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

Global Dialogue on the Role of Food and Agriculture in the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework

Day 2 Opening Remarks by
Dr. QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General

As prepared

7 July 2021


Honorable Ministers,

Ms Elisabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the CBD,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1.       Welcome to the second day of our Global Dialogue.

2.       Yesterday we heard inspiring messages from many different actors, who are working to mainstream biodiversity across the agricultural sectors.

3.       The voices included farmers and indigenous peoples, scientists and researchers.

4.       We witnessed a rich discussion illustrating the essential role biodiversity plays for agriculture and food production.

5.       And we learnt about concrete examples of biodiversity mainstreaming.

6.       We all agree that biodiversity has to play a key role for and in agriculture. The question is: How?

7.       I believe that yesterday’s presentations had a clear message:

  • ·         It is possible to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity for food and agriculture;
  • ·         while, at the same time, meeting the growing demand for food and other agricultural products.

8.       Another important message was that people and nature cannot be separated and that agricultural sectors are part of the solution.

9.       I thank the distinguished speakers we had the pleasure to listen to yesterday, and the audience who participated in the discussions.

10.    A special thanks to our Co-Chairs for facilitating the dialogue, and for preparing their interim conclusions, which they will present later in this morning session.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

11.    In my opening remarks yesterday, I spoke about the critical role of biodiversity for food and agriculture,

12.    About the need to mainstream biodiversity across the food and agricultural sectors, which is key to FAO’s vision for better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life.

13.    This is the core of our new Strategic Framework.

14.    Today I want to focus on the implementation of that vision over the next 10 years by highlighting opportunities to act at the global, regional, national and local levels.

15.    At the global level, the UN “Common approach to integrating biodiversity and nature-based solutions for sustainable development” builds on the shared recognition of the urgency to act.

16.    The Common Approach also identifies areas for collaboration, including more than 50 practical interventions, such as the Great Green Wall initiative, and FAO’s Green Cities Initiative.

17.    The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030 is a strong opportunity to mobilise our collective efforts.

18.    FAO is proud to co-lead the decade with UNEP.

19.    Through our mandate, we will focus on the restoration of productive landscapes and seascapes to enhance food security and nutrition, address climate change, and restore biodiversity.

20.    I invite you to join us in this endeavour.

21.    The mid-term of the UN Decade on Family Farming reminds us of the important role smallholders play as creators and custodians of biodiversity in agri-food systems.

22.    The transformation of agri-food systems towards greater sustainability ultimately depends on action at the national and local levels.

23.    The challenge for countries is to create an enabling policy and market environment to stimulate and scale up biodiversity-friendly production and phase out harmful practices.

24.    Often the costs of transition are presented as a barrier to biodiversity mainstreaming.

25.    But the global pandemic has demonstrated the fragility of our agri-food systems and the terrible costs that can follow when shocks occur.

26.    Investing in resilience and prevention is certainly cheaper than addressing the consequences of climate and biodiversity crises.

27.    Earlier this year, the DASGUPTA Review provided an independent analysis of the economics of biodiversity.

28.    The report highlighted the harmful trade-offs associated with most agricultural subsidy schemes.

29.    Repurposing these investments to promote public goods is an excellent opportunity to finance biodiversity mainstreaming in the agricultural sectors.

30.    By adopting the Strategy and Action Plan on Mainstreaming Biodiversity across the Agricultural Sectors, FAO Members have demonstrated the commitment of the food and agriculture sectors to this important task.

31.    FAO stands ready to provide related policy and technical support to its Members.

32.    We will continue to act as a neutral platform and a convener to facilitate the exchange of experiences on biodiversity mainstreaming at all levels.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

33.    This is a critical decade for climate action, to reset our relationship with nature, and to fulfil the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda.

34.    In the immediate future we look to the UN Food Systems Summit and the UN Biodiversity Conference as key opportunities:

  • to build the political will and
  • to establish an ambitious Post-2020 framework that recognises the opportunities to address multiple sustainability challenges through biodiversity mainstreaming in the agricultural sectors.

35.    This Global Dialogue provides critical input to these processes.

36.    I look forward to today’s Panel Discussions and wish you all a continued productive meeting.

Thank you.