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Director-General  José Graziano da Silva
A statement by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva
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7 July 2017

40th Session of FAO Conference


Mr Emmanuel F. Piñol, Secretary of Agriculture, Philippines, Chairperson of the 40th Session of the FAO Conference;

Mr. Wilfred J. Ngirwa, Independent Chairperson of the Council to the 40th Session of the FAO Conference;

Mr Hamoud Al Hasni, Director-General of Agriculture and Livestock Research Department, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries of Oman, Chairperson of Commission I;

Mr Johannes Petrus Hoogeveen, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to FAO, Chairperson of Commission II;

Honourable Ministers;


Ladies and gentlemen;

We have had a very intense and productive week.

I believe we could say that over the last five days, FAO has been at the center of the international debate on sustainable development.

We have had the presence of heads of State and Government, 105 ministers and vice-ministers, parliamentarians, high representatives of international organizations and regional bodies, the President of the United Nations General Assembly, and even a Princess. A total of 1.150 delegates from 181 countries.

All of you came to FAO to present ideas, and reinforce your strong commitments to eradicate poverty, hunger and malnutrition, and to promote sustainable agriculture development.  

The presentations and discussions were of high quality, especially in the 19 side events.

I managed to participate in 12 of them, in the midst of the 70 bilateral meetings that I had.

I was impressed, for instance, with the engagement of the Near East and North African countries in finding ways to face water scarcity.

14 Ministers from the NENA region attended the side event on this topic. They debated openly on how to improve collaboration, despite any political differences. 

I noticed the pride and satisfaction of many ministers and vice ministers in showing the good results of the programmes funded by their countries and implemented by FAO.

We saw the Minister of Post-Conflict of Colombia highlighting how food, agriculture and rural development are key elements for the peace process in that country.

We saw the Prime Minister of Italy pointing out the importance of rural development in the fight against distress migration in Africa.

We saw how confident the SIDS countries were with the launch of the Global Action Programme on Food Security and Nutrition.

At least six side events were related to climate change, the central theme of this Conference.

We heard your call for FAO to reinforce its work on climate change.

Nourishing people must go hand in hand with nurturing the planet.

We need to implement sustainable food systems that provide nutritious and accessible food, ecosystem services and climate-change resilience to all, now and in the future.


All of these confirm that food and agriculture are central elements for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

And also indicate the high expectations that Members place on FAO for more assistance, and to deliver more results.

Furthermore, FAO today not only plays its traditional and fundamental role as a neutral forum for discussions and negotiations; but FAO is also one of the key global stages that help to set the international agenda. 

Our next high level meeting will take place on October 16th, in celebration of the World Food Day 2017, and it will focus on issues linked to migration.

Also on this date, the G7 Ministers of Agriculture will meet here at FAO, as announced by Prime Minister Gentiloni. And we will also be graced by the presence of Pope Francis, as informed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

Let me also highlight that the 3 Rome Based Agencies are furthering our collaboration.   

I am grateful that the Mr. Gilbert Houngbo, IFAD’s President, and Mr. David Beasley, WFP’s Executive-Director, accepted my invitation to participate in the opening of this Conference.

During the Side Event on Zero Hunger, you could see how the 3 agencies are working together to combine humanitarian and development actions.

Building resilience and protecting the livelihoods of poor rural communities are crucial to eradicate hunger and poverty. 

This is especially true today, with the increasing intensity of conflicts, violence and the impacts of climate change.

But bear in mind that to win this fight, we need everyone onboard, especially donors. Financial resources must flow to help the vulnerable people that are suffering from hunger. 

Let me also thank the Chairperson Mr. Emmanuel Piñol, Secretary for Agriculture of the Philippines, for the conduction of this Conference.

I also thank the chairs of the Commission 1, Dr Hamoud Al Hasni, and of the Commission 2, Mr. Johannes Hoogeveen, for their effective work.

I would also like to congratulate Mr. Khalid Mehboob for his election as Independent Chairperson of Council.

It will certainly be a pleasure for all of us to work with Mr. Mehboob for the next two years.


Thank you for approving the Programme of Work and Budget for 2018-2019.

I am particularly honored to notice that the PWB was approved by all countries present in this Conference, without any abstention.

The consensus has been one of the hallmarks of my tenure as Director-General since 2012.

Together, we have managed to overcome past divisions between Members.

And keeping this consensus may be challenging in the near future with elections in the horizon.

I am entering now the last two years of my second mandate as FAO Director-General.

And let me highlight that a mentality of early elections will benefit nobody.

For the next two years, I need your strong support to implement the actions and initiatives foreseen in the PWB.

Trust among ourselves is one of the most important things that we have built over the last five years.

Let’s preserve this. And let’s keep the focus / on the substantive aspects of our common agenda

In terms of financing, I am aware that Members are facing economic constraints, but the Organization must move ahead.

I appeal to all Members to increase their voluntary contributions so we can deliver our Programme of Work, especially to support rural livelihoods around the world that are being left behind.

Ladies and gentlemen

I opened this Conference mentioning that the number of undernourished people has risen in the world, especially due to the complex challenges brought by the combination of conflicts and the impacts of climate change.

And I close with the certainty that the political commitment to eradicate hunger still stands strong among all countries.

Let’s move forward together, and believe that eradicating poverty and hunger is just a question of time.

Thank you very much for your attention