The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) director-general Qu Dongyu held virtual talks with Jutta Urpilainen, European Union (EU) commissioner for international partnerships. Both parties agreed to step up joint efforts to support the fight against hunger during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, thereby accelerating progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Possible implications on food supply chains

During the talks, the director-general noted that given the pandemic’s possible implications on food supply chains, the health crisis can turn into a food crisis in countries that were already at risk of slipping into acute hunger before the disease outbreak, as indicated by the recently launched Global Report on Food Crises.

In this context, Qu highlighted the ensuing need to work closely with the most vulnerable countries, including least developed countries (LDCs), landlocked developed countries (LLDCs), and small island developing states (SIDS) to ensure that food reaches the world’s most food-insecure populations.

To facilitate access to food, the director-general pointed to the importance of developing e-commerce and other digital tools in food production and food supply chains. Both parties agreed to continue strengthening their cooperation at technical level to provide innovative solutions geared towards keeping global food chains alive amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The EU commissioner reassured the director-general that the European Green Deal – a new sustainable economic growth strategy and policy agenda aimed at building a globally competitive, low-carbon, and resource-efficient economy – as well as digitalization in agriculture remained the Commission’s priorities.

Only ten years to go

The parties underscored that with only ten years to go for achieving the 2030 Agenda, strong commitment to fulfil the SDGs was necessary. To this end, the director-general called on colleagues of the FAO and the Commission to work together using digital platforms to build new forecasts and priorities for joint work, especially once conditions improve.

During the talks, the director-general congratulated the Commission and the commissioner for the good work and efforts within the COVID-19 international response, alluding to the association with United Nations (UN) secretary-general Antonio Guterres during the EU pledging conference on Monday.

He also expressed his appreciation of the Commission’s contribution to the desert locust upsurge response led by the FAO and the joint work focused on mitigating the impacts of COVID-19 on food security and nutrition, highlighting the increasing need for sustained life and livelihood-saving efforts as well as continued resilience investments. – FAO