Director-General  QU Dongyu
A statement by FAO Director-General QU Dongyu

FAO Director-General's statement at the SDG Summit


25 September 2019


Distinguished chairpersons, your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen:

Good morning!

The purpose of the 2030 Agenda is summarised with three key words and the four betters: “Transforming our world” by Better production, Better nutrition, Better environment and a Better life for the future. The Global Sustainable Development Report released just 2 weeks ago identified food systems and nutrition patterns as one of the 6 entry points for achieving structural transformation at the necessary scale and speed.

I welcome this report and would like to offer the UN perspective on food system transformation. To leave no one behind, we must begin by addressing the needs of more than 2 billion people: farmers, fisherman, pastoralists and indigenous peoples, more than 80 percent are small food producers and labourers.

I am a son of rice grower. I know that in this room a lot of people are sons, or daughters, grandsons, or granddaughters of farmers. We must channel resources to the world’s impoverished regions to promote more targeted poverty eradication, invest in value chains, and pay attention to local staple food such as legumes, roots and tubers. Not only rice, wheat, corn, soybeans, all those big items. We know people from islands, from different regions, from Africa, Pacific region, some parts of Asia, they do not eat so much rice, wheat and bread, as what we have in the majority of this world.

We must also tackle the special challenge of tropical regions, because tropical countries compose 113 out of 194 members of FAO, and dryland agriculture, where the impact of climate change is particularly devastating, and where the technical improvements of sustainability, resilience, adaptability are most urgent.

We must improve food quantity, quality and diversity, through improving good agronomic practices (GAP) to increase farmers’ income and welfare. The story of food system transformation only begins with stronger political commitment for collective synergy and a holistic design of agriculture and food chain.

In this regard, in this special occasion and time, as FAO Director-General I really want to call on politicians, professionals, private sectors and farmers to work together, deliver together, and also offer tailored assistance to the small and weak hands by the big and strong hands, through the hand-in-hand match-making partnership among public, private sectors along with NGOs.

Finally, our fight against rural poverty and inequality must include improved access to education, health and broadband for digitalising farmers and farming. For that, let’s do it together, hand-in-hand initiative, and also among member countries, among all UN organisations across this planet for generations to come.

Thank you!