Director-General  QU Dongyu

Harnessing digital technologies together can “provide the answers we need”


Rome/Addis Ababa - Digital technologies can make large contributions to global goals including sustainable agriculture and hunger reduction, making focused collaboration an imperative, QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), said today.

Along with artificial intelligence, science and innovation, they “can provide the answers we need,” he said at a virtual forum Connecting the digital dots: How the United Nations System is supporting digital transforming and looking toward the Global Digital Compact.

“Digital technologies have a large potential to reduce global inequalities,” Qu added.

FAO’s Director-General spoke along with other senior officials in the UN system at  the Virtual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) Open Forum, hosted this year in Ethiopia. The event highlighted the role of the Global Digital Compact proposed in the UN’s Common Agenda and several upcoming summits.

Agrifood systems have been heavily affected by recent shocks from the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, other ongoing conflicts around the world and the impacts of the climate crisis, so that today close to 1 billion people are at risk of famine in vulnerable countries and three times as many cannot afford healthy diets, the Director-General said. “This reality forces us to reconsider our priorities,” especially as there are only seven years before the deadline of the 2030 Agenda, he added. “We need to take bold action now.”

What FAO is doing

Digital technologies in the agrifood sector enable farmers to access timely information on prices, weather and other factors, help trace commodities, bridge the gap between consumers and producers, and can assist in solving storage logistics issues,  the Director-General said.

FAO is very active on the digital front and is already contributing to the UN Secretary-General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation by championing Digital Public Goods such as FAO’s Hand-in-Hand Geospatial Platform he said.

The 1000 Digital Village Initiative is converting villages across the world into digital hubs to accelerate rural transformation and narrow the digital gap.

“FAO will take a leading role” in harnessing digital technologies in agrifood systems to make sure no one is left behind, Qu said.