19 August 2021, Rome/Wellington – The world can get back on track to achieve the goal of eradicating hunger by 2030 “with the right balance of interventions,” QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), today told the sixth Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial Meeting on Food Security.
Despite the additional challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the objective of eradicating hunger (Sustainable Development Goal 2 or SDG2) by 2030 is “reachable”, he noted through a video message. emphasizing the need for “collective and immediate attention.”
Qu highlighted strategic priorities in the mission to reverse the trend of growing food insecurity.
“Growth in the agricultural sector is the most significant sector to effectively reduce poverty and hunger in middle to low income countries,” the Director-General said.
Assuring additional investments in agriculture, in national development strategies, as well as bilateral and multilateral initiatives, is critical and “the cost is manageable”, amounting to around 8 percent of the size of the world’s food markets, Qu said. He urged targeting the countries most in need and focusing resources on “impactful” investments.
Efficiency – producing more with less resources and fewer carbon emissions – and innovation are the best and often only way forward, he stressed, noting that FAO has modelling tools that can help policy makers navigate the trade-offs that transforming agri-food systems will entail.
Among the appropriate interventions to be crafted into a holistic approach, the Director-General pointed to consumer incentives, repurposing subsidies to research and development, digital and green technologies, value-chain boosting investments such as irrigation for smallholders, reducing food loss and waste, keeping international trade open, and protecting the most vulnerable people with safety nets.
FAO’s Investment Centre and global network of investment officers is committed to support the work of moving from the drawing table to the enabling policies and investments required, he said.
Qu emphasized the need to think and act beyond sectoral boundaries. Systematic approaches that can generate win-win solutions range from territorial approaches – such as FAO’s Hand-in-Hand Initiative – to ecosystems approaches, approaches that empower women and that bolster Indigenous Peoples’ agri-food systems, and address protracted crisis conditions.
In the run-up to the UN Food Systems Summit later in 2021, “our attention is focused on the development of coalitions” capable of fostering game-changing solutions to overcome challenges to achieving the SDGs, FAO’s Director-General said.
Qu urged APEC countries to commit to the effort and lead it as champions.
“The APEC region has a key role to play in implementing the concrete actions needed to support the transformation to MORE efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agri-food systems,” he said.
APEC, founded in 1989, works to ensure that goods, services, investments and people move easily across borders, to promote common standards and synchronized regulatory systems, and to help all residents of the region to participate in the growing economy. It now has 21 members on four continents, including food-producing powerhouses such as Australia, China, the Russian Federation and the United States of America.
FAO’s Director-General spoke at the 6th APEC Ministerial Meeting on Food Security, chaired by New Zealand Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor. The Ministers issued a joint statement and endorsed a “2030 Roadmap”. Qu’s full remarks are available here.
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