22 November, Rome/Riyadh – QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, today called on G20 members to address the impacts of COVID-19 on agri-food systems by boosting farmers productivity, scaling up social protection mechanisms & investing in digital innovation, among other measures.
“It is essential for the G20 to keep working on preventing this health crisis from becoming a global food crisis,” the Director-General said, adding that “the G20 is a highly important impetus & emergency response on global policy, coordination & leadership to develop an inclusive, resilient & sustainable world by leading responsible investment, enabling policies, innovation & capacity building.”
Speaking at the G20 Leaders’ Summit hosted virtually by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qu acknowledged the concrete efforts made so far by G20 members to keep food supply chains alive & food trade flowing amid the pandemic, & encouraged countries to continue using trade “to boost farmers’ productivity, income & sustainability.”
He stressed the importance of leaving no one behind by supporting the most vulnerable people & countries to have access to vaccines not only for human beings but also for animals as well as affordable safe & nutritious foods.
“The One Health approach, as promoted by FAO, WHO & OIE, has enormous potential to prevent the emergence of new zoonotic reservoirs from the current pandemic,” Qu said.
Promoting inclusiveness also requires scaling up social protection mechanisms to improve livelihood of the poor & increasing responsible investment to integrate smallholder farmers into development processes, Qu said, noting that Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Least Developed Countries (LDCs) & Landlocked Developed Countries (LLDCs) need particular support & technical assistance to improve their supply chain & value chain.
The Director-General also called on G20 Members to support investment in digital innovation & extension. “Let us work together to use the international platform for digital food & agriculture. Speed up digitalization of agri-food systems by empowering youth & women in the villages & towns to fight against hunger & poverty,” he said.
Qu concluded his remarks by reaffirming that FAO is ready to continue to support G20’s collective actions, particularly through the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS), which was set up in 2011 at the request of G20, the Hand-in-Hand Initiative, the COVID-19 Response & Recovery Programme & the recently launched the Food Coalition.
The Director-General, who spoke just after the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, congratulated the Saudi G20 Presidency for its unprecedented efforts to make a historical Leaders’ Summit & stressed that FAO is ready to have close cooperation with the incoming Italian G20 presidency & members, on the Food Coalition, food loss & waste, Pre-Food Systems Summit (FSS), FAO Youth World Food Forum (WFF) & the 2030 agenda, especially SDG2, SDG1 & SDG 10 for “better production, better nutrition, a better environment, & a better life for the better future.”
It was the third time the Director-General addressed a G20 meeting in 2020. In March, he participated in the G20 Extraordinary Virtual Leaders’ Summit on COVID-19. In September, he spoke at the G20’s Agriculture & Water Ministers meeting.