top of page
Search

FAO applauds the EWABELT Project at the 23rd Infopoverty World Conference at the United Nations

Updated: May 24

Mrs Halka Otto, Senior Officer at FAO Liaison Office in New York, on behalf of Director Guangzhou Qu, recognizes the EWABELT Project "for its focus on using AI and the Sustainable Intensification (SI) approach for marginal lands and showcasing how integrating AI-empowered digital technologies into agriculture can foster tangible development in Africa".



Watch the statements by the speakers on our "SI in Africa" Joint YouTube channel


AI-driven solutions have quickly made their way to agrifood systems through innovations from self-driving tractors and autonomous sprayers to sophisticated indoor farming operations that leverage computer vision and AI to optimize crop growth conditions and detect plant pests and diseases. AI-driven farming is real and already transforming the agri-food world, addressing also food insecurity with its foresight capabilities to minimize food loss and waste and improving the efficiency of the food supply chain from farm to table.


FAO - Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations - “supports governments in building inclusive, efficient and sustainable agrifood systems through leadership-driven, market-based action and collaboration, informed by insights and innovation and in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals” (FAO)*. In doing so, it recognizes the opportunities offered by digital innovations and AI and calls for a widespread access to digital technologies for all in order to harness their full potential towards food-security across all regions. 


During the second session of the 23rd Infopoverty World Conference dedicated to the EWABELT Project (GA 862848) on the theme “Poverty eradication and hunger: a first challenging priority for AI” on April 12, 2024, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, Mrs Halka Otto, Senior Officer at the FAO Liaison Office in New York, attested to the efforts FAO is proving highlighting the role of digitalization and AI in achieving safe, resilient and sustainable agri-food systems. 


Read her statement here below or visit FAO/statements.


“We thank the Observatory on Digital Communication (OCCAM) for inviting FAO and for bringing poverty eradication and hunger to the table of this important discussion. 
FAO recognizes the EWA-BELT project for its focus on using AI and the Sustainable Intensification (SI) approach for marginal lands and showcasing how integrating AI-empowered digital technologies into agriculture can foster tangible development in Africa.
As shown by the project, AI-driven farming is already transforming agrifood systems.  
In the context of using AI for the eradication of poverty and hunger, FAO sees both promising potential and real risks. 
AI-driven solutions have quickly made their way to agrifood systems through innovations from self-driving tractors and autonomous sprayers to sophisticated indoor farming operations that leverage computer vision and AI to optimize crop growth conditions and detect plant pests and diseases.  
It also plays a crucial role in addressing food insecurity with its foresight capabilities and in minimizing food loss and waste by improving the efficiency of the food supply chain from farm to table.  
At FAO, AI is being actively deployed in our work and internal management systems. For example, we were the first to use AI in our remote sensing models, and we are integrating Large Language Models (LLMs) into our internal processes and also launched an internal AI community of practice in 2022. 
However, with prospects come challenges. AI is a rapidly evolving technology that can dramatically increase the digital divide. 
The main challenge is using AI to accelerate agrifood systems transformation in a way that does not exacerbate inequalities but rather fosters sustainability. 
Recognizing the benefits and the risks, FAO is an active player in the AI for Good community hosted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and amongst the first signatories of the Rome call for AI Ethics, together with Microsoft, IBM and the Vatican. The call recognizes and assumes the shared responsibility that comes with digital innovation and technological progress. 
Furthermore, FAO champions Digital Public Goods and is firmly committed to ensuring AI models are impartial, reliable secure, accurate, and used responsibly, with transparency, inclusivity, and accountability.   
There have been various emerging AI governance frameworks, and they must be implemented in practice. 
In December 2023, the United Nations AI advisory body published an interim report that calls for a closer alignment between international norms and how AI is developed and rolled out. 
FAO echoes this call to strengthen international governance of AI, ensuring the transformation of agrifood systems leaves no one behind. 
The report presents seven different functions that need to be carried out in order to achieve this, as well as recommendations to enhance accountability and ensure an equitable voice for all countries. 
It stresses AI governance should support diversity, equity, inclusion, and public policy goals, highlighting the importance of data governance and promoting public data commons. 
To conclude, FAO stresses the need to develop AI capabilities hand in hand with AI governance and ensure that it is carried out in practice. 
Implementing Digital Public Goods and projects like EWABELT are examples of how we can work toward an inclusive digital future that contributes to the transformation of agrifood systems. 
We call for universal and adaptive multi-stakeholder collaboration anchored in UN values and international commitments, upholding principles such as inclusive growth, transparency, responsibility and accountability while emphasizing human-centered values.  
I thank you for your attention and wish you fruitful discussions.”

-Mrs Halka Otto, Senior Officer,

FAO Liaison Office in New York


Drawing from the insights emerged from the statements of the participants - stay tuned for more! - OCCAM drafted the Final declaration of the Conference, which includes suggestions, proposals and recommendations at all levels to cope with an ever-changing world where technologies, if adequately oriented and regulated, could be beneficial to a global socio-economic development in view of e-welfare for all, in the respect of human rights and UN principles. 


Alongside it, OCCAM outlined the Plan of Action that encompasses all the operative instances that emerged towards the achievement of the SDGs and the UN 2030 Agenda, dedicating particular attention to the best practices of the EWABELT Project and promoting scientific and policy recommendations for the benefit of the most disadvantaged communities, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. 





**


For media inquiries, please contact:

OCCAM - Observatory on Digital Communication



9 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page