Director-General  QU Dongyu

Leveraging Mediterranean potential to transform agrifood systems


Rome –Advantages of the Mediterranean region present many opportunities to transform agrifood systems affected by the climate crisis and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), QU Dongyu.

Speaking at the Mediterranean Dialogues high-level event in Rome, Qu stressed that countries in the region should recognise their similar culture, weather, diet, biodiversity and natural resources to transform their respective agrifood systems to be more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable, as well as to work for the common prosperity of the Mediterranean region.

Mediterranean countries have many comparative advantages and unique characteristics in agricultural sectors, including production, land and water management, climate-smart agriculture, forest management and agroecology.

“For the post-pandemic recovery, you have to use your comparative advantages to unleash the potential for the common goods and a common agenda of transforming agrifood systems in the region,” Qu said, noting the contribution of the Italian Government and its leadership of the G20 Presidency in 2021.

The Director-General also noted the importance of the Mediterranean diet which he described as a powerful lever for bridging healthy and sustainable food consumption.

The Mediterranean Dialogues, an annual event hosted by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Italian Institute for International Political Studies, invites international and national leaders to discuss regional challenges and to rethink traditional approaches with new ideas and suggestions to strengthen peace and security in the Mediterranean region.

Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Luigi di Maio, addressed this year’s Mediterranean Dialogues, which included the participation of high-level representatives from Croatia, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and UNESCO. 

FAO’s work in the Mediterranean

FAO works with the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM) and the Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA). The SFS-MED Platform is an initiative created by FAO, CIHEAM, FAO and UfM aimed at providing greater collaboration to leverage skills and foster investment and innovation.

FAO’s General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean, which includes 22 Members and the EU, promotes sustainable fisheries and aquaculture in the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea.  Among recent initiatives are the "AdriaMed" project, which has not only helped to restore depleted fish stocks in the northern Adriatic Sea, but also led to the establishment of a permanent Fishing Restricted Area (FRA) through the GFCM.  A similar project in the Strait of Sicily, entitled “MedSudMed”, led to the GFCM’s adoption of the Mediterranean's first multi-national management plan for bottom trawling and the protection of vulnerable fishing areas in 2016.

FAO is also developing a Regional Technical Platform on Green Agriculture to facilitate knowledge-sharing within the Mediterranean region.