FAO’s Committee on Agriculture focuses on how livestock sector transformation can contribute to achieving the SDGs
FAO Director-General calls for an integrated agri-food systems approach to better address food insecurity & malnutrition amid COVID-19
28 September 2020, Rome – The agricultural sectors & livestock farming in particular must shift towards sustainability to enhance their contribution to food security, nutrition & healthy diets & build back better to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic & other challenges, FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said today in his opening remarks to the 27th session of the Committee on Agriculture (COAG).
A sustainable livestock sector will foster an inclusive economic growth, improve livelihoods, sustain animal health & welfare, & address environmental issues, he added.
This is the first virtual COAG – bringing together over 120 Member Nations, partners & the public in an open online session. For this year’s session, the central theme is Sustainable Livestock for SDGs.
In his address to members of the Committee, representatives of United Nations & Specialized Agencies & other delegates, the FAO Director-General highlighted the need for a holistic & inclusive approach to livestock sector policies & technical actions that includes all stakeholders within the food system. In this respect, he stressed the vital role the private sector needs to play & the importance of strong partnerships with the sector.
Noting that the combined impacts of COVID-19, its suppression measures & subsequent global recession would increase the burden for family farmers & most vulnerable people, the FAO Director-General highlighted the need for greater support & increased investment in knowledge, infrastructure & technology for sustainable agriculture.
“Our assessment suggests that the pandemic may add up to 132 million people to the ranks of undernourished in the world in 2020. This would be disastrous, particularly in the context of the 2030 Agenda & the Sustainable Development Goals”, Qu said calling for an integrated agri-food system approach that addresses food security, livelihoods & the management of natural resources in a comprehensive & effective way.
In addition to COVID-19, agricultural & food systems are under increasing pressure from other unprecedented threats, like climate change, affecting crop yields, reducing the diversity of crop & animal species, & increasing the incidence & spread of pest & diseases, the FAO chief said.
“The people most vulnerable to climate shocks & natural hazards are the 2.5 billion small-scale farmers, herders, fishers & forest-dependent communities who derive their livelihoods from natural resources”, he noted.
The FAO Director-General called on countries to step up efforts to tackle the root causes of hunger & malnutrition through transformative changes to the way we produce, distribute & consume food.
To achieve this, we need to transform food & agriculture systems, ensuring inclusiveness & equality; identify & implement innovative approaches & technologies in agriculture; shift to more sustainable & diversified production & consumption patterns; & improve governance, he said.
“The goal we want to reach together is well defined: A tomorrow that is free of hunger; through better production, better nutrition, & a better environment for a better life!” the Director-General concluded.
FAO is pressing on despite the pandemic
Since the early days of the pandemic, FAO has focused on ensuring the continued delivery of its mandate while safeguarding the health & wellbeing of its employees. In July, the UN Agency presented the FAO COVID-19 Response & Recovery Program aimed at preventing a global food emergency during & after the COVID-19 pandemic, while working on medium- to long-term development responses for food security & nutrition.
On the normative side, the International Code of Conduct for the Sustainable Use & Management of Fertilizers & the Ten Elements of Agroecology were adopted by the FAO Conference; & the FAO Climate Change Strategy is being implemented.
On the operational side, FAO continued to support its members in combatting plant pests & animal diseases that affect lives & livelihoods of millions of people such as the Desert Locust, a threat that remains a priority for FAO with the pandemic making activities on the ground more difficult.
Between January & August 2020, over 760 000 ha have been controlled across ten countries from the Horn of Africa to Yemen. In this area, control operations have averted the loss of an estimated 1.52 million tons of cereal in the region. This amount of grain is enough to feed 9.88 million people for an entire year & is valued at $456 million.
In some countries, including Ethiopia & Somalia, FAO & governments are currently fighting the second generation of a widespread desert locust surge. National governments continue to lead control & surveillance operations supported by FAO through the provision of pesticides, bio-pesticides, equipment, aircraft & training.
FAO has also launched the Global Action for Fall Armyworm Control for a strong & coordinated response to the rapid spread of the Fall Armyworm at all levels.
In addition, the UN agency is providing assistance for a Peste des Petits Ruminants-free world, & measures aimed at countering African swine fever & other major animal diseases.
About COAG 27
COAG meets every two years. During the COAG 27 Session, delegates will discuss, among other important items, sustainable livestock for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a main theme. The livestock sector plays a key role in sustainable agricultural development & contributes directly or indirectly to each of the 17 SDGs.
COAG will also review the central role of food & agriculture for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals & provide guidance on further strengthening FAO support to achieving these goals in the SDG Decade of Action.