Committee on World Food Security

Making a difference in food security and nutrition

10 March 2022 | Remarks by CFS Chair at the 36th FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific

10 Mar 2022

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Honourable Ministers,



I am delighted to be here at the Ministerial meeting of the 36th Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific. It is my pleasure to address you today.

I thank the Government and people of Bangladesh for hosting us in their capital city of Dhaka, with special thanks to the Honourable Minister Dr Muhammad Abdur Razzaque, our gracious host.

I would like to start by expressing my deep gratitude to the FAO Director-General QU Dongyu for inviting me as Chairperson of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) to attend this Regional Conference like he has done for the other Regional Conferences.

We especially appreciate the essential support FAO provides to CFS, including on the dissemination at regional and country levels of the policy tools negotiated and adopted by CFS Members and Participants.

Director-General, I take this opportunity to once again assure you of our commitment to working towards the goal we share with FAO and with the entire UN system, of a world free from hunger, malnutrition and poverty – hand in hand. For Better production, better nutrition, better environment and better life.

We continue pursuing our shared aspiration of making CFS´s role better coordinated with and complementary to that of FAO as the UN’s specialized agency for food and agriculture, together with the other Rome-based Agencies and the UN System, as a whole.

Excellences, ladies and gentlemen,

We meet just over two years since the COVID-19 pandemic started. While it has devastated lives and worsened hunger and malnutrition –with up to an additional estimated 161 million people suffering from hunger- , the fact that we are meeting here in person in Dhaka highlights the slow but steady progress we are making to deal with the pandemic.

Regrettably, when we were starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel of the pandemic, we are concerned about the potential impact of the tragic armed conflict in Ukraine on increased food insecurity globally, when millions of people were already facing famine or the immediate risk of famine or are experiencing severe food insecurity in several regions of the world –especially in Asia.

Honourable Ministers, I commend the leadership that you and your countries have provided in dealing with COVID-19 and its impacts on your agrifood systems. I rest assured that you will exercise equally the leadership that the response to the impacts of this conflict on food security will require.


The Committee on World Food Security was established in 1974, and reformed in 2009, to serve as the intergovernmental body where governments and all the different stakeholders would gather to face the severe food crisis of those days and the long term challenges to achieve food security and nutrition for all. The space designed to coordinate our policies and agree on difficult issues.

I assure you, excellencies, that you may count on the platform of the CFS as a space to deliberate and coordinate the responses to the emerging challenges.

Today, 133 Members States of the UN use our platform to address complex food security and nutrition issues, achieved through sustainable and inclusive food systems. They do so along with civil society, the private sector, Indigenous Peoples and farmer organizations, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), international financial institutions (IFIs), and the United Nations Development System – notably, FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the World Food Programme (WFP), and UN Nutrition.

Since 2009, we have agreed at the CFS on Guidelines on Tenure; Principles of Responsible Agriculture Investments; and policy recommendations on climate change, water, connecting smallholders to markets and much more. Last year, CFS Members adopted Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition and Policy Recommendations on Agro-ecological and other Innovative Approaches.

This body of work has relevance to your efforts to address hunger and malnutrition. Let me suggest some examples of how these CFS policy tools and resources can assist you in dealing with the priority issues you will be discussing here this week.

First, action to promote climate resilient agrifood systems in Asia and the Pacific region

This region is among the most exposed and vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change. Meanwhile, agriculture methods, in their current state, are an important driver of that same climate change.

In this regard, I call to your attention CFS’ Policy Recommendations on Agroecological and Other Innovative Approaches endorsed in June 2021 to provide guidance to countries and stakeholders on the role of innovative approaches for sustainable agriculture and the food systems required to foster food security and nutrition.

These policy recommendations are a useful tool in supporting the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of biodiversity for food security and nutrition, including in the Pacific Islands, which is one of the topics you are looking at this week.

Second, on scaling up inclusive innovation, science and digitalization to transform agrifood systems in Asia and the Pacific region

Unfortunately, despite decades of innovation, and years of exponential progress of bio- and digital technologies applied to agriculture, our food systems face multiple, interconnected and complex challenges that require new thinking. While tech innovation has had very positive impacts within some of farms and businesses, they have clearly not worked for ALL people at scale, or for the overall benefit of the planet.

This is not due to unavailability of high-tech technologies; it is a problem of access and affordability by the vast majority of food producers –smallholders and family farmers that produce 80 percent of the world’s food. It is an issue of appropriate incentives, and regulatory and policy frameworks to enable scaling-up of technologies for positive impact.

To bring together technology innovation, equality of access and scale, we need a broader innovation in the way we govern of our food systems, locally, nationally and globally: what I like to refer to as ‘governance innovation.’ 

The CFS is an example of governance innovation since its reform, taking a multi-sectoral and inclusive approach - reflecting the unique multi-stakeholder and integrated nature of agri-food systems as well as a people-centered approach.

Third, on the One Health priorities in Asia and the Pacific region

The CFS is building COVID-19 considerations into all of its policy convergence work.  The CFS HLPE produced a timely and useful Issues Paper on the pandemic, updated to reflect changes since its outbreak. We will also make this topic a key part of our annual plenary in October, along with rising food prices and structural inequalities that put food and healthy diets out of reach of billions. A new approach to issues of Gender Equality and Youth engagement are both critical to effective policy response and are on the CFS agenda.


Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

The CFS policy guidelines I highlighted are negotiated and agreed upon in an inclusive process that engages your senior officials in capitals and your representatives in Rome.

As such, these are your resources, your policy instruments to be adopted and utilized in the formulation of policies, strategies, legislation, regulatory frameworks and business models.

Director-General QU and I have discussed how CFS can better serve as an intergovernmental and inclusive platform, striving for more effective outreach and impact, with stronger links to the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31 and in close collaboration with its field network.

I am committed to this and look to you, our Members and partners, to continue utilizing our guidelines at national level and to using our global platform to foster dialogue and achieve global consensus on complex, difficult issues, as well as showcase progress on your national strategies and pathways.

I warmly invite you, excellences, to join your peer Ministers of other regions at the Annual Plenary of the Committee in October this year in FAO, in Rome.

Thank you, all.