Director-General  QU Dongyu
A statement by FAO Director-General QU Dongyu
Director-General Statement to the UN Security Council
Briefing on Conflict and Hunger
21 April 2020


Thank you, Mr. President, for your invitation. FAO greatly welcomes the Council’s engagement on this subject and your continued recognition of the relationship between conflict and hunger.

While addressing you today, it is of course impossible to ignore COVID-19 and its impacts on food security.

Let me assure you that FAO is working at all levels to reduce the risk of the pandemic disrupting food systems and causing a global food crisis with our members.


Today I will focus on three central elements:

First: the 2020 Global Report on Food Crises and how it clearly shows the link between conflict and rising levels of acute food insecurity;

Second: the connection between livelihood interventions and peace processes; and

Third: the importance of early warning and quick action, to pre-empt food insecurity caused by conflicts.

Earlier today, we – FAO, WFP, the EU and 13 other partners – launched the 2020 edition of the Global Report on Food Crises.

According to the Report, 135 million people in 55 countries experienced acute food insecurity in 2019.

This is a substantial rise over last 4 years.

Almost 60 percent of all those people in 2019 did so in contexts of conflict or instability.

In South Sudan, for instance, where over 6 million people (more than half its population) are expected to face crisis levels of food insecurity or worse.

This will likely deteriorate further between May and July to almost 6.5 million people.

And in Yemen, which remains the world’s worst food and malnutrition crisis in 2020.

The number of acutely food-insecure people is expected to exceed 17 millions.

The risk of Famine persists, particularly if port operations are disrupted by the conflicts. 

Mr President, Distinguished Members,

Coherent actions are needed among humanitarian, development and peace actors, to address the root causes of acute food insecurity.

FAO’s experience shows that interventions supporting livelihoods and food security contribute to local peace, and broader peace processes.

Because these interventions address not only the symptoms but also the root causes of conflict.

And this goes to the essence of the Sustainable Development Goals that we work to achieve by 2030.

For example in the Sahel:

Over 12 million people experienced acute food insecurity there last year.

Unfortunately, we expect this number to rise to over 17 million during the coming lean season.

Despite large-scale, internationally backed efforts, peace remains fragile.

This has been particularly the case for pastoral and agropastoral communities, whose livelihoods have been increasingly eroded in the Sahel and elsewhere.

Pastoralism represents one of the most viable livelihood options in the drylands, making enormous contributions to social, environmental and economic well-being.

In West Africa and the Sahel, livestock production contributes up to 44 percent of agricultural GDPs.

But marginalization and neglect of pastoral communities, as well as the depletion of natural resources on which they rely, left them exposed.

In many areas, the relationship between farmers and pastoral herders, which was once cooperative, has become confrontational as they compete over the same scarce resources.

FAO and other agencies are strengthening the resilience of these communities, with a focus on cross-border areas such as in the Liptako-Gourma region of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, where insecurity and fragility are particularly acute.

Mr President, Excellencies, 

Conflict prevention and acting early to reduce the impacts of conflicts are highly effective steps that can be taken to avert and reduce acute food insecurity.

And we need prevention, as the forecasts for food security in 2020 look bleak.

Conflicts, extreme weather, desert locusts, economic shocks and now COVID-19, are likely to push more people into acute food insecurity.

But, by closely monitoring the evolution of these shocks, we can rapidly intervene to mitigate their impacts.

We are committed to rising to this challenge!

And we have mobilized our organizations in ways not seen since the foundation of the UN.

Because the evidence is clear:

  • Widespread conflict and instability lead to food insecurity.

  • Reducing or preventing conflict reduces and prevents hunger.

FAO will continue supporting the Security Council by providing professional consultation with up-to-date information and analysis on food security in conflict contexts.

This will facilitate the Council’s timely action to avert food crises. 

Mr President,

Non_traditional security will be an unavoidable problem closely related to food system.

My appreciation to all Council Members for their continued attention to the direct link between conflict and food security along with rural development.

Thank you.