Transforming food and nutrition systems is central to achieving the 2030 Agenda, FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu said at a Leaders’ Dialogue on the Sustainable Development Goals as part of the 74th UN General Assembly.
One of the most urgent areas for action in order to leave no one behind is to pursue targeted poverty eradication and investment in value chains in the world’s most impoverished regions, where many of the world’s most vulnerable family farmers live, he said.
It is also urgent to tackle the special challenges of tropical agriculture, the Director-General said, noting that 113 of FAO’s member states are in the tropics.
The Global Sustainable Development Report identified food systems and nutrition patterns as one of six “entry points” for achieving structural transformation at the necessary scale and speed.
“We must increase food quality, quantity and diversity,” he said, emphasizing the importance of crops beyond major staples such as rice, wheat, maize and soybeans.
Food systems have numerous transformation possibilities beyond the production phase, Qu said, noting important opportunities exist in the processing and marketing sectors for improving incomes and the inclusion of rural women and youth. Collaboration with private sector actors to mobilize investment, digital technology, infrastructure, access to new markets and general know-how is critical, as is collaboration with civil society groups to establish development that is inclusive and sustainable.
The Director-General emphasized FAO’s Hand-in-Hand Initiative which seeks to maximize impacts in countries that need the most help in achieving SDGs 1 and 2 – eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, respectively – by matching them with developed countries under the aegis of FAO’s food and agriculture expertise.
The Leaders’ Dialogue is part of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development for heads of state and government and key stakeholders to review progress towards the SDGs.