Investment and Startups

FAO Director-General highlights role of greater investment, policies and innovation to transform agri-food systems

18 September 2021, Florence, Italy: FAO Director-General QU Dongyu today urged countries to act with rapidity and resolve in transforming their agri-food systems.

He made his remarks on the second day of the G20 Agriculture Ministers Meeting, held in Florence, Italy.

Addressing a panel session on what the G20 can do, Qu emphasized the importance of innovation to accelerate the transformation of agri-food systems at the national level, the urgent need to increase investments in the sector, and the importance of enabling policies that can benefit all stakeholders, including smallholder farmers.

The United Nations Food Systems Summit is only a few days away, and the Director-General has already indicated that FAO is ready to take a leading role in ensuring that follow-up actions are implemented.

The G20, representing 80 percent of global economic output and 60 percent of the population, is a key player in efforts to bring together the political, technical and financial support for tangible action to accelerate the progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Italy’s G20 presidency in 2021 led to the Matera Declaration on food security and nutrition earlier this year.

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The G20 Agriculture Ministers Meeting led to adoption of a Communiqué that explicitly acknowledges FAO’s work, pledges the promotion of research and innovation to increase the resilience and sustainability of agri-food systems, and addresses topics ranging from climate change to trade. The Communiqué also emphasizes the opportunity to “work together” through the Food Coalition, a global alliance led by FAO, as well as the G20 Peer to Peer projects, which aim to share knowledge and best practices.

On the margins of the Meeting

Director-General Qu gave a keynote speech to open the ministerial meeting on Friday, as well as participating in a press conference with Italian Agriculture Minister Stefano Patuanelli, to whom he gave a parchment with Chinese calligraphy declaring that food concerns are the top priority of governments, which are servants to their people.

The Director-General also used the Florence Meeting to hold bilateral dialogues and strengthen partnerships with the Agriculture Ministers of Indonesia and Turkey and a Senior  Minister of State of Singapore.

The Ministers, Qu and other delegates also made a field visit to the nearby Chianti region. At the Marchesi Antinori vineyard, he emphasized the important role the private sector has to play in the transformation of agri-food systems as well as the potential for agritourism initiatives.

The Director-General also took the opportunity to meet with Florence Mayor Dario Nardella of Florence, a city engaged in several initiatives with FAO ranging from international development, urban agri-food systems and the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems programme. The two discussed further areas for possible partnerships, such as strategies to handle urban food waste, food education in schools and FAO’s Green Cities Initiative.

Qu also visited the Accademia dei Georgofili, the world’s oldest public research institute focusing on agronomy, environment and diet, founded in 1753. Massimo Vincenzini, President of the Accademia – whose Greek-derived name translates roughly as “lovers of earth work” – gave a commemorative medal to the Director-General.