Working for food security, sustainable development in face of crises and overlapping challenges – Qu Dongyu
YEREVAN, MAY 3, ARMENPRESS. Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), published an article on “Working for food security and sustainable development in the face of crises and overlapping challenges”.
Armenpress presents the full article:
“The past two years have been a watershed, profoundly transforming all spheres of our lives. Fortunately, science has helped us better understand and cope with the challenges brought about by COVID-19. Meanwhile, we also witnessed how the pandemic affected production, trade, logistics and the consumption of goods – including food and other agricultural products.
The United Nations and its agencies have worked hard to protect the health and safety of people and the planet, encouraging governments to find ways to build back better. In particular, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has advocated for transformed agrifood systems that are more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable, to achieve the Four Betters: better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life for all, leaving no one behind.
This call for the transformation of our agrifood systems has echoed around the world.
The United Nations Food Systems Summit in September 2021 was a key step on the path towards this transformation, encouraging all countries to innovate to ensure resilience to the climate crisis, natural disasters and conflicts.
Also in 2021, FAO Members agreed on the FAO Strategic Framework for 2022–31 that articulates the Organization’s vision for a sustainable and food-secure world for all in the context of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This strategic document became even more important in early 2022, when global food security was impacted by yet another crisis.
Each passing day the war in Ukraine is negatively affecting global food security. Ukraine and the Russian Federation are key pillars of global markets. They are important suppliers of agricultural commodities (wheat, maize, barley and sunflower) and other staple inputs, including fertilizers. Combined, the Russian Federation and Ukraine account for around 30 percent of global wheat exports and 20 percent of maize exports.
Shortages will likely extend into next year. According to FAO estimates, at least 20 percent of Ukraine’s winter crops – wheat, most notably – may not be harvested, and farmers in Ukraine will likely miss the May planting season. This will further reduce the global food supply, with serious implications for the Europe and Central Asia region and beyond. Nearly 50 low-income, food-deficit countries in Africa and the Near East depend heavily on Ukrainian and Russian grain supplies.
Food prices were already on the rise due to concerns over crop conditions, export availabilities and price inflation in the energy, fertilizer and feed sectors. As the war in Ukraine sent shocks through markets for staple grains and vegetable oils, food prices soared even higher, reaching a historic peak in March.
Immediate – and, above all, joint – coordinated actions and policy responses are needed to mitigate the impacts of ongoing food security challenges, and FAO has a critical role to play in this regard.
It is crucial that food and fertilizers flow uninterrupted. Agricultural production and trade should continue to supply domestic and global markets, and supply chains should protect standing crops, livestock, food processing infrastructure and logistical systems.
FAO strongly advises that the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) be strengthened as an existing platform for food market transparency and coordinated policy action in times of market uncertainty.
Furthermore, countries in Europe and Central Asia – and throughout the world – should improve their efficiency and productivity in managing natural resources, to not only lower the costs of agricultural production, but to also empower innovation capacity. This is especially crucial when it comes to exported goods.
Better management of natural resources is a cornerstone of sustainable development. To this end, achieving the SDGs, as outlined in the Organization’s Strategies on Climate Change, and on Science & Innovation, is at the core of the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31. To support the achievement of these goals and to respond to the interconnected challenges, FAO has launched the Regional Technical Platform on Green Agriculture, which provides a digital and user-friendly gateway for sharing information on mainstreaming the green agenda. An international conference to be held on 6 May in Baku, Azerbaijan, will focus on these topics.
Finally, we must increase the resilience of livelihoods. The most vulnerable depend on agriculture and natural resources for their livelihood, and they are usually the hardest hit by shocks and disasters.
By working together with governments, partners and communities – before, during and after disasters - FAO is in a unique position to support Members in building more resilient and food-secure futures by linking prevention, preparedness and rehabilitation for sustainable development, and helping farmers and rural economies become more agile, efficient and innovative. Without losing the focus on our strategic goals, FAO actively responds to emergencies to alleviate the effect of conflicts on human lives and livelihoods.
The world has never been more interconnected. Conflicts in one region echo in all corners of the globe, and their ramifications are grave for food security and all other development aspirations”.