2 October 2020, Rome/Brussels - The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and CropLife International today renewed and strengthened their commitment to work together and find new ways to transform agri-food systems and promote rural development through on the ground investment and innovation.
During a virtual meeting, FAO Director-General, QU Dongyu, and Giulia Di Tommaso, the President and Chief Executive Officer of CropLife International, signed a Letter of Intent to explore new partnerships between the UN Agency and the private sector. It was the first time that a FAO Director-General delivered a keynote speech to the Board of Directors of CropLife International.
In his opening remarks, Qu stressed the importance of having the private sector onboard in the adoption of concrete steps towards agri-food systems transformation and highlighted the potential of digital technologies in this regard.
"Digitalization is a real engine to transform agri-food systems, from production through processing to the market," he said, noting that digital technologies can remodel agri-food systems so that production and trade would be driven by consumers. This would also reduce the impact of food loss and waste.
Qu pointed out that FAO has become more and more digital, and it is working towards the implementation of the International Platform for Digital Food and Agriculture, as he invited CropLife International members to work with FAO and its Members.
Referring to the agreement Giulia Di Tommaso described it as a "milestone for both our organizations" saying it would reinforce the common goal shared by FAO and CropLife International to build sustainable food systems, boost farmer resilience to climate change and address zero hunger.
The Director-General also stressed that FAO's Hand-in-Hand initiative, a country-owned and country-led initiative now operating in 22 countries, needed partners such as CropLife International and its members to drive it forward by contributing valuable technical knowledge, practical know-how and capital.
Hand-in-Hand brings together public and private donors in a matchmaking process to support rural development and eradicate poverty in the world's most vulnerable countries in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. "FAO is the facilitator, we are the matchmaker," Qu said.
Beth Bechdol, FAO Deputy Director-General, told the meeting FAO was looking for "on the ground impact" and the UN agency was focused on opening new channels of communication for private sector partners with FAO's country offices and national governments.
She said that FAO is undergoing a cultural change, becoming more dynamic, forward-looking and opening up to new ways of work and collaboration. In this sense, Bechdol mentioned that the Organization is developing a new strategy for partnerships with the private sector, which will be submitted to evaluation of FAO Members before the end of 2020.
CropLife International board members were enthusiastic about strengthening the organization's relationship with FAO. Liam Condon, chairman of the CropLife International board, described today's meeting as the start of a new journey.
Condon, went on to stress the importance of assisting smallholder farmers, saying there was a lot more companies could do together rather than individually, particularly by engaging with FAO and its technical expertise.
CropLife International is a trade association, which promotes agricultural technologies such as pesticides and plant biotechnology. Its members have been working with FAO on a number of initiatives such as improving pesticide management and global action to tackle Fall Armyworm.