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

IAEA Scientific Forum 2021

Opening Session

Preparing for Zoonotic Outbreaks: The role of Nuclear Science

Keynote address (video message)


Dr QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General

21 September 2021


Dear Colleagues,

  1. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the health, livelihoods and family lives of hundreds of millions of people, and has disrupted our agri-food systems.
  2. It has reversed our global efforts to achieve the SDGs, including reaching Zero Hunger by 2030.  
  3. The latest report of The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World revealed that up to 811 million people were undernourished in 2020, a dramatic worsening of global hunger, largely due to the pandemic.
  4. We have to try our best to get back on track with the 2030 agenda.
  5. This is where application of nuclear science and technology has strong potential.
  6. FAO has been working closely with the IAEA since 1964 to contribute to sustainable food security and safety by using nuclear techniques and biotechnology.
  7. Through our joint multi-disciplinary laboratory, and close collaboration with other organizations such as the OIE, we have been collaborating to develop technologies and applications in animal disease diagnosis.
  8. The last two years have witnessed unprecedented efforts from the international community in responding to COVID-19 and preventing future pandemics.
  9. Sharing lessons learned, strengthening multilateral cooperation and working collectively through One Health will pave the way toward this common goal.
  10. One Health links human, animal, micro-organism and plant health in the ecosystem, and calls for a better understanding of the environmental impact from the animal-human-micro-organism interface to develop laboratory tools that detect, prevent and control emerging infectious diseases.
  11. Joint initiatives such as the Zoonotic Disease Integrated Action (ZODIAC) provide veterinary and public health officials with critical information and the tools needed to make timely science-based decisions.
  12. The joint Animal Production and Health Laboratory plays a vital role, within the One Health framework, through applied and adaptive research to provide standards, protocols, guidelines, training and specialized services.
  13. The VETLAB Network was instrumental in the successful global eradication of rinderpest and provided valuable technical support during outbreaks such as Avian Influenza and Zika among others, and now the COVID-19 pandemic.
  14. The joint laboratory further provides DNA-based technologies to efficiently manage animal genetic resources, as well as nuclear and nuclear-derived technologies to improve animal production and disease control in developing nations.
  15. We need to better prepare for future disease outbreaks, we need to strengthen technical capacity, broaden partnerships and engage all key players.
  16. Together, we can transform 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.
  17. I wish you a successful forum.
  18. Thank you.