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

G20 Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting

Opening Session 

Keynote Speech

Dr. QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General 

As prepared

Florence, Italy

17 September 2021


Dear colleagues,

Ladies and gentlemen,


1.         I would like to commend the G20 Presidency of Italy for their all constructive efforts to lead the successful G20 events in 2021.


2.         As we enter a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, I can confidently say that our collective efforts kept agri-food systems open, and trade flowing.


3.         G20 forum has demonstrated leadership and played a pivotal role in ensuring that the pandemic control measures had a short-lived effect on agri-food trade.


4.         The agri-food commodity markets were also resilient.


5.         The role of the Agricultural Market Information Systems (AMIS) was central in providing timely information on availability of stocks and supplies.


6.         This is an important G20 initiative, hosted by FAO with strong support of Members,


7.         And we must continue to support it as our global agri-food systems continue to be more challenged


8.         The IMF estimates that the pandemic reduced per capita incomes in advanced economies by 2.8% per year between 2020 and 2022.


9.         The per capita income loss for emerging markets and developing economies is 6.3%!


10.       The pandemic has further expanded existing inequalities.


11.       And agri-food systems are key to reducing these inequalities, especially in rural areas.


12.       World hunger increased in 2020 to 811 million people.


13.       And food insecurity increased from 8.4% to around 9.9% in just one year.


14.       161 million people risk being food insecure.


15.       Achieving SDG2 and SDG1 by 2030 is daunting.


16.       New, complex crises continue to emerge – such as in Afghanistan, Haiti and others.


17.       Here again I, on behalf of vulnerable reiterate to call G20 and others donors for your swift supports to farmers in Afghanistan and other regions. Time matters lives!


18.       Highlighting the major drivers behind food insecurity: conflict, climate, and economic slowdowns and downturns.


19.       We need urgent and decisive action to reverse this trend and light the Hope.


20.       Italy, as the G20 Presidency, has demonstrated outstanding leadership by including Food Security for the first time on the agenda of the G20 joint meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Development in Matera.


21.       There is a clear recognition of the critical role of agri-food systems in addressing many of the current global challenges.


22.       And, the Matera Declaration has renewed the G20’s collective political commitment. 


23.       through its partnership with FAO and the Food Coalition.


24.       It is a flexible coordination mechanism which allows us to build an inclusive alliance of partners and stakeholders together in response to specific country needs. 


25.       The pandemic marks a turning point in our lives, and we must change how we work, and how we work together.


26.       At FAO, we have reformed to build up a dynamic Organization that is fit for purpose.


27.       FAO’s strategic framework 2022-2031 is built around “Four Betters”:

•          Better Production,

•          Better Nutrition,                                                         

•          Better Environment, and a

•          Better Life


28.       Our objective is to support the transformation to more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable agri-food systems for 4 betters,


29.       To ensure that no one is left behind.


30.       FAO is committed to increasing the use of data, science and innovation, such as digital technologies, and the necessary complements (governance, institutions and human capital) - to enhance our work as a professional, knowledge and innovative agency.


31.       These accelerators are essential to support Members to increase resilience to current and future shocks.


32.       And the three pillars of sustainability – economic, social, and environmental – must be integrated at the heart of our collective multilateral efforts.


33.       Above all, political determination and enabling policies on R&D, investment, infrastructure and capacity building by the Members are critical to deliver on the 2030 Agenda.


[The Director-General introduces a brief video in which he asks Thomas Pesquet, FAO Goodwill Ambassador and French astronaut who is currently on the International Space Station, to share his thoughts with the G20 ministers.] 


Dear Colleagues,


34.       I congratulate you on the adoption of the Communiqué of the G20 Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting in Florence, Italy.


35.       It reflects the importance of: 

•          G20 cooperation and leadership;

•          Responsible and targeted investments;

•          the need for a One Health approach,

•          Research and development, technology and innovation, and 

•          Open and share international agri-food trade.


36.       Which are all keys to accelerate the pace of progress in this crucial decade leading to 2030.


37.       FAO stands ready to support Members in the transformation of agri-food systems to achieve the SDGs. 


38.       I wish you a fruitful event.


39.       Thank you.