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

UN 2023 Water Conference

Side event:  

Drought-Fragility-Finance-nexus: managing drought risk and overcome conditions of fragility 



Dr QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General

22 March 2023



Ladies and Gentlemen,

The frequency and severity of drought events are rising, causing significant loss and damage. Extreme weather is a global problem, damaging livelihoods and increasing food insecurity.

In fragile contexts, these risks are higher. Underlying conditions of extreme poverty, hunger, inequality and conflict can turn droughts into disasters.

We must support fragile communities to break the vicious cycle of humanitarian tragedy, through proactive - rather than just reactive - approaches to drought.

Many countries have developed national plans for integrated drought management – this is important progress, but plans and policies must be translated into action.

The lack of adequate, timely and innovative financial resources remains a major barrier to proactive and integrated drought management. Conventional financial sources, mechanisms and instruments may not be sufficient to support investments in drought risk reduction and resilience building. Responsive and innovative drought financing mechanisms need to be clearly identified as a component of overall climate finance.

FAO will continue to support countries to attract this critical climate finance to implement climate-resilient innovation across agrifood systems, and to access drought financial resources and move towards proactive approaches.

Through global financial mechanisms, FAO is backing national plans for enhanced drought resilience – such as in Cabo Verde, Cuba, Panama, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. This collaboration, as part of a Global Environment Facility-funded global programme, extends to 31 countries from all regions.

We also need to increase private sector participation, and innovative financial instruments are paving the way. Resilience building and risk financing options are available, even in countries where lack of access to finance has been a long-standing problem. The global knowledge base also needs to be developed to ensure that investment decisions reflect current needs and foresee trends.

To advance global knowledge, we must take stock of challenges and experiences and share them, to lay out what needs to be done to promote effective drought financing mechanisms. Towards this objective, the FAO “Building Forward Better” Initiative promotes the enhancement of national human capital - such as in Mali and Niger - to strengthen capacities in natural resources management in fragile contexts.

In the face of intensifying climate impacts, well-funded proactive responses to drought are critical. We must work together to mainstream proactive approaches into national strategies, and foster sustainable financial solutions to secure their implementation.

As a contribution to the UN 2023 Water Conference and the Water Action Agenda, FAO is fully committed to supporting Members to build such approaches and access financing.

We cannot end poverty and hunger unless we get ahead of the curve on droughts.

Let us work together, as one global community, in an efficient, effective and coherent manner to act, and not just react!

This is how we can protect lives, livelihoods, food security and reduce the risk of mass forced migration, as well as help to secure sustainable development and achieve the Four Betters: better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life for all – leaving no one behind.

Thank you.