Welcome Remarks at the Webinar: Transforming Food Systems Hand-in-Hand to Deliver Healthy Diets in LDCs, LLDCs, and SIDS

Welcome Remarks by Ms. Fekitamoeloa Katoa‘Utoikamanu, High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States

13 July 2020 
New York, USA

Ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to our Webinar.

I thank all of you for the great cooperation so we can have this event. I extend special thanks to my colleague, the  Director-General QU Dongyu of FAO.

Hunger, disease, poverty are one vicious cycle.

It is a vicious cycle of exclusion too often impacting in greater numbers for minorities,  women and children, and those living in remote areas excluding them from access to health care, education and what we used to call basic needs.

We live in a world where on the one hand some argue for healthier foods whilst on the other hand some just do not have access to any foods.

We have known for decades that low birth weight and undernourishment have life-long impacts leading to high vulnerabilities.

We now are in a century where at the macro level we have no overall food shortages. But that is the 10,000 feet above ground perspective!

The sad reality is that yes hunger and undernourishment have gone down over the last decades but they remain among the main killers and health risks in the world.

Hunger and undernourishment disproportionally threaten the women, girls, men and boys in the LDCs in particular,  and the LLDCs and SIDS.

In contrast to the slow but positive trends of the last few decades, we could already see the initial worrying signs of reversal of this trend in 2019. Of course, total population also has considerably increased over the last few decades.

And then came COVID.

The COVID-19 crisis has meant and means: reduced food production because you cannot move or only with difficulty to plant, to manage, to harvest production. Bringing food to market and let us not even think about food deliveries like in advanced economies, too often means overcoming major logistical hurdles.

Cross-border food supplies with closed borders is just not possible. In short, the pandemic brings new insecurities and has exacerbated the already existing food insecurity.

Policy-making and implementation needs data.

Accurate and timely data is paramount to address the food crisis, and to mobilize international support.

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, or SOFI reports, fulfill this role.

I wish to acknowledge especially the work of Dr. Maximo Torero and his team for affording the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS to be among the first to learn key findings from the SOFI 2020 Report launched today.

Any sustainable development must be underpinned by data and science but also genuine development cooperation where developing countries are partners.

There cannot be top-down, imposed or desk-based solutions. More than ever we need participatory and bottom-up methods of cooperation.

This is essential for meeting the diverse and complex needs of the peoples of the three Groups of countries.

I applaud the new Hand-in-Hand initiative of the FAO to address poverty and hunger.

We all look forward to learn more about it from Ms. Angélica Jácome Daza, the Director of the new FAO Office for SIDS, LDCs and LLDCs.

I very much look forward to continuing  OHRLLS’ cooperation with the FAO for the benefit of the peoples of the  LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS.

Thank you.