Carlos Watson, Permanent Representative in China, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), attended the 2021 Global Rural Development Forum in Beijing, on October 19, 2021.
Here is the full text of his speech at the forum:
Distinguished participants, experts, colleagues, friends,
Here in Beijing, and online,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you at the International Seminar on Global Poverty Reduction Partnerships during the 2021 Global Rural Development Forum.
First of all, on behalf of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and on my own behalf, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to our partners and co-organizers – International Poverty Reduction Center in China (IPRCC), China Internet Information Center (CIIC), IFAD, and WFP, as well as the participants, who enabled the successful organization of this valuable seminar.
As we all know, poverty is one of the biggest obstacles to economic growth and human development in the world. Ending poverty and hunger are at the heart of FAO's work, and they are the central goals of our member states worldwide.
Recently FAO published the report of "Tracking progress on food and agriculture-related SDG indicators 2021". It is FAO's third assessment of its kind, based on the latest data and estimates available.
The report revealed that, before the pandemic, global extreme poverty had fallen from 10.1 percent in 2015 to 8.4 percent in 2019, which is equivalent to 643 million people living on less than USD 1.90 a day.
Now, the COVID-19 pandemic is set to increase the number of poor in 2020 by between 119 and 124 million people, causing the extreme poverty rate to rise for the first time in a generation, from 8.4 percent in 2019 to between 9.1 and 9.4 percent in 2020 based on nowcasts.
In addition, the pandemic has also imposed even harsher conditions to our world – against the backdrop of the increased pressure on natural resources, regional conflicts, the loss of biodiversity, and the uncertainties associated with climate change.
Furthermore, the economic fallout from the global pandemic has exacerbated inequalities and poverty between economic classes, rural and urban areas, regions, ethnic groups, and between men and women.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
To address the challenges we are facing today, the global poverty reduction partnership is strategically playing a greater role, more than ever before.
Last weekend witnessed two very important days. October 16 was World Food Day, as well as FAO’s 76th Anniversary. October 17 was the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. This year’s theme is Building Forward Together: Ending Persistent Poverty, Respecting all People and our Planet. Only by joint hands, can we end poverty!
At corporate level in FAO, the Strategic Framework 2022-2031 is developed to support the 2030 Agenda through the transformation to more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable, agri-food systems for Better Production, Better Nutrition, a Better Environment, and a Better Life (Four Betters), leaving no one behind.
FAO will apply four cross-cutting/cross-sectional “accelerators”: (1) technology, (2) innovation, (3) data, and (4) complements (governance, human capital, and institutions) in all its programmatic interventions to accelerate impact while minimizing trade-offs.
In 2021, FAO has also released a new South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC) Strategic Framework for 2022-2025. This Strategic Framework intends to raise the bar for FAO as a global advocator, convener, broker, facilitator and enabler of SSTC in the area of agriculture and food systems, as part of the Decade of Action to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, and particularly SDG 2 and SDG 1.
Building up on more than four decades of supporting country-led SSTC, the framework outlines a new and increasingly programmatic, focused, result-based, systematic, quality-assured approach to mainstream SSTC in FAO.
Under the new SSTC Strategic Framework, FAO aims to expand its partnership-base with diverse group of countries in the global South to mobilize adequate financial and technical resources to implement impactful South-South and Triangular Cooperation programmes and initiatives.
Another work worth noting is FAO's Hand-in-Hand Initiative. This is a complimentary, multi-sectoral and partnership-focused approach, focusing on reducing poverty by improving agricultural potential through investing in innovative, inclusive and productive value chains and building human capital.
The Hand-in-Hand Initiative aims to foster coherence and coordination across all partners to enhance investment effectiveness and reduce poverty in the context of the COVID-19 crisis, in the short and long term.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
FAO and China have been actively strengthening cooperation to integrate various resources to support the agricultural development of other developing countries, contributing to global poverty reduction and the Hand-in-Hand Initiative.
As reflected in its support to FAO, China is a strong advocate of South–South technical exchanges and knowledge sharing initiatives. China was one of the first countries to participate in FAO’s SSTC, and has been actively involved ever since.
China contributed 30 million USD and 50 million USD to FAO in 2009 and 2015 as a Trust Fund to implement the FAO-China SSC Programme Phase I and II. This Trust Fund was a milestone in FAO-China partnership. Following the strong success of the two phases, in 2020 China announced a contrition of 50 million USD for Phase III.
Given China’s experience on successful eradication of extreme poverty, as well as agricultural and rural development, China is uniquely positioned to engage in development exchanges with countries of the global South. China’s poverty reduction experience will be an important resource to support other developing countries in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In response to the new priorities on rural revitalization in China, a stronger SDG strategic direction is integrated in FAO’s Country Programming Framework (CPF, 2021-2025) in China, so that FAO could play a more proactive and catalytic role while working From China, With China and For China, accelerate the implementation the 2030 Development Agenda and its SDGs, and help China and other developing countries push forward their indicators.
FAO will continuously work together with all partners to support China to develop long-term approaches and mechanisms to strengthen the organic connection between poverty alleviation and rural revitalization.
FAO will also facilitate support for Government agencies, as well as the private sector and academia, to develop institutionalized programmes for bilateral and multilateral SSTC focused on knowledge generation, capacity building and staff exchange, including but not only limited to the field of poverty reduction.
Taking one concrete example, “Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems” (GIAHS) are outstanding landscapes of aesthetic beauty that combine agricultural biodiversity, resilient ecosystems and a valuable cultural heritage.
As highlighted by the FAO Director-General, Dr. Qu Dongyu: GIAHS sites are great opportunities for rural revitalization. FAO is working together with the Government of China to support the capacity development of member states in the implementation and management of the GIAHS programme.
This July, FAO China and the Center of International Cooperation Service (CICOS) of China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) jointly released the Research Report on Poverty Reduction and Income Increase from Dynamic Conservation of GIAHS sites in China.
Regarding the second Global Solicitation on Best Poverty Reduction Practices, with support from MARA, FAO submitted three cases focusing on poverty reduction at the GIAHS sites. For instance, the cases of Aohan dryland farming system in Inner Mongolia, Jasmine and Tea Culture System of Fuzhou City in Fujian, and Hani Rice Terraces in Yunnan – are all good practices showcasing the contribution of public and private partnership, as well as innovative technologies, to the process of fight against poverty and rural revitalization.
In addition, I am very pleased to notice that, there is one poverty reduction case related to GIAHS, out of the five cases co-produced by the Government of Gansu province, and the Global Center on Development Knowledge Sharing which is newly established by CIIC. It is Diebu Zhagana agriculture-forestry-animal husbandry composite system in Gansu.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As a specialized agency of the United Nations, FAO leads international efforts to defeat hunger. With over 194 member states, FAO works in over 130 countries worldwide to help achieve food and nutrition security for all.
This includes support to small-scale producers, rural women, migrants, informal workers, and indigenous peoples with interventions in support of inclusive rural livelihoods and rural transformation.
FAO will continuously collaborate with all stakeholders to work on furthering the poverty reduction partnership, sharing good practices and experiences at the global, regional and national level, and making vigorous efforts to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, especially the SDG 1: No Poverty.
With this note, let me conclude by wishing the seminar a great success.
Thank you all.