3 February, 2020, Rome – FAO Director-General QU Dongyu met today with Professor Asit K. Biswas, Chief Executive of Third World Centre, at FAO headquarters in Rome. The two were joined by Dr. Cecilia Tortajada, Senior Research Fellow from the Institute of Water Policy, National University of Singapore.
The Director-General and Prof. Biswas discussed the food security challenges posed by water scarcity in addition to ways to address this global issue affecting millions of people and their livelihoods.
The Director-General introduced the recent FAO initiatives, notably the Hand-in-Hand Initiative as well as activities aimed at promoting agricultural digitization in support of smallholder and family farmers.
Qu also highlighted the critical role played by water resources in tackling climate change and ensuring the sustainability of food systems, enabling farmers to overcome droughts and prevent the loss of food production.
In addition, he referred to increasing climate variation, including in rainfall patterns, as one of the major factors exacerbating the impact of the current Desert Locust upsurge in the Horn of Africa as well as a potential trigger of other destructive plant pest outbreaks such as Fall Armyworm.
Both sides agreed on the urgent need to develop science-based long-term solutions to water scarcity at regional levels supported by strong political will to ensure their adoption and implementation.