Director-General  QU Dongyu

EU and FAO reaffirm commitment to tackle together immediate and long-term challenges to ending hunger


28 April 2020, Rome - In an online discussion with Janez Lenarčič, the European Commissioner for Crisis Management, FAO Director-General QU Dongyu thanked the EU for its unwavering and solid support of FAO’s work – be that to fight the current desert locust outbreak in East Africa, or the UN agency’s on-going efforts to end hunger.

Both parties agreed that it was key to continue working closely together to turn the trend of rising number of people in acute food crisis around, and make progress towards reaching Zero Hunger and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This is all the more important as 80 percent of the 135 million people grappling with acute food insecurity depend on agriculture, and food insecurity will worsen due to the COVID-19 pandemic, creating a deeper humanitarian crisis that is paramount to avoid.

Speaking about the desert locust situation, the EU Commissioner expressed appreciation for the progress FAO made in tackling the outbreak and the UN agency’s support to affected farmers. Both parties acknowledged the need to do everything possible to avoid a further desert locust spread.

The Director-General also briefed the EU Commissioner on the actions the Organization has taken over the past weeks in response to the COVID-19 emergency, including providing the latest information on food value chains, markets and food prices, food trade to inform key actors on the pandemic’s potential impacts on food and agriculture, as well as putting forward analyses and concrete solutions so that countries can take informed decisions and lessen the impacts of the pandemic on food systems.

Qu noted that FAO is putting a lot of emphasis on early warning and early action efforts to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of its interventions, and is conducting assessments to determine food insecurity hotspots. In the short term, FAO aims to support countries to produce more and better food locally; provide seeds and fertilisers to farmers in the coming months as planting seasons start in many parts of Africa to minimize the risk of a food crisis. In the medium and long term, FAO aims to help countries modernise their food systems – all for the benefit of the most vulnerable people.

With conflict, extreme weather conditions and natural disasters taking their toll on food and agriculture sectors at large, EU’s support is crucial, and very much appreciated by FAO, stressed Qu.

For his part, Lenarčič noted that many of FAO’s priorities and areas of work are priorities for EU as well. Intervening early is crucial to avoiding high losses and cost later, whilst having timely, solid and reliable data (for example, through the EU-supported Global Network Against Food Crisis) is key for well-targeted and timely responses.

In closing, the FAO Director-General and EU Commissioner reaffirmed their commitment to continue working closely together to end hunger and achieving the SDGs.

The EU is the biggest contributor to FAO’s work, whilst FAO’s work is crucial for EU to fulfil its mandate.