Director-General  QU Dongyu

Agri-food systems transformation needed to feed everyone safe and nutritious food


23 March 2021, Rome - Agri-food system transformation was urgently needed to end hunger and malnutrition and feed everyone on the planet safe and nutritious food, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), QU Dongyu, said today.

Presenting the keynote address to the 2021 Virtual Global Food Safety Initiative Conference, the Director-General said there were many challenges facing agri-food systems and the burden of malnutrition persisted in the world, noting 144 million children under 5 suffer from stunting and 47 million from wasting.

“The fate and well-being of every human being on our planet depend on reliable access to sufficient amounts of safe and nutritious foods,” Qu said, noting that more people were now suffering from food insecurity since the Covid-19 pandemic began and the trends were not encouraging.

The Director-General emphasized the goal of feeding the world’s 10 billion people by 2050 would require efficient and sustainable agri-food systems that are able to produce safe and nutritious food for everyone.

“We must create the economic growth and employment opportunities needed to eradicate poverty, reduce inequality, sustain biodiversity and preserve the natural resource environment,” he stressed.

In his address, the Director-General highlighted several ways to move towards efficient and sustainable agri-food systems.

He called for action to minimize the trade-offs between competing policy objectives; to harness innovation and digital technologies; to pursue a 4-R approach to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recover in relation to water, land and agricultural inputs; and to strengthen governance, human capital and institutions.

“Every stakeholder within the agri-food system will need to transform operations and retool approaches with the aim of providing safe and nutritious amounts of foods that are efficiently and sustainably produced,” Qu stressed.

“We need to build the capacities in countries but also strengthen our ability for collective action to develop the agri-food systems we want.”

The Director-General drew attention to the urgency of the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development and also stressed that many of the challenges facing agri-food systems would be discussed at the UN Food Systems Summit, which will take place in September.  He also emphasized the need for the public sector to partner with the private sector to find solutions to promote digital solutions and innovation.

Erica Sheward, the Director of GFSI, and Roy Kirby, Global Director responsible for food safety at Mondelez International, also addressed the opening day of the GFSI Conference.

FAO is a partner of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) which was created in 2000 to address this global issue of food safety. The GFSI is guided by its parent organization, the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), which is an international industry network.

The CGF is an observer contributing to FAO/WHO’s Codex Alimentarius, or International Food Code, which is a collection of international standards, guidelines and codes of practice to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair practices in the food trade. 

GSFI is renowned for its work on developing equivalency schemes for food safety audits in the private sector and has been using Codex standards as benchmarks.

More than 800 food industry leaders and partners from around the world are expected to attend the three-day GFSI Conference, which has become the meeting place for decision-makers from across the supply chain and around the world.