ROME, ITALY — The international community needs to find new and innovative ways of working together if it is to meet the goals laid out in the United Nations’ new Sustainable Development Agenda – and eradicate hunger and poverty, in particular – the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva said at the Forum for the Future of Agriculture in Brussels, Belgium on March 22.

Speaking at the annual event focused on food and environmental security, the FAO director-general called on government ministries and international agencies to break through traditional silos and embrace more creative approaches to tackling development challenges, embodied by the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

"The SDGs are interlinked and call for new combinations in the way policies, programs, partnerships and investments should pull together to achieve common goals and produce the most needed public goods," Graziano da Silva said.

Along the way, it is fundamental for countries to embrace modes of governance that look beyond sector-specific ministries, such as agriculture, health and education, to find innovative solutions for complex development problems, he said.

"We must count on a broad portfolio of tools and approaches to eradicate hunger, fight every form of malnutrition and achieve sustainable agriculture," according to Graziano da Silva.

These tools – which include both agroecology and biotechnology – ought to serve the needs of family farmers, whose empowerment should be a central part of sustainable development interventions, he stressed.

"Today, nearly 80% of the extreme poor and undernourished people live in rural areas –– most of them are family farmers who grow food, but not enough to avoid hunger or escape extreme poverty," he said.

He noted that, at the same time, these very family farmers produce the largest proportion of the food consumed worldwide, and underlined their role as "key actors in achieving food security for all.”

"In this sense, it is essential to invest and create new products, technologies, processes and friendlier business models to support them, improve their resilience and enable them to produce more in a sustainable way," he said.