair Mario Arvelo, Nettie Wiebe and Musa Sowe.

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