Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Agency (FAO) has launched a new strategy to move past the coronavirus pandemic and emphasized on working very hard to limit COVID-19's damaging effects on food security and nutrition.
"We must work very hard to limit COVID-19's damaging effects on food security and nutrition", QU Dongyu, the FAO DG said in his opening remarks launching the new strategy: "We need to be more country-driven, innovative and work closely hand in hand."
To provide a coordinate response that ensures access to nutritious food globally, resources and partnerships must be mobilize at country, regional and global level, requiring a $1.2 initial investment.
The new programme aims to mitigate the immediate impacts of the pandemic while strengthening the longer-term resilience of food systems and livelihoods.
"This is how FAO has built its COVID-19 comprehensive response and recovery programme, and today we are asking you to join us", said the FAO chief.
Food security hangs in balance
In addition to being a major public concern, the pandemic also imperils global food security.
According to World Bank's estimates, the economic impact of the crisis could push some 49 million more people into extreme poverty.
Furthermore, soaring unemployment rates, income losses and rising food costs not only jeopardize food access in both developed and developing countries but also have long-term effects on food security.
And as COVID-19 plunges national economies into recession, with more to come, countries must urgently act to mitigate the longer-term impacts on food systems and food security.
Meanwhile existing crises – such as conflict, natural disasters, climate change and plagues – that are already stressing food systems and triggering food insecurity around the globe, are compounding a precarious situation.
Reading the future
FAO is asking governments to better understand emerging trends, pinpoint any lapses and provide technical advice and capacity development across a wide range of disciplines. In addition, it is offering more investment support.
"The Food Coalition is an exemplary approach to leveraging high-level capital and political will to avoid an escalation of the pandemic from a health crisis to a food crisis", FAO Deputy Director-General Beth Bechdol told the meeting, amidst a warning that "immense" efforts will be needed ahead.