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Speech of FAO Director-General at G20 Meeting of Foreign Affairs and Development Ministers

QU Dongyu highlights that governments must refocus their energies and investment on rural areas

"Excellencies,

It is an honor to join you today.

FAO applauds the G20 Presidency for placing food security at the center of this Joint Ministerial Session.

Before the pandemic we were not on track to achieve SDG 2:

  • Nearly one in ten people in the world was exposed to severe levels of food insecurity;
  • Overweight and obesity continue to increase in rich and poor countries alike;
  • Since 2012, the number of people living with obesity exceeds that of people in hunger;
  • 3 billion people did not have access to the minimum cost healthy diets, and
  • All this in a world, where we need to achieve land degradation neutrality, increase the efficiency of water use in agriculture, and reach the Paris Agreement targets

More than a year into the pandemic, we are witnessing the scale of its long-term effects on the agri-food systems, and how it has worsened the food security situation around the world.

Another 132 million became chronically hungry by the end of 2020. And 155 million people in 55 countries manifested crisis-level acute food insecurity.

The pandemic and related containment measures have:

  • intensified pre-existing drivers of fragility;
  • widened inequalities;
  • exposed structural vulnerabilities of local and global agri-food systems; and
  • hit the most vulnerable groups particularly hard.

Hunger has increased in rural areas and in cities - not only in the poorest nations but also in developed ones.

Across all developing regions, incomes of rural households have been negatively affected, due to reductions in farm and off-farm sources of income.

At the same time other pressing issues need to be addressed with urgency to achieve Zero Hunger:

  • Climate change will affect agriculture unevenly across the world;
  • Population growth and urbanization trends mean that by 2050 we will have to produce 50% more food;
  • In parts of the world, food security will continue to be threatened by instability and conflict.

Italy, as the G20 Presidency, has demonstrated outstanding commitment and leadership in bringing all the efforts together around food security.

Eighty percent of the world's poorest, that is 600 million people, live in rural areas, work in the agricultural sector, and yet go to bed hungry.

Almost half of them are children under the age of 15, with fewer opportunities for education and jobs than their peers in urban areas.

Governments must refocus their energies and investment on rural areas.

Agricultural sector is the solution to eradicate poverty and undernourishment while reducing unwanted migration.

Eradicating poverty and hunger does not have to be prohibitively expensive.

The G20 is a unique venue to forge consensus on issues of global concern.

The Group can foster collective action, design and support innovative solutions to strengthen and transform the world's agri-food systems.

The G20 had made invaluable contributions to global food security with G20 Agricultural Market Information Systems - AMIS - is one such example.

I would like to commend the Government of Italy for its initiative with the Food Coalition, as a global alliance for coordination, our shared commitment in response to the pandemic.

In this historical joint meeting, FAO would like to call upon the G20 and its partners to renew their collective commitment and joint actions to eradicating hunger and poverty,

In a recent modelling study, FAO and partners found that doubling this investment for 10 years, with poorer countries keeping up their investment to promote a series of low-cost interventions could help 500 million people escape from hunger.

Moreover, an additional $39 billion to 50 billion per annum is needed to end hunger by 2030, as envisaged by the SDG2.

Public, private, bilateral, multilateral and innovative forms of funding and partnerships are all needed to support the transformation of our economic and agri-food systems, particularly in low-income countries.

Including the agri-food sector in the hybrid Financing Frameworks and extending the use of blended financing mechanisms can help address the funding gap for SDG achievement.

Let us work together for the Four Betters: better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life for all - leaving NO ONE behind.

Thank you."

Photo: ©FAO
FAO Director-General QU Dongyu speeks during the joint G20 Foreign Affairs and Development Ministers’ Meeting.