Director-General  QU Dongyu

Working hand in hand to improve food security and nutrition prospects for LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS


13 July 2020, Rome/New York - Following the launch of The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020 report (SOFI), FAO co-organized a webinar on the subject of Transforming food systems Hand-in-Hand to deliver affordable healthy diets in Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

FAO Director-General QU Dongyu referred to the virtual meeting as “a precursor to action” and urged governments to standardize agrifood production processes, train young smallholder farmers in new technologies like e-commerce, and form partnerships with the private sector. 

Qu also called governments and partners to work closely together to overcome the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, as the nutritional status of the most vulnerable groups is also likely to deteriorate. 

“The COVID-19 crisis has shown us that we cannot sustain collective action unless we are motivated by solidarity, by empathy for others,” he said, noting that “we have a window to act, but it is small.”

The key lies in utilizing innovative multilateral approaches like FAO’s Hand-in-Hand initiative, which uses data and science-based analysis to determine where and how action can be targeted to have the greatest impacts on poverty and hunger. 

The Hand-in-Hand initiative was presented by Angélica Jácome, Director of OSL – FAO’s Office for Small Island Developing States, Least Developed Countries and Landlocked Developing Countries, who explained that the initiative aims to act as a catalyst of cross-sectoral coordination and foster development action under a common vision, particularly in relation to SIDS, LDCs and LLDCs.

FAO Chief Economist Maximo Torero remarked that today “three billion people in the world cannot afford healthy diets”. Torero called governments to use the Hand-in-Hand Initiative as a way of fostering more efficient internal trade and marketing mechanisms, which will reduce the cost of nutritious foods and strengthen the purchasing power of the poor. 

The Director-General also stressed that “Hand-in-Hand is not about what FAO can do, but about what we can all do by working together, by being transparent to each other, and by believing that our actions matter.” 

The Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS, Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu, highlighted that “any sustainable development must be underpinned by data and science but also by genuine development cooperation with developing countries as partners.”

The meeting was attended by representatives of several countries, including Mr. Perks Master Ligoya, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Malawi to the UN (Chair of Group of Least Developed Countries); Mr. Kairat Umarov, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan to the UN (Chair of Group of Landlocked Developing Countries); and Ms. Lois Michele Young, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Belize to the UN (Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States).

Representatives from the World Bank and the private sector, including Mastercard, Rabobank, Mars and Syngenta, also participated in the webinar and showed their support for programmes aimed at improving the livelihoods of the most vulnerable, such as the Hand-in-Hand Initiative.   

The meeting was co-organized in partnership with the UN Office of the High Representative for the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS (UNOHRLLS), in collaboration with the Chairs of the LDC Group, LLDC Group and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).

The webcast of the event is available here