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FAO and WUR Join Efforts to Advance Innovative, Strategic Approaches For Healthy Agrifood Systems

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Netherlands’ Wageningen University & Research (WUR) have enhanced their cooperation on innovative approaches to improve lives while safeguarding natural resources in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Mobilizing science and innovation to leave no-one behind

The new agreement covers a wide range of activities including improving agrifood economics; ensuring sustainable animal production and health, as well as sustainable fisheries and aquaculture; mitigating the impacts of the climate crisis; safeguarding biodiversity and the environment; improving food security and nutrition; and strengthening agrifood systems and food safety.

The two parties committed to strengthening capacity building, facilitating knowledge exchange, and providing resources to advance common goals.

The agreement was signed by FAO Director-General QU Dongyu and the President of the Wageningen University and Research Executive Board Louise O. Fresco.

“Science and innovation, technology and application are needed to deliver on common goals of better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life for all by transforming agrifood systems to make them more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable, to nourish people, nurture the planet and ensure equitable livelihoods,” Qu said. “A focused and strengthened framework between FAO and Wageningen University and Research will allow our partnership to better align efforts and resources for greater impact in meeting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals,” he added.

“This Memorandum of Understanding builds on the long-standing relationship between FAO and Wageningen University and Research. We are excited to see a strengthening and acceleration of the collaboration between us, that aims to tackle the challenges that the world is currently facing. By joining forces, WUR and FAO will be able to facilitate the science-policy dialogue and, where feasible, to create impact for sustainable development at both national and global level,” Fresco said.

FAO and WUR will work to strengthen dialogue on science, including by developing knowledge and expertise and bringing to bear the foremost science-based evidence on emerging technologies for agrifood systems.

The joint efforts will specifically focus on zoonoses research which has become crucial due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Early Recognition and Rapid Action in Zoonotic Emergencies is a new ambitious WUR wide research and investment framework which builds a solid scientific foundation on animal-human interactions under the One Health approach. FAO looks to engage in the initiative to assist its Members in preventing future pandemics and mitigating their impact.

Another key area for cooperation is aquaculture. FAO and WUR are beginning collaborations on the sustainable development of fisheries and aquaculture value chains. For example, in the African, Caribbean and Pacific States under the project FISH4ACP, the collaboration is providing expertise on multistakeholder partnerships, contributing to food security and increased nutrition, economic prosperity and job creation.

In continuation of inland fisheries work in Africa, WUR and FAO are developing a document on balanced harvesting management of inland fisheries, as well as a new project to enhance species recognition and specimen measurement of fish in the Nile Basin using artificial intelligence.