FAO pledges upscaled support for better nutrition and healthy diets for all

Public interest in and support for nutrition and healthy diets are growing stronger, offering a ray of hope for a challenge affecting billions of people, QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said today, stressing that FAO will strengthen its efforts to promote better nutrition for all.

“Advocacy efforts on the importance of nutrition, heathy diets and agrifood systems for human and planetary health are showing results,” he said, citing the mid-term review of the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition.

Director-General Qu participated in the opening session of the Nutrition for Growth (N4G) summit convened by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan. Other participants included President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo, UN Secretary General António Guterres, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh, President Andry Rajoelina of Madagascar, Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak of Timor-Leste, UN Secretary General António Guterres, World Bank President David Malpass, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and the Executive Director of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore.

Qu also pointed to the recent UN Food Systems Summit, G20 meetings of the past year and international summits on climate and biodiversity as showing that “global attention to the need for transformation of agrifood systems and sustainable structures so that they can produce safe and nutritious food for all is high.”

Committed action is needed, as some 3 billion people are unable to access healthy diets globally, according to FAO’s State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021 report. “The COVID-19 pandemic has made the situation even more daunting,” the Director-General said.

He noted that Better Nutrition is one of the four fundamental aspirations – the 4 Betters – set out in FAO’s Strategic Framework 2022-31. The other three are Better Production, a Better Environment and a Better Life.

“More efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable agrifood systems are critical for healthy diets and improved nutrition,” Qu added.

FAO’s pledges

The Director-General outlined FAO’s relevant pledge commitments:

At least 90 percent of its new action plans related to agrifood systems during the next four years will include enabling access to healthy diets as a priority.

Increase the share of nutrition-sensitive projects and programs by 50 percent by 2025, maintaining or increasing this share through 2030.

Support Members, upon their request, in the implementation of the Voluntary Code of Conduct for Food Loss and Waste Reduction.

Ensure that at least 90 percent of FAO country offices will, by 2025, be actively providing support to Members in their efforts to achieve FAO’s vision of a world where all people have access to healthy diets from agrifood systems.

The challenge in Africa

FAO is committed to support the advancement of nutrition in Africa, where nearly 60 percent of the population were affected by moderate or severe food insecurity in 2020, and even more are unable to afford healthy foods.

At a side event on “Human Security and Nutrition,” Director-General Qu noted that a large share of the world’s poorest people live in rural areas and that increased urbanization on the continent as an “opportunity to leverage urban demand for food to improve rural-urban and territorial linkages.”

The Director-General extolled the partnership with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and urged the development of further innovative perspectives.

JICA President Kitaoka Shinichi gave the keynote address, urging a plurality of strategies to promote nutrition with each stakeholder and organization leveraging their own comparative advantages. Information sharing is the vital foundation of such partnerships, he said.

In the question-and-answer segment, Director-General Qu reflected on his experiences as vice governor of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, one of China’s landlocked and poorest areas, and said nutrition promotion can become a driving for local development.

While appealing for more resources from donor nations, he urged a focus on “concrete, tangible and deliverable” projects whose impact should be judged by actual examples.

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