World Food Day: FAO wants govts to prioritise water in policy, planning
By Busayo Onijala
Dr. QU Dongyu, Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, says governments need to prioritise water in policy and planning, across sectors and along the water-food-energy ecosystem.
Dongyu said this at the World Food Day 2023 ceremony hosted at FAO headquarters on Monday in Rome, Italy.
The ceremony, monitored virtually by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) was with the theme, “Water is life, water is food. Leave no one behind.”
Dongyu said the theme made the vital connection between water and food, noting that “without water there is no food and there is no food security without water security.”
He shared five key accelerated actions that needed to be taken in order to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
According to him, partnerships need to be strengthened, with governments, the private sector, academia, civil society and all partners collaborating better towards a water secure future.
“Innovative solutions need to be co-developed with partners, including the private sector.
“We also need to significantly increase investments in integrated water resources management and infrastructure.
“Countries need to produce more food with less water, while restoring land and water systems, and at the same time ensure equitable access to water, and increased resilience to extreme weather events,” he said.
Dongyu called for an increase in the engagement of the private sector, adding that they needed to become water stewards, ensuring that water use was equitable, environmentally sustainable and economically beneficial.
He stressed that farmers must be at the centre of decisions and actions, and they must have access to the information and tools they needed, as well as to the latest science and innovation so that they could be true agents of change.
This, he said, included women, indigenous peoples and youths.
According to the D-G, every stakeholder needs to value water for a water-saving society, the food it produces and the planet it nourishes.
“Water is a precious resource and not infinite but we have taken it for granted for too long. Water affects everyone, so we need everyone to take their part on action.
“Today, we all need to embrace solutions that consider the complexity of the world in which we live and the close inter-relation between water, food, health, poverty, the climate crises and the environment,” he said.
He said no organisation, government or institution could eradicate hunger and poverty alone, noting that it required a collective effort.
NAN reports that at the ceremony, the FAO Achievement Award was presented to two organisations, the Sara Bangla Krishak Society from Bangladesh and Farmer Lifeline Technologies from Kenya.
This award recognises professional achievements and technical cooperation in various sectors of agrifood systems.
Dongyu said the FAO awards stood as a testament to the dedication and innovation in agrifood systems, adding that the recipients were exemplary representations of these values.
“Their tireless efforts and groundbreaking contributions have not only advanced agricultural practices in their respective regions but have also inspired change on a global scale.
“FAO is committed to continue working with all partners and stakeholders to build a new era of hope for a better future, for everyone, everywhere, leaving no one behind and the younger generation has a vital role to play,” Dongyu said.