Sustainable rural development is key to addressing hunger, poverty and the other root causes of migration, a growing phenomenon which is undermining many countries’ ability to achieve their development goals, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said today.
“The migratory pressures causing major concern at a global level today result from war, conflict and political instability, but FAO also calls for adequate attention to be given to pressures associated with the very root causes of migration,” Graziano da Silva told participants at the European Development Days 2016 in Brussels.
Persistent economic distress, poverty, food insecurity, changing demographics and climate, as well as increasing inequalities and pressures on natural resources, are forcing millions of people to seek a better life elsewhere, often abroad, the FAO Director-General stressed.
A central element to counter this trend is to improve for the rural poor, especially small-scale family farmers, access to land, water, credit, markets and technology, Graziano da Silva said.
Organised by the European Commission, this year’s European Development Days focused on the recently approved 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
We also need increased investment in areas that really benefit the poor population. This includes ensuring their access to public goods such as education, health, clean water and sanitation.
José Graziano da Silva, director-general, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation
Graziano da Silva noted how achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2 of ending hunger, improving nutrition and promoting sustainable development practices, poses a particularly difficult challenge in rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia where the levels of extreme poverty and undernourishment are still very high.
The FAO Director-General stressed the importance of helping to build rural communities’ resilience and boosting access to decent jobs, especially for women and young people. He also referred to social protection as a buffer in times of need and as a source of extra income to invest in productive assets.
“We also need increased investment in areas that really benefit the poor population. This includes ensuring their access to public goods such as education, health, clean water and sanitation,” he added.
Combating the impacts of climate change is crucial for achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2, Graziano da Silva said. “The international community must step up to help countries move to the next stage: that is to identify specific adaptation strategies, finance opportunities, technology transfer and robust data collection,” he added.
For its part, FAO stands ready to support its member countries to identify specific adaptation strategies, such as the implementation of climate-smart agriculture techniques and practices, the Director-General noted.
Graziano da Silva also referred to the link between Sustainable Development Goal 2 and Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) which often results when antimicrobial drugs are misused in the treatment and prevention of diseases in livestock, the aquaculture sector as well as crop production, raising the potential risk of emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistant micro-organisms.
While noting that good progress has been made to combat AMR through the World Health Organisation Global Action Plan, FAO, which is working closely with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) believes much more needs to be done, Graziano da Silva said.
“I would like to count on the support of European countries through voluntary contributions, either financial or in-kind,” he said noting that the difficulty of finding well-trained people in this field could be addressed through the secondment of experts at national level.
FAO and the European Union, a fruitful partnership
In his address, Graziano da Silva thanked the European Union (EU) for supporting FAO’s programmes and projects worldwide. In particular he cited joint initiatives such as the EU Food Facility which came about as a response to the 2007-2008 global food crisis, and the Food and Nutrition Security Impact, Resilience, Sustainability and Transformation Programme (FIRST), which seeks to mobilise skilled professionals to provide policy and capacity-building support to countries.