FAO hails Europe’s forest restoration ambitions

FAO Director-General meets the European Council of Ministers for Agriculture and Fisheries during his first trip to Brussels

16 December 2019, Brussels - FAO Director-General QU Dongyu today hailed the European Union's pledge to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 and praised commitments to protect and restore the world's forests.

"We very much welcome the European Green Deal", the Director-General said, noting that the European Commission's blueprint plans involve reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving biodiversity and making the continent's food systems more sustainable.

In an address to the European Council of Ministers for Agriculture and Fisheries of the European Union, Qu emphasized FAO's expertise in leading international coalitions with knowledge, innovation, networking and information and research support. In particular, FAO is willing and able to contribute to and support the sustainable forestry commitments the ministers approved today.

"Deforestation and sustainable land use are a global problem requiring multilateral collaboration with an emphasis on concrete implementation," the Director-General said, pointing to FAO's recent assessment of forests in the world's drylands, conducted with a host of partners around the world.

It's essential, Qu said, that the agricultural and forestry sectors work together so that increasing food production and forest area can be sustainably achieved while meeting climate change goals. Ministries must take note that "nature is not separate", he added.

Time is running out for the 2030 Agenda's goals and for planetary health, so innovation is increasingly critical, especially in agriculture.

"We have to dare to find solutions nobody has thought of before," the Director-General said, noting that FAO's new Hand-in-Hand Initiative is designed to use sophisticated tools including digital technology and advanced geospatial modeling and analysis to identify the best opportunities to improve the livelihoods of rural populations.

The EU and its Member States are currently FAO's largest donor, and "the experience of the European countries has historic value for other countries," the Director-General said, expressing thanks to the ministers for "showing us your trust in what we do and how we do it".

Photo: ©FAO/Elio Germani
FAO Director-General QU Dongyu speaks at a press conference in Brussels.