Director-General  QU Dongyu

Post-pandemic world: sustainable agrifood systems are key to a healthy, inclusive, and green recovery


New York/Rome – Shifting towards more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agrifood systems will play a central role in recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and delivering on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), QU Dongyu, said today.

He addressed a high-level panel meeting organised by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) entitled “Recovery from the pandemic through the lens of SDGs 4, 5, 14 and 17”.

In his speech, Qu highlighted that transformed agrifood systems must beneficial for all, underscoring the need to recognize the role of women, youth, rural communities and indigenous peoples as key actors across agrifood systems.

A persistent “gender gap”, for instance, continues to hamper women’s access to assets, land, productive resources, services and technologies, undermining their productive and business potential.

We need to ensure that everyone has “equal access to health services, education, decent jobs and business opportunities” the Director-General said in order to build a world in which no one is hungry, no one is poor, and no one is left behind.

The Organization’s flagship initiatives like the Hand-in-Hand Initiative and the 1000 Digital Villages Initiative support digital transformation in communities by providing technologies and solutions for e-services that improve access to education, livelihoods, nutrition, health, and well-being of rural and marginalized populations.

Healthy planet, healthy people

The Director-General cited healthy ecosystems as another central building block to the inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.  “Recovery from the pandemic would not be achieved without addressing the loss of natural resources and the degradation of our terrestrial and marine ecosystems,” he said.

In particular, Qu spoke about the importance of healthy oceans and marine biodiversity for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and all coastal communities whose food security, livelihoods and household income depend on the fisheries sector.

The Director-General also warned that the negative pressure of human activities on our ecosystems increased the emergence and spread of zoonotic disease. To avert future diseases, he emphasized the need for addressing biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation through an integrated and inclusive approach across all agrifood sectors.

Inclusive recovery also required addressing vulnerabilities and strengthening resilience of communities in protracted crises, which remained a big policy challenge for governments, civil society, the private sector and other development actors.

The Director-General reiterated FAO’s commitment to working together with key partners in an efficient, effective and coherent manner for better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life for all, leaving no one behind.

FAO is hosting the recently established Coordination Hub for the follow up of UN Food System Summit, which will support countries through technical and policy support in further developing and implementing national pathways towards agrifood systems transformation.

Today’s event was chaired by Ambassador Suriya Chindawongse, Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, and Permanent Representative of Thailand to the United Nations. It also saw the participation of Audrey Azoulay, Director-General, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Sima Bahous, Executive Director, UN Women, and Jose Antonio Ocampo, Chair of the Committee for Development Policy at its 23rd session among others.