Director-General  QU Dongyu
            A statement by FAO Director-General QU Dongyu

            36th Session of the FAO Regional Conference for the Near East - Ministerial Session

            Closing Remarks

            by Dr. QU Dongyu, Director-General of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations?

            As delivered

            8 February 2022

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            Excellences,

            Ladies and gentlemen,

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            1. Big congratulations to all of you, whether in Baghdad in person or participating virtually.

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            2. This is a historical Regional Conference - the 36th Near East Regional Conference held successfully in Baghdad.

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            3. I know it is an important Conference because after 12 years, it is the first Regional Conference for the Near East in the region. Also, I know it is the most important international development conference in Baghdad after 25 years, at least at the UN level.

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            4. Your efforts, your contribution will be marked in the history of the Near East Region. Of course, it will also be marked in Iraq, a country with an ancient civilization. It is the time for your region and for your country to revitalize, to enjoy the new life with peace and prosperity, and also sustainability.

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            5. Agrifood systems should and must play a decisive role in the rejuvenation of your region. Based on historical statistics, all the countries or Members can be revival economically between USD 3 000 to USD 5 000 per capita by agrifood systems transformation that will be important for you to maintain a sustainable environment and biodiversity, and also for opportunities of labour-intensive decent job. That is the value-added for modern, intensive farming.

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            6. Of course, some Members are very high or middle high income countries by GDP. However, look at all the rural areas in your region, it is not as good as what we are expecting in terms of GDP.

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            7. You know I am a son of farmers. I always look at the inequality between the city and the rural areas, between men and women, between rich and poor. These are the three real types of inequality.

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            8. We have to address these issues holistically, together with all relevant key partners, not only with the Ministries for Agriculture, food and Rural Affairs, but also with Ministers for Development design, Environment, Science, Education and Investment. These are their duties too.

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            9. Ministries of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs should aim to take a leading role to address issues by inviting relevant key partners to work together, because we are only the window Ministry who takes leadership to address these issues to help the farmers, to help the consumers, to help the rural areas, especially for rural development. No matter whether in developed or developing nations, Small Islands Developing States, or Least Developed Countries they are.

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            10. That is an international political reality, but we are the same or similar, we are all from the rural areas. We have to help the farmers with our enabling policies, responsible investment, innovation and science, and information technology - now we talk about digital technology and big data.

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            11. I am delighted that you got political consensus because you are key Ministers working with FAO, and you are key players to help farmers at country level, which I appreciate very much. And you are also deeply rooted in my personal feeling and passion.

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            12. Agrifood systems transformation can be achieved through your ownership, your political commitment, and your action plans.

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            13. If you do not take leadership and initiative as a first kick off, no other key partners will move forward to the frontline. That is my understanding of your key role.

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            14. The Regional Conference for the Near East and North Africa, after so many years due to historical reasons, has been successfully concluded in the region. I strongly encourage you to have a consistent Regional Conference every two years, to have a dialogue, have a debate, even have a quarrel. Quarrel in words is much better than fighting with weapons.

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            15. Please, my brothers and sisters, take your own roots from ancient civilization, to modernize, discuss, and debate among yourselves to find the compromise and concrete work plans together.

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            16. Globalization is still deeply developing through digital technologies, by new innovation, and by a new solidarity.

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            17. Let us work together. Although I am here in Rome, my heart is always with you, with the vulnerable people in drought areas, in the desert with their hopeful eyes waiting for us to help them.

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            18. FAO is your Organization, owned by you, governed by you and it should be used for your purposes. Otherwise, why should we have established FAO almost 80 years ago in Hot Springs, Virginia, as the first UN professional organization.

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            19. Our mission is unaccomplished, so let us work together and contribute together for the vulnerable first, for the regions who need us, for the Members who need us the most.

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            20. Thank you for supporting me, for supporting FAO, for supporting your people, your farmers and your consumers. Thank you!

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