Food Security: FAO tasks G20 on healthy planet investment

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), has called on the world’s richest countries to invest more on sustainable living, to ensure food security for the world’s growing population.

FAO Director-General, Qu Dongyu, who made the appeal to G20 (Group of 20) environment ministers, highlighted the challenge of having to produce more food, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“Today, humanity faces a triple planetary crisis of biodiversity loss, climate crisis and the impact of the pandemic (COVID-19).

“To have healthy food, we need a healthy environment,” Dongyu said.

The FAO chief also spoke of the need to address water scarcity, which according to him, affects more than a billion people, by increasing efficiency and sustainable management.

Our correspondent reports that almost a billion hectares of rain-fed cropland and pastureland are also severely affected by recurring drought.

Qu however, argued that water-related challenges could be addressed through digital innovation, better oversight and investment.

He also called for stepping up of biodiversity-friendly approaches, including more investments in related actions.

“Current levels of investment are highly insufficient,” the FAO director-general said.

He stressed that reversing deforestation would help mitigate against climate change and prevent disease outbreaks passing from animals to humans, adding that the economic benefits of halting biodiversity loss and land degradation, could amount to 1.4 trillion dollars per year.

The recently launched UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, led by FAO and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), provides an “excellent opportunity to mobilise our collective efforts,” he said.

FAO is calling for urgent action to reverse the alarming rate of biodiversity loss, recommending scaled up mitigation approaches and actions, across the food and agriculture sectors.

Qu emphasised that the UN agency’s work was guided by the need to make agri-food systems more efficient, resilient, inclusive and sustainable – all with the aim of achieving the so-called “four betters”: better production, nutrition, environment and life, leaving no one behind.

The World Food Forum (WFF) – announced on Thursday, the launch of an international competition, in partnership with the non-profit Extreme Tech Challenge (XTC), to support and showcase entrepreneurs harnessing technology, would drive the sustainable transformation of agri-food systems, to end world hunger.

The WFF – created for and led by the Food and Agriculture’s (FAO) Youth Committee – Startup Innovation Awards, would be presented to the successful contestants who had built companies aligned to the “four betters”, the FAO said.

“The Extreme Tech Challenge, AgTech, Food and Water competition category directly addresses FAO’s mission to defeat hunger worldwide and to achieve high-quality food security for all,” said FAO Deputy Director-General, Beth Bechdol.

“We are thrilled to join XTC in this partnership, and to leverage their extraordinary pool of transformative startups to make material impact on both our organisations’ sustained efforts to tackle this global challenge,” Bechdol added.

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