Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Thursday, May 6, 2021

EU and FAO call for the transformation of agri-food systems

6 May 2021
, Brussels/Rome - The European Union (EU) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have agreed to increase joint efforts to transform agri-food systems, in order to make them more inclusive, efficient, resilient and sustainable.

The FAO Director-General QU Dongyu and EU Commissioners for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen; for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides; and for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, spoke at the launch of the 2021 EU-FAO Strategic Dialogue.

They also exchanged views on global challenges related to the fight against hunger and all forms of malnutrition, the need to preserve biodiversity and natural resources, as well as the importance of food safety and the One-Health approach for the prevention of pandemics.

Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen said: "In the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people are facing growing food insecurity. This is a complex issue and we will continue working on the world stage to tackle the root causes. Our longstanding partnership with the FAO is critical to help us address global challenges. I welcome our continued close cooperation on agriculture, fisheries, forestry, biodiversity, food security, food crises and food safety."

FAO Director-General QU said: "We underscore our continued determination to defeat hunger and poverty and to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Through this Strategic Dialogue, we are entering into a new chapter of our relationship marked by the urgency to act in a coordinated manner to support the much needed agri-food systems transformation."

Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides said: "The Farm to Fork Strategy, at the core of the Green Deal, sets a strategic vision to transform the way we produce, distribute and consume food. We need to act quickly and globally to make our food systems sustainable. The FAO will have a leading role in the international work to achieve the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. Our joint priorities include the fight against antimicrobial resistance, the promotion of agricultural systems that are respectful of the environment and the prevention of food loss and waste."

Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski said: "I am convinced that the EU and FAO have a common priority to advance the global sustainability, climate and animal welfare agendas. The unprecedented crisis we are living today has only reinforced the importance of working together. As set in the Farm to fork strategy, the Commission is focusing on enabling the transition to sustainable food systems. For instance, the new Common Agricultural Policy will support European farmers throughout this transition. However, we cannot do this alone. The transformation of agri-food systems needs to happen at global level. I look forward to working together on such a crucial topic."

The meeting valued the bold steps the EU has taken with its Green Deal and especially towards sustainable food systems with the Farm-to-Fork Strategy, by keeping this essential transformation at the heart of its core policies.

Participants also acknowledged the new FAO Strategic Framework 2022-2031 as a clear path to sustainably transform agri-food systems, making them more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable for better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life, leaving no one behind.

The meeting looked forward to the upcoming United Nations Food Systems Summit in New York in September and the Pre-Summit in Rome in July, which will aim to spur transformative changes in the way the world produces and handles food.

Taking a global approach

In the context of a deteriorating food security situation globally, a record number of people are facing acute hunger and require humanitarian assistance.

Participants agreed that more action is needed to build the sustainability and resilience of agri-food systems in fragile contexts, along with stepped up efforts to reduce conflicts in the world and ensure social protection to vulnerable populations.

In many cases, the causes of food insecurity are geopolitical, and can only be solved through international cooperation and multilateralism.

EU-FAO Strategic Dialogue

The 2021 Strategic Dialogue focuses on five priority areas: food systems and One Health; climate change, biodiversity and natural resources; food crises, food security and resilient livelihoods; sustainable agri-food value chain investments and policies, and food system transformation through digitalisation.

The EU and FAO cooperate closely on agriculture, fisheries, forestry, biodiversity, food security, food crises and food safety. In the last three years cooperation agreements of a value of about EUR 540 (USD 650) million were signed, many with respect to international cooperation and the response to food crises; the EU and its Member States provide over 30 percent of FAO's voluntary resources.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the EU joining FAO as Member Organization in 1991.

  • FAO Director-General QU Dongyu; 
  • Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships; 
  • Janusz Wojciechowski, European Commissioner for Agriculture; 
  • Stella Kyriakides, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety; 
  • Stella Kyriakides, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety; 
  • Alexandra Valkenburg, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to FAO, Delegation of the European Union to the Holy See, Order of Malta, UN Agencies in Rome and to the Republic of San Marino; 
  • Professor Joachim von Braun, Chair of the UNFSS Scientific Group, Director of the Centre for Development Research, University of Bonn; 
  • Charlina Vitcheva, Director-General, Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries; Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director-General; 
  • Claire Bury, Deputy Director-General, Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety; 
  • Ismahane Elouafi, FAO Chief Scientist; 
  • Laurent Thomas, FAO Deputy Director-General; 
  • Kristin de Peyron, Deputy Managing Director, Human rights, global and multilateral issues, European External Action Service (EEAS); 
  • Beth Bechdol, FAO Deputy Director-General; 
  • Marjeta Jager, Deputy Director-General, Directorate-General for International Partnerships (INTPA).

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