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FAO-IAEA Joint Statement Seeking to Support Food Security in Member States through Atoms4Food Initiative

Rafael Mariano Grossi, IAEA Director General (left) and Dr. Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) meeting on the sidelines of the World Food Forum, 18 October 2023.  (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

We find ourselves in an unprecedented time, where hunger and malnutrition are on the rise, posing a threat to  humanity.

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) report unveiled that in 2022, between 691 and 783 million people across the globe experienced hunger. This number represents an alarming increase of 122 million more people facing hunger in 2022 compared to 2019, before the global pandemic. Africa remains the worst-affected region with one in five people facing hunger on the continent, more than twice the global average and disproportionately affecting women and people living in rural areas.

Food and agriculture are still facing significant challenges that must be addressed if we are to achieve  our mission to eradicate hunger and poverty, and ensure the sustainability of agrifood systems. Global food security faces mounting pressures due to the escalating demands on natural resources and risks associated with the impacts of the climate crisis, both of which threaten the overall sustainability global agrifood systems.

The urgency of agrifood systems transformation is now irrefutable. Achieving an expanding, stable, and secure food supply capable of meeting the challenges requires more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agrifood systems for the Four Betters: better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life, leaving no one behind.  

Science, technology and innovation (STI) is indispensable for achieving a world free from hunger and malnutrition. STI has the capacity to address the four dimensions of food security, including food availability, accessibility, utilization and stability, as well as affordability.

The Joint FAO/IAEA Centre of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture is unique in the UN System, combining complementary mandates, common objectives, joint programming, co-funding and coordinated management. Leveraging its associated laboratories, it serves as a powerful example of interagency cooperation within the UN family, demonstrating remarkable synergy in action.

To further strengthen the strategic partnership between  FAO and IAEA, the two organizations jointly launched the flagship initiative on food security – Atoms4Food.

The Atoms4Food Initiative seeks to provide Member States with ground-breaking solutions, tailored to their specific needs and circumstances, by harnessing the advantages of nuclear techniques along with other advanced technologies.

The Initiative will focus on the role of these technologies as drivers of agrifood systems transformation in various areas, including cropping systems, livestock productivity, natural resource management, and food safety, in order to adapt to a rapidly changing climate and anthropogenic impacts, to better support  Member States to achieve the SDGs.

Partnership and collaboration will be the cornerstone for implementing the Initiative. Collaborating with traditional and non-traditional partners , including other UN Agencies, Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), International Financial Institutions, development agencies, foundations, industry, national academia and research institutions, and other relevant partners, will contribute to the long-term sustainability of the Initiative’s outcomes.

Together, and with Atoms4Food adding a new impetus, FAO and IAEA remain committed to elevate their long-standing strategic partnership towards achieving common goals, seeking to foster a multi-disciplinary approach to develop a holistic Action Plan addressing the challenges to food security and expediting progress towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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