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


Session: Promoting participatory decision-making to accelerate transformative action: food systems and climate change



Dr QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General

31 May 2023



Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Colleagues,


I am pleased to be here today to participate in this important discussion.


Earlier this month, I had the pleasure to exchange with my colleagues during the UN SDG Principals meeting on the need for a holistic approach to the food-energy-climate nexus by refocusing on the SDGs related to food security and health security, for peace and prosperity, and to further accelerate the achievement of all the SDGs.


I had made it clear that it is essential to have at the country level:

  • One: harmonized and integrated policy and regulatory frameworks with strong political commitments;
  • Two:  enhanced multi-stakeholder dialogue and SDG accelerators;
  • Three: accelerators on technology,  innovation, data, and complements (governance, human capital, and institutions) in all programmatic interventions to accelerate impact, while minimizing trade-offs; and
  • Four: strengthened human and institutional capacities of public and private stakeholders.


As a UN specialized and professional Agency, FAO actively supports its Members in all four these areas. In particular, the New Agenda for Peace will deliver jointly on SDG2 for Ending Hunger, on SDG 13 for Climate Action, and on SDG16 for Peace and Justice, and will accelerate transformative action to respond to crises affecting agrifood systems and due to the impacts of the climate crisis.


The situation is daunting: up to 828 million people are in chronic hunger, and 258 million are suffering from acute food insecurity. The recent and dramatic increases were driven by conflicts, climate shocks, and economic crisis.


Actions are needed now. Agrifood systems must become more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable.


Achieving this transformation will require a strong focus on gender equality, as well as applying an inter-sectional approach to the challenges faced by the youth, Indigenous Peoples, people living in poverty, migrants, and pastoralist communities, among others.


We need to transform global agrifood systems to ensure the Four Betters: better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life for all – leaving no one behind.


To make it happen, we are working on three key sets of actions:


First, we need to promote the legal empowerment of the most vulnerable - those people and communities most at-risk of being left behind. This is key to achieve effective solutions to today’s challenges, and to build a harmonious society through the rule of law. In this regard, the right to land tenure is essential.


The “right to food” starts in many locations with the right to produce, and therefore to the underlying rights to land. For poor farmers, access to land and tenure security are critical assets for guaranteeing their own food security and livelihoods, and is also critical for local communities.


If tenure is a foundation for sustainability, then inclusive land governance and administration systems need to be key components of social protection strategies, building resilience to vulnerabilities, shocks and stresses.


Second, we need to anticipate and look ahead. We need to ensure we are on the right path, and that we will arrive on time to achieve the SDGs, with the proper consideration of trade-offs and synergies, to ensure we do not create winners and losers, which would delay the process and even create new conflicts.


On this path, our guides are data and analytics, and FAO is focused on developing and investing in new solutions to help guide Members.


From the state-of-the art award-winning geo-spatial information platform, to our forthcoming roadmap publication on achieving SDG2 (while respecting the 1.5 degree Celsius limit).


Analytics help us to understand problems and to design solutions, but even more important analytics remind us about people and communities whose voices are neglected, and who are the most impacted by existing shocks or future changes.


Third, we need effective and inclusive people-centered governance. We need to bring together all relevant stakeholders and adopt innovative participatory decision-making, to trigger the changes needed across the system.


We must empower all actors of change, especially new ones.


No one left behind is not just about the outcome, it is about the process.


The transformation of global agrifood systems is a collective effort by producers, consumers, traders and financers, among many others. It is about transforming the way we eat, we farm, we process, we finance. This includes governments, businesses, civil society organizations, and individuals. It is about co-creation, co-ownership and co-implementation of a shared vision.


To achieve this better and improved governance, we need innovative structure. That is why FAO has established the World Food Forum (WFF), held annually in mid-October since 2021. We have contributed to empowering youth and women in science and innovation, as well as attracting investment in rural areas that face numerous challenges.


Bringing together knowledge and investment opportunities in an inclusive way is facilitated by the FAO Hand-in-Hand initiative.


The Science and Innovation Forum and the Young Scientists Group at the World Food Forum has empowered the youth-led movement for transforming agrifood systems and to accelerate climate actions.


But FAO actions are much broader and extend to other for as well: we support projects and programs designed to provide technical and leadership skills to the global youth, and strengthen advocacy of women-led civil society organizations.


We are living in challenging times, but with the right set of analysis and institutions, I am confident that we can achieve agrifood systems transformation.


Confidence breeds hope, and hope breeds peace. This is how SDG16 is reachable!


Thank you.