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

UNGA 2022

Ministerial Level Event:

“Act on Water to Feed the World: Sustainable Water Allocation to Create a Food Secure World for All”



Dr QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General

As prepared

22 September 2022



Ladies and Gentlemen,


1. Thank you to the Government of the Netherlands for organizing this important event.


2. Clean and plentiful water is critical for agriculture,


3. And for ending hunger, which is at the core of the mandate of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).


4. The FAO report on the State of the World’s Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture provides some important insights I wish to share with you.


5. Agriculture is responsible for over 70% of freshwater withdrawals.


6. 85% of the increase in global cropland over the last 10 years was irrigated.


7. Irrigation is important because irrigated farmlands bring higher yields.


8. In the United States, the water productivity of irrigated farmland is 2.5 times that of rain-fed farmland.


9. However, FAO’s report also showed that producing food for growing populations increases pressure on water resources, which are decreasing due to the impacts of the climate crisis.


10. We have seen these water shortages in numerous droughts this year.


11. Agriculture must, therefore, produce more nutritious food with less water,


12. And with less inputs overall, to avoid negative environmental impacts,


13. And to deliver on SDG2 to end hunger and SDG6 to provide clean water and sanitation.


14. FAO works with Members and partners to find solutions to improve water use,


15. And our projects include modernization plans for large-scale irrigation schemes to make rain-fed agriculture more resilient and productive,


16. And to support sound water policies and investments in infrastructure and research.


17. Data and monitoring are key for information sharing, effective response and efficient planning.


18. A key example is FAO’s WaPOR project in Africa and the Near East, which monitors Water Productivity through Open Access Data.


19. The system monitors water use and crop production by satellite remote sensing, and the information provided helps policy makers make informed decisions.


20. It helps them prepare for drought and increase agricultural production with less water.


21. WaPOR is a Digital Public Good that can be used in irrigated areas to calculate where water productivity is high or low, allowing targeted action.


22. It shows how big data can benefit smallholder farmers.


23. I wish to convey appreciation to the Government of Netherlands for its generous continued support to this project.


Dear Colleagues,


24. We need to continue to do more.


25. Satellite data is made available by the European Space Agency and NASA, and FAO, together with partners, are providing open-source calculation models and methodologies.


26. We need to take advantage of the advancements of digital technologies to use water better,


27. And we must ensure that such innovative technologies are freely available to all.


28. We must put technology, science, innovation and good practices within the reach of farmers everywhere, so they too can benefit.


29. This is how we can ensure that nobody is left behind.


30. Thank you.