QU Dongyu urges FAO Members not to allow history to repeat itself through famines and destructions of livelihoods

Rome – The 175th Session of the FAO Council, a pivotal governing body of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), began on Monday with Director-General QU Dongyu urging Members to remain focused on core objectives, notably the transformation of global agrifood systems, and “to ensure we do not allow history to repeat itself through famines and destructions of livelihoods.”

The weeklong meeting allows the 49 Members of the Council to review thematic priorities, including ongoing work to strengthen FAO’s country office network strategic decisions, budget allocations and a recent review of the Organization’s management and administration.

In his opening remarks, Qu noted that FAO reached around 56 million people with agriculture and resilience assistance in 2023, and is targeting reaching 80 million people in 2024.

The current time is a moment when conflicts, climate crises and economic shocks are catalyzing severe hunger emergencies around the world, as highlighted by the recent Global Report on Food Crises and the Hunger Hotspots reports. Those shocks tend to be most severe where people are more reliant on some form of agriculture for their livelihoods.

The Director-General noted that the risk of famine is real in Sudan, where half the population is facing high levels of acute food security, while insisting “we have a small window of opportunity to prevent it now.”

In Gaza, famine is no longer a threat but a hard reality amid an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, with the breakdown of agrifood systems and water supplies along with blockades on aid, he said.

The war in Ukraine has severely damaged the country’s agricultural sector, impacting the country’s labor force, infrastructure and export capacity as well as affecting global food security.

More than four million people in Haiti are experiencing high levels of acute food insecurity, and FAO is surging agricultural support into the country to prevent the disruption of the main cropping season.

Meanwhile, the impacts of El Niño and La Niña have prompted FAO to launch anticipatory actions in 19 countries at risk, including actions such as building irrigation systems, vaccinating animals and providing cash transfers ahead of flooding to allow families to protect assets and meet their immediate needs.


In his remarks, QU also identified an array of achievements, including making FAO a big player in helping its Members access funding from multilateral facilities such as the Green Climate Fund and the Global Environment Facility, as well as the ongoing expansion of flagship programmes such as FAO’s Hand-in-Hand Initiative and the One Country One Priority Product projects.

Numerous other actions, ranging from a forum on sustainable beekeeping to the Atoms4Food Initiative, and the Africa Phytosanitary Programme, are also being undertaken.

Record inflows for FAO’s resource mobilization efforts, along with their increasingly diverse sources, attest to FAO’s work being appreciated, the Director-General highlighted. Moreover, public spending on agriculture reached an all-time high, further evidence that the international community is increasingly committed to agrifood system transformation as central to the global agenda.

That said, more needs to be done, Qu noted, noting studies that found a $4 trillion financing gap for meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, including $600 billion for food, agriculture, and biodiversity.

“We have to do more go get back on track” to achieve the 2030 Agenda, said Hans Hoogeveen, Independent Chairperson of Council. That will require working with the private sector, working together like a family, and focusing on implementation, he said. “FAO and its Members stand at the forefront of this transformative journey,” he added.

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