FAO Director-General addresses Nutrition for Growth event and stresses the importance of advocacy and awareness-raising
Top row: Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi of Japan, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan, President Felix Tshisekedi of Democratic Republic of Congo, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh. Middle row: Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak of Timor-Leste, First Lady Gabriela Rodriguez de Bukele of El Salvador, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, World Bank President David Malpass. Bottom row: World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, FAO Director-General QU Dongyu.
Rome - Public interest in and support for nutrition and healthy diets are growing stronger, offering a ray of hope for a challenge affecting billions of people, QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said today, stressing that FAO will strengthen its efforts to promote better nutrition for all.
“Advocacy efforts on the importance of nutrition, heathy diets and agrifood systems for human and planetary health are showing results,” he said, citing the mid-term review of the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition.
Director-General Qu participated in the opening session of the Nutrition for Growth (N4G) summit convened by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan. Other participants included President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh, President Andry Rajoelina of Madagascar, Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak of Timor-Leste, UN Secretary General António Guterres, World Bank President David Malpass, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and the Executive Director of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore.
Qu also pointed to the recent UN Food Systems Summit, G20 meetings of the past year and international summits on climate and biodiversity as showing that “global attention to the need for transformation of agrifood systems and sustainable structures so that they can produce safe and nutritious food for all is high.”
Committed action is needed, as some 3 billion people are unable to access healthy diets globally, according to FAO’s State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021 report. “The COVID-19 pandemic has made the situation even more daunting,” the Director-General said.
He noted that Better Nutrition is one of the four fundamental aspirations – the 4 Betters – set out in FAO’s Strategic Framework 2022-31. The other three are Better Production, a Better Environment and a Better Life.
“More efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable agrifood systems are critical for healthy diets and improved nutrition,” Qu added.
The Director-General outlined FAO’s relevant pledge commitments:
The challenge in Africa
FAO is committed to support the advancement of nutrition in Africa, where nearly 60 percent of the population were affected by moderate or severe food insecurity in 2020, and even more are unable to afford healthy foods.
At a side event on “Human Security and Nutrition,” Director-General Qu noted that a large share of the world’s poorest people live in rural areas and that increased urbanization on the continent as an “opportunity to leverage urban demand for food to improve rural-urban and territorial linkages.”
The Director-General extolled the partnership with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and urged the development of further innovative perspectives.
JICA President Kitaoka Shinichi gave the keynote address, urging a plurality of strategies to promote nutrition with each stakeholder and organization leveraging their own comparative advantages. Information sharing is the vital foundation of such partnerships, he said.
In the question-and-answer segment, Director-General Qu reflected on his experiences as vice governor of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, one of China’s landlocked and poorest areas, and said nutrition promotion can become a driving force for local development.
While appealing for more resources from donor nations, he urged a focus on “concrete, tangible and deliverable” projects whose impact should be judged by actual examples.