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FAO + Belgium Innovative solutions for Zero Hunger

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Partnership at a Glance

Belgium is a key strategic partner for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), supporting the Organization’s mandate for both humanitarian and development activities. The country is generously funding innovative and critical areas in support of food security, economic growth, employment and income generation to foster resilient and sustainable development, in addition to hosting the FAO Liaison O fce in Brussels. The strategic alignment between Belgium’s and FAO’s priorities is strong, and is the foundation of the partnership.

With agriculture as a key sector in its development cooperation agenda, Belgium places a keen focus on multiple themes at the heart of FAO’s mission: from responding to food security crises and fostering sustainable, economically viable agricultural production, to promoting commercially viable value chains and encouraging digital innovation in food security.

Discussions at the December 2018 strategic consultation echoed these commitments and helped to solidify Belgium’s and FAO’s joint vision, centred on saving lives, safeguarding livelihoods and human dignity, and building resilience against future crises.

From 2009 to 2019, Belgium totalled EUR 163 million(USD 180 million) in voluntary contributions. In the period from 2018 to 2019, the country invested in FAO’s emergency response to humanitarian crises, mainly in Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Mozambique, Syria and Yemen along with early action in the Philippines, Madagascar and Malawi, and regional resilience activities in the Sahel and the Lake Chad region. In the same period, the geographic distribution of Belgium’s contributions shows that the majority (69 percent) were directed to Africa, followed by the Near East (13 percent), interregional projects (11 percent) and Asia (7 percent). Thematically, the largest share of Belgium’s contributions during the 2018–2019 period supported FAO’s work in responding to crises and building resilient livelihoods (60 percent).

Belgium has played a fundamental role in providing flexible funding to the Organization, through the Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation Activities (SFERA), as well as the Flexible Multi-Partner Mechanism (FMM). This has allowed FAO to boost its capacity to develop more impactful ways of working, respond faster to emergencies, and promote early action to mitigate the impact of disasters. Furthermore, Belgium and FAO share a joint vision in bridging the humanitarian–development–peace nexus.

Belgium’s support has been critical to foster a stronger collaboration among the Rome-based Agencies (RBAs), also through its contributions directed to a project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where FAO and the World Food Programme (WFP) worked together on joint resilience programming as well as immediate life -saving activities.
The 2016 Framework Agreement between Belgium and FAO has provided the partnership a renewed and strengthened strategic direction. This has since been reinforced by strategic consultations such as that held in 2018, which o fered a forum for exploring common priorities for future collaboration, also with academic institutions. For example, a partnership between FAO and the University of Liège is contributing towards building resilience in African francophone communities by enhancing technical capacities and expertise to achieve Zero Hunger. The collaboration actively works on the themes of climate change and migration impacts on rural youth, One Health/ pandemic threats, sustainable energy for migratory populations, urban agriculture, and more generally in the fields of veterinary medicine and bioengineering.

The partnership with the Université Catholique de Louvain, also ongoing, is focused on strengthening capacities for mitigation and adaptation to climate change by combatting desertification, through remote-sensing dryness mapping for early warning systems of desert locust-a fected countries in Africa and Asia, and assessments, monitoring, sustainable management and restoration of dryland forests in agro -silvopastoral systems.

The strong alignment between FAO’s Strategic Framework and Belgium’s humanitarian and development strategies in agriculture, food security and nutrition — with a clear focus on digitalization for rural development, inclusion of the private sector, and the sustainable management of natural resources — provide scope for a long and ever-stronger partnership in the fight against hunger.

The year 2020 has been a time of great disruption for the world, compounded by an unprecedented global health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, with potentially severe economic and social impacts. In the years to come, FAO and Belgium will continue to work around common priorities to address current and emerging global challenges. Most recently, Belgium is supporting FAO in the rapid recovery of vulnerable households’ livelihoods in Mali during COVID-19 and early action to anticipate the impact of the pandemic in Haiti, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe.