Global Agriculture

FAO and World Economic Forum bolster collaboration to transform agrifood systems

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20 September 2022New York: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Economic Forum (WEF) signed a Letter of Intent today that facilitates more structured channelling of private-sector resources to global causes such as hunger reduction.

The intention enables FAO to better guide the way the private sector supports sustainable development and in particular agrifood system transformation. It builds on FAO Director-General QU Dongyu’s early 2020 invitation to the WEF to work together to protect and strengthen food supply chains during the COVID-19 pandemic. Qu also co-chairs the WEF Board of Stewards for Agrifood Systems, which met earlier today on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

The Letter of Intent legally records the two parties’ shared intention to explore ways of working together in the future around common areas of interest, in particular data and digitalization to support inclusive, efficient, sustainable and healthy agrifood systems as well as the increased investment required to catalyze improvements.

Some 90 percent of the resources needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals must come from the private sector, which consists of millions of actors ranging from family-based and small enterprises to global corporations and industry networks and plays a very large role in food and agriculture.

The collaboration between FAO and the WEF, a non-profit umbrella organization with more than 700 members, will also maximize the prospect that more national and multinational companies around the world will be exposed to and adopt FAO-supported guidelines for better business practices and environmental behaviors, without requiring legions of individual agreements.

The timing is opportune as FAO advances its Hand-in-Hand Initiative, which is based on matching private-sector capacities to the nationally-determined local needs of less developed countries.

FAO will be organizing and hosting the first ever Hand-in-Hand Initiative Investment Forum in Rome starting the week of 17 October.

In remarks made to the Board of Stewards, the Director-General emphasized the need for collaboration beyond borders and solidarity and partnerships around a common agenda, one especially urgent due to the sharp rise – by 150 million – of the number of hungry people in the world since before the pandemic. He also emphasized that many appropriate solutions are needed and that investment is key, stressing the importance of convincing the private sector of the substantial benefits of investing in agriculture compared to providing traditional assistance.

In New York, WEF also held a special livestream event, “Food and Energy: Tackling a Global Resource Crisis”, in which FAO Chief Economist Maximo Torero participated.

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