FAO Liaison Office in New York

60th Session of the UN Commission for Social Development (CSocD60) – FAO Director-General keynote speech


“Inclusive and resilient recovery from COVID-19 for sustainable livelihoods, well-being and dignity for all: eradicating poverty and hunger in all its forms and dimensions to achieve the 2030 Agenda”

Keynote Speech


Dr QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General

As prepared 

7 February 2022


1.     Thank you, Madam Chair, it is an honour for FAO to participate in this meeting.


2.     The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the world into a global crisis never seen before.


3.     Progress in reducing poverty has slid back, while hunger has increased worldwide.


4.     We have had a  sharp reversal of progress in achieving the goals of the 2030 Agenda, but we must also realize that many of the key drivers of poverty and hunger were already there before the pandemic.


5.     The frequency and intensity of the impacts of the climate crisis, conflicts and other humanitarian emergencies, and economic slowdowns and downturns, have increased in the last twelve years since the 2009 finacial crisis.


6.     While each of these drivers is unique, their interaction creates multiple, compounding effects, especially in low- and middle-income countries.


7.     70% of these countries are affected by at least one of the drivers,


8.     And the majority of undernourished people live in countries affected by multiple drivers.


9.     It is in these countries that one finds the highest levels of food insecurity and malnutrition.


10.  In addition, income inequalites, made worse by the pandemic,  further increases the negative impact of these drivers on food insecurity.


11.  Hardest hit are workers in the informal economy, whose income was most affected by the public-health measures put in place to contain the spread of the pandemic.


12.  An inclusive and resilient recovery  depends on ensuring equal access to vaccines in all countries,


13.  Otherwise poor countries with low vaccination rates will continue to struggle, and the post-pandemic recovery will remain uneven and uncertain for millions of households around the world.


14.  Strong international cooperation and solidarity will be essential to ensure an equitable economic recovery.


15.  Already, about 3 billion people around the world cannot afford a healthy diet.


16.  FAO estimates that an additional 1 billion people are at risk of not affording a healthy diet if a further shock were to reduce their incomes by one-third.


17.  These risks are unacceptable in a world that produces enough food to feed its entire population!


18.  It is clear that we cannot neglect the rural areas where 80% of the world’s extreme poor live.


19.  Rebuilding from the pandemic will require increased and targeted investments in rural development.


20.  For this, it is critical that our agrifood systems should be transformed to be more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable.


21.  Agrifood systems are central to the livelihoods of 4.5 billion people in the world.


22.  More than 80% of the rural populations is self-employed in the informal sector.


23.  Investing in agriculture - especially in family farming and small-scale food production -  allows rural people to benefit from land and labour, which are their two main assets.


24.  Investments in the agrifood sectors are therefore key to reducing poverty and achieving the 2030 Agenda.


25.  Measures aimed at creating off-farm jobs, fostering entrepreneurship and economic diversification are equally important.


26.  We need to increase the productivity of small-scale producers through investments in human capital, social protection systems and rural infrastructure.


27.  Measures adopted to keep agrifood systems working over the last two years have been critical for preventing an even more severe deterioration.


28.  These include avoiding trade restrictions, and the introduction of fiscal packages to support small and medium-sized producers in the agricultural sectors.


29.  Social protection schemes have been scaled up, created or continued in over 200 economies, with more than 3,000 interventions,


30.  Which included large-scale food distribution and voucher schemes, the expansion of rural development services to family farmers, and the adaptation of school and child feeding programmes.


31.  All of which contributed to preventing a steeper rise in poverty and food insecurity.


32.  We must recognize, share, scale up and build on these successful measures.


33.  Countries with strong social protection systems were better able to respond to the increasing demands for immediate assistance.


34.  But to make the recovery sustainable we need to produce more (increased quantity, and increased food diversity with higher quality) with less (less inputs of resources, with less impacts on the environment).


35.  We must boost public and private investments and financing services,


36.  Increase access to convenient infrastructure and financial resources for farmers and the vulnerable,


37.  And implement policy reforms that provide incentives for the private sector to support agrifood systems transformation and rural development. 


38.  FAO is hosting the recently established Coordination Hub for the follow up of UN Food System Summit, which will support countries through technical and policy support in further developing and implementing national pathways towards agrifood systems transformation.


39.  FAO is committed to working together with Members to transform agrifood systems to be more efficient, more inclusive, more resilent and more sustainable and to achieve the aspirations of the Four Betters:


40.  Better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life for all, leaving no one behind.


41.  The Four Betters reflect the interconnected economic, social and environmental dimensions of agrifood systems, and their centrality to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


42.  The years ahead offer the opportunity to speed up implementation of the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31 in 20 Prority Programmes Areas (PPAs) through integration of enbaling policies, investment, science and innovation, digital agrifood systems and rural areas,


43.  that not only promote development and prosperity, but preserve the planet and protects people from future shocks.


44.  We must learn from the past two years to design big and do it concrete to deliver sustainable livelihoods, well-being and dignity for all.


45.  Let us work together in an efficient, effective and collective manner for these ambitious action plans,


46.  To ensure the post-pandemic recovery that will help to scale up and speed up the 2030 Agenda for the better world.


47. Thank you.