WHO, WFP inaugurate innovative project on emergency health facilities

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), has called on the world’s richest countries to invest more on sustainable living, to ensure food security for the world’s growing population.

FAO Director-General, Qu Dongyu, who made the appeal to G20 (Group of 20) environment ministers, highlighted the challenge of having to produce more food, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“Today, humanity faces a triple planetary crisis of biodiversity loss, climate crisis and the impact of the pandemic (COVID-19).

“To have healthy food, we need a healthy environment,” Dongyu said.

The FAO chief also spoke of the need to address water scarcity, which according to him, affects more than a billion people, by increasing efficiency and sustainable management.

Our correspondent reports that almost a billion hectares of rain-fed cropland and pastureland are also severely affected by recurring drought.

Qu however, argued that water-related challenges could be addressed through digital innovation, better oversight and investment.

He also called for stepping up of biodiversity-friendly approaches, including more investments in related actions.

“Current levels of investment are highly insufficient,” the FAO director-general said.

He stressed that reversing deforestation would help mitigate against climate change and prevent disease outbreaks passing from animals to humans, adding that the economic benefits of halting biodiversity loss and land degradation, could amount to 1.4 trillion dollars per year.

The recently launched UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, led by FAO and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), provides an “excellent opportunity to mobilise our collective efforts,” he said.

FAO is calling for urgent action to reverse the alarming rate of biodiversity loss, recommending scaled up mitigation approaches and actions, across the food and agriculture sectors.

Qu emphasised that the UN agency’s work was guided by the need to make agri-food systems more efficient, resilient, inclusive and sustainable – all with the aim of achieving the so-called “four betters”: better production, nutrition, environment and life, leaving no one behind.

The World Food Forum (WFF) – announced on Thursday, the launch of an international competition, in partnership with the non-profit Extreme Tech Challenge (XTC), to support and showcase entrepreneurs harnessing technology, would drive the sustainable transformation of agri-food systems, to end world hunger.

The WFF – created for and led by the Food and Agriculture’s (FAO) Youth Committee – Startup Innovation Awards, would be presented to the successful contestants who had built companies aligned to the “four betters”, the FAO said.

“The Extreme Tech Challenge, AgTech, Food and Water competition category directly addresses FAO’s mission to defeat hunger worldwide and to achieve high-quality food security for all,” said FAO Deputy Director-General, Beth Bechdol.

“We are thrilled to join XTC in this partnership, and to leverage their extraordinary pool of transformative startups to make material impact on both our organisations’ sustained efforts to tackle this global challenge,” Bechdol added.

WHO, WFP inaugurate innovative project on emergency health facilities

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and UN World Food Programme (WFP) have launched a new project to improve emergency response to health crises.

In a joint statement posted on WHO website, the UN agencies said the project, called INITIATE2, would develop solutions such as disease-specific field facilities and kits.

It stated: “Following the recent G20 side event co-hosted by the Italian Government and the WFP focusing on the role of logistics in current and future health emergencies, WFP and WHO are launching INITIATE2.

“INITIATE2, is a joint project to bring together emergency actors, research and academic institutions, and international and national partners to promote knowledge sharing and skills transfer for improved emergency response to health crises.

“INITIATE2 will develop standardised, innovative solutions such as disease-specific field facilities and kits and test these solutions in real-life scenarios.’’

According to the statement, the agencies will also train logistics and health responders on their installation and use, contributing to their capacity to respond in health crises.

“The project will be developed and replicated in countries for relevant personnel, building on past experiences in emergency response.’’

The statement quoted Alex Marianelli, WFP Director of Supply Chain, as saying, “Health emergencies like the West Africa Ebola response and the current COVID-19 pandemic have shown just how crucial working together as a humanitarian community is.

“So, we’re extremely pleased to be able to further cement our role as an enabler of humanitarian response through this collaboration with WHO.’’

Similarly, the statement quoted Dr Ibrahima Soce-Fall, Assistant Director-General for Emergencies Response, WHO, as saying, “The WHO-WFP-led COVID-19 Supply Chain System has already illustrated an end-to-end integration of technical and operational capacities for impact.

“With INITIATE2, WFP and WHO are now extending the collaboration to build synergies among different actors and foster innovation in this critical field, to quickly respond to health emergencies and create a conducive environment for knowledge sharing and skills transfer.

“This is an excellent example of how we can scale and harmonise emergency preparedness, readiness, and response.” 

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