Rome – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) today formally launched a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Wageningen University and Research (WUR) in the Netherlands, aimed at developing and sharing knowledge and harnessing science, technologies and innovation for transforming agrifood systems.
Collaborating since the 1970s, the two institutions have strengthened the partnership through development of a new MoU, concluded in December 2021.
“This dynamic cooperation offers a unique opportunity to leverage our collective comparative advantages, and accelerate our joint efforts towards the achievement of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals),” FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said in remarks at the event.
“WUR, with its broad multilateral focus, looks forward to joining FAO on a concerted and inclusive interface where scientific understanding can be verified and shared before translation into policies, legislation and public outreach to all stakeholders,” said President of the Wageningen University and Research Executive Board, Professor Louise O. Fresco
Also participating in the event were the Netherlands Permanent Representative to FAO, Ambassador Marcel Beukeboom and FAO Chief Scientist Ismahane Elouafi.
Eight areas of technical cooperation
The new agreement sets out eight areas for technical cooperation: improved agrifood economics; sustainable animal production and health; impacts of climate change, biodiversity, and environment; sustainable fisheries and aquaculture; improved food security and nutrition; strengthened agrifood systems and food safety; sustainable forestry; and partnership enhancement.
The MoU comes as FAO is engaged in developing its first-ever Science and Innovation Strategy. The Strategy will cover all sectors and areas of agrifood systems, including crop, livestock, forestry, fisheries, and aquaculture – from natural resource management to production, consumption, and food loss and waste.
“Going forward, FAO must strengthen its position as a source of reliable scientific information and a neutral platform at the heart of important debate,” said FAO Chief Scientist Ismahane Elouafi. “Engaging on issues that are contentious and have presented communication
challenges is therefore imperative.”
The Science and Innovation Strategy will be a key tool for the implementation of the FAO Strategic Framework over the next decade, feeding into many of the Organization’s flagship initiatives, which are now bearing fruit, such as the Hand in Hand Initiative to accelerate agricultural transformation and sustainable rural development, the 1000 Digital Villages initiative to help close the rural-urban digital divide , and the One Country One Priority Product initiative to develop green and sustainable value chains for special agricultural products. As host of the Food Systems Coordination Hub, FAO will play a key role in supporting Members’ UN Food Systems Summit follow-up actions through their national pathways, including through its work on science and innovation.
FAO also hosts international standard-setting bodies such as the global food safety and quality standards platform Codex Alimentarius and the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), and also provides a range of global public goods, including the Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture (GIEWS) and the FAO e-Learning Academy.
The FAO-WUR partnership focuses on developing and sharing knowledge and expertise, and harnessing the latest technologies and innovations for agrifood systems, based on robust science and evidence, the FAO Director-General said, adding: “Let us continue to work together in an efficient, effective and coherent manner towards a world free of hunger.”