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4 December 2013 


148th Session of the FAO Council

Closing Statement

Mr Wilfred Ngirwa, Independent Chairperson of the Council,

Ministers, Members of the Council, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I want to begin by paying tribute to Nelson Mandela, a giant of our time.

I express our condolences to the people and government of South Africa.

Madiba, as he was known with respect and affection, left us yesterday.

But his life, dedicated to elevating the condition and dignity of the oppressed, the marginalised and the voiceless, will always inspire all of us.  

Members of Council,

I want to congratulate all of you on the conclusion of this successful meeting.

In particular, I wish to applaud Mr Ngirwa for the skillful conduction of his first 5-day Council session and thank Ambassador Briscoe for the adoption by acclamation of the report proposed by the Drafting Committee.

As I told you on Monday, our corporate focus is now shifting from preparation to delivery.

We are already fully concentrated in the implementation of the Program of Work and Budget, built from the Reviewed Strategic Framework.

The PWB represents your collective will. It is what we will implement. There is no room for individual agendas anymore.

We will report to you at the next Council. We will inform you of ongoing work in our informal seminars.

We will continue to be as open and transparent as we have been until today.

I ask you to trust us with its implementation. 

Ladies and gentlemen,

I want to take this opportunity to thank FAO staff for the efforts they are putting into this process, for their dedication and hard work.

I also want to acknowledge the more constructive attitude that staff representative bodies have shown of late.

Let me thank Members for accepting, again, my request that Staff Representative Bodies be heard at Council.

I have to say that I was happy to learn that I am no longer considered, and I quote from the statement they delivered at Conference, “unethical, cold-hearted and exploitative”.

To be respected, one must first show respect. The statement delivered this week by the staff bodies is a sign that they are willing to act in a respectful manner.

On Management’s behalf, let me assure you that we will continue to engage the staff representative bodies.

This engagement is having positive results. The FAO Corporate Mobility Scheme was published this week. The redeployment process is progressing well.

We are also close to finalizing changes to the internal Professional Staff Selection Committee, the PSSC.

Today, there is one PSSC for all of FAO. It is a centralized and time consuming approach that creates bottlenecks in the recruitment process. We have lost more than one good candidate because of this.

We will move towards a decentralized, technical and efficient approach, with one PSSC for each department and region, with observers from staff and human resources.

This will raise the value added by the selection committees, speed up the recruitment process and ensure the highest degree of transparency.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The future we want, of a world free from want, does not have to remain a dream forever.

It is true: we are being ambitious. But we are also humble enough to know that FAO will not make this happen alone.

We need to work in true partnership to reach the goals that we have set. Partnership with the Rome-based Agencies and the UN System at large. With other international and regional institutions. With civil society, the private sector and research institutions. And with you, of course.

And that brings me back to something that I have said many times before: we will not be able to do anything except what we can do together.

I wish you happy holidays and look forward to continue working with you next year. Thank you very much for your attention.