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

 “Maintenance of International Peace and Security – Conflict and Food Security”

Security Council Chamber, New York

Statement by FAO Director-General Dr QU Dongyu

19 May 2022

 

Mr President, distinguished members of the Security Council

1.         FAO deeply appreciates the opportunity to speak to the Council on this important topic, and the continued attention placed on the issue of conflict and food security.

2.         Two years ago, I briefed the Council on the multiple risks facing global food security at the start of the pandemic. 

3.         Today, we gather again for people, peace, prosperity and planet to discuss several overlapping crises: climate change, COVID pandemic, and conflict.

4.         Worldwide, prosperity is being reversed.  There is less food security … less health security … less income … and greater inequality.

5.         My message today is more relevant than before: agriculture is one of the keys to lasting peace and security.

Excellencies,

6.         For the last five years, we have seen yet another spike in global levels of acute hunger.

7.         According to the Global Report on Food Crises, released on 4th of May, in 2021, about 40 million more people experienced acute food insecurity compared to 2020, bringing the total to 193 million people in 53 countries and territories.

8.         Worryingly, the projection is for further deterioration through 2022, including places with catastrophic food insecurity.  There are famine risks in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and Afghanistan.

9.         FAO has stepped up its efforts to strengthen agrifood systems, save lives and protect the agricultural livelihoods of the world’s most vulnerable.

10.       From our cutting-edge analysis and normative work, our global and national policy guidance, and our life-saving aid, FAO helps people, communities and governments cope with growing uncertainty.

11.       Yet, more needs to be done together.

12.       Conflict remains the single greatest driver of hunger.

13.       Between 2018 and 2021, the number of people in crisis situations in countries where conflict was the main driver of acute food insecurity increased by a staggering 88 percent, to just over 139 million.

14.       As the world had begun to recover from COVID-19, another conflict with far-reaching effects broke out.

15.       The war in Ukraine revived concerns of historically high food and energy prices and their impacts across the world.

16.       The war has disrupted exports and logistics and seriously affected food availability.  Ukraine and the Russian Federation together export 30% of the cereals and 67% of sunflower in the world.

17.       The increase in energy and fertilizer prices is putting the next global harvest at risk.  According to our latest scenarios, it could increase chronic undernourishment by an additional 18.8 million people by 2023.

18.       We are neighbours on this small planet village. What happens to one affects us all.

19.       FAO has and will continue to fully align with the Secretary-General’s call to end the war, restore peace and save lives.

20.       We must strengthen the humanitarian-development-peace nexus.

21.       We must analyze the root causes of acute food insecurity, including conflict and climate change, and apply these learnings to our actions.

22.       FAO does this through our Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) analysis, our co-leadership of the Global Network Against Food Crises, and our co-leadership of the Global Food Security Cluster.

Excellencies,

23.       We must prevent the acceleration of acute food insecurity trends in the coming months and years.

24.       Food production at the country-level must be expanded. We need to provide cash and critical inputs for cereal and vegetable production; and to protect livestock with treatments, vaccinations, feed and water.

25.       Agrifood supply chains and value chains must be strengthened with engagement of public and private sector in support of smallholder farmers and households.

26.       This is what FAO has been doing in Ukraine, Afghanistan and other countries.  

27.       In 2021, FAO reached more than 30 million people worldwide with emergency agricultural assistance and resilience-building programmes. For example:

o          In Afghanistan, we reached 3 million people including with wheat cultivation packages.  These cost just USD 160 and met the staple cereal requirements for a family of seven for an entire year. In local markets, the cost for this same amount of food is six times higher.  Our support helped livestock farmers increase milk production, equivalent to a level that would allow every Afghan child to have one glass of milk a day for at least five months.

o          In Ethiopia, despite access challenges, the seeds and planting materials provided by FAO and Agriculture Cluster partners allowed local farmers to produce 900 000 tonnes of food – five-times more than the humanitarian and commercial food supplies that entered the region.

28.       Despite this critical importance of agriculture to food availability and access in crisis contexts, only 8 percent of total funding for the humanitarian food security sector goes to agriculture.

Excellencies,

29.       We must protect people, agrifood systems and economies against future shocks.

30.       To prevent the impacts of conflict on food insecurity, we must increase sustainable productivity; strengthen capacities to deliver relevant services and commodities; and provide access to innovative financial tools and digital services.

31.       Members urgently need to transform their agrifood systems to be more efficient, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable for better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life – leaving no one behind. 

Excellencies,

32.       On behalf of FAO, I sincerely hope that you:

33.       Continue providing the necessary aid for food insecurity globally. 

34.       Allocate new resources to sustain agricultural production in challenging contexts.

35.       And, continue to recognize and support the role of agriculture in food security and peace and the contributions of international organizations like FAO, IFAD, WFP and others. 

36.       Based on my professional knowledge and experience, we can feed the world sufficiently and sustainably with existing tools if we all play our part.

37.       You can put policies in place that both increase productivity and protect natural resources.

38.       You can invest more in innovation and new technologies, especially in water management, irrigation systems and high quality agricultural inputs and in more transparent market information systems.

39.       Agrifood systems provide food, feed, fiber and biofuels.  They support the future of people on this small planet.

40.       On 19 May, 1943 our predecessors convened the first United Nations Conference on Food and Agriculture in Hot Spring, Virginia, United States. Our founders saw that FAO must play a vital role in the quest for peace. They wrote, and I quote: “the Food and Agriculture Organization is born out of the need for peace as well as the need for freedom from want. The two are interdependent. Progress toward freedom from want is essential to lasting peace."   Much has changed since then – but one thing remains a constant. The world needs enough foods, good foods and better foods – for all. Investing in our agrifood systems is more relevant than ever.

41.       Let’s work together effectively and coherently.

42.       Thank you.

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