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

8th World Congress on Conservation Agriculture

Welcome Address by
Dr QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General

As prepared

 21 June 2021

Distinguished Participants and Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear colleagues and friends,


1. I thank the European Conservation Agriculture Federation and the Swiss No-till Association for the opportunity to address the Congress.

2. The Food and Agriculture Organization is the Specialized Agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger and malnutrition.

3. The key challenge is to meet the growing demand for food, while reducing the pressure on natural resources and ecosystems.

4. Current consumption patterns and existing agri-food systems are hindering efforts to achieve this.

5. We see disturbingly high rates of food loss and waste, air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, the loss of biodiversity, and resulting inequality.

6. We urgently need to do things differently and act holistically to transform our agri-food systems.

7. We have to create new solutions and find smarter ways to produce more with less input, while keeping in mind that there are no healthy foods without a healthy environment.

8. That is why FAO’s Strategic Framework endorsed last week by ministerial conference, focuses on the transformation to MORE efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agri-food systems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life, leaving no one behind.

9. These ‘Four Betters’ represent a guiding principle and an innovative business model for how FAO is supporting the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.

10. The ‘Four Betters’ also reflect the interconnected economic, social and environmental dimensions of agri-food systems.

11. To produce more with less requires us to be truly innovative and environmentally thoughtful.

12. FAO is supporting its Members in achieving this delicate balance based on each local condition and priority.  

13. This includes conservation agriculture, integrated with other good agronomic practices, to prevent soil erosion, and promote biodiversity, biological interactions and efficient natural resource management.

14. Principles of conservation agriculture that mitigate climate change include:

  • using no-till practices to sequester more carbon into soils;
  • using fewer synthetic chemical inputs, and
  • increasing the use of appropriate tools and modern machines, including adopting the latest digital and precision agriculture technologies.

15. Practices that adapt to climate change include:

  • using quality seed, and planting superior crop varieties suited to specific environments;
  • managing soil, water, nutrients and pests by retaining crop residue and growing cover crops;
  • diversifying cropping systems; and
  • applying integrated pest management strategies.

16. FAO promotes the creation of decent on and off farm employment opportunities, as well as reducing food loss and waste.

17. To do so, it facilitates improved planning between urban, peri-urban and rural areas.  

18. We are fully aware of the need to engage more closely with the private sector to leverage innovations and technological advances.

19. We recognize the complementary partnership between a thriving private sector and a public regulatory framework,

20. And we support policies and strategies that can create enabling environments at national, regional and global levels.

21. Our new Strategy for Private Sector Engagement reflects this modern approach. 

22. FAO also recognizes the need for digital applications and the promotion of technologies.

23. Advanced data systems, for instance, can inform management decisions for cropping systems in line with current climatic conditions.

24. FAO’s flagship Hand-in-Hand Initiative accelerates agricultural transformation and sustainable rural development to  eradicate poverty (SDG 1) and end hunger and all forms of malnutrition (SDG2).

25. In doing so, the evidence-based, country-led and country-owned Initiative contributes to attaining all of the Sustainable Development Goals.

26. The initiative prioritizes countries where national capacities and international support are the most limited or where operational challenges, including natural- or man-made crises, are the greatest.

27. It uses a range of metrics to support agricultural interventions, supported by a geospatial platform for aggregating big data.


Dear Colleagues,

28. To conclude, I would like to underscore that collective action by all  and all tools in the box is essential, if we are to transform our agri-food systems.

29. FAO is committed to engaging with all stakeholders to deliver meaningful and impactful solutions for farmers.

30. Let us work together to attain the transformation of agri-food systems and achieve the SDGs.

31. I wish you all a successful Congress with a package of balanced solutions.

32. Thank you.