Director-General  QU Dongyu

Director-General and senior managers present FAO’s structure and work to new Representatives from Members

17/09/2020

17 September 2020, Rome – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) held today a virtual Induction Seminar to new Permanent and Alternate Permanent Representatives from Members to FAO on many aspects of the Organization’s mandate, structure and work.

The Director-General QU Dongyu delivered opening remarks and highlighted that FAO has introduced significant reforms since August 2019. “A central change introduced was to increase transparency through open and direct communication: internally, with our Members and beyond that,” he said, noting three levels of transparency being improved: between FAO’s management and the membership, among Members, and between FAO and other stakeholders, including within the UN System.

QU highlighted that the new FAO is not only more transparent, but also more accountable, inclusive and innovative. In this sense, he invited the new Representatives to explore FAO’s revamped website, where news and information on FAO’s work can be found in all UN official languages, as well as all speeches delivered by the Director-General. “FAO is a big family, and you are part of that family now,” QU said, ratifying that his “door is open” and he wants to listen to all opinions. 

The importance of promoting transparency and inclusiveness was also mentioned by the Independent Chairperson of the Council (ICC), Khalid Mehboob. He defined his position as a strategic interface between the membership and FAO’s management in order to create trust and find consensus, based on openness, participation and solution-minded collaboration.

Basic Texts of the Organization

FAO’s Legal Office presented the Basic Texts at the Seminar. The Director-General strongly encouraged all Representatives to read and understand the Basic Texts of the Organization. 

“The Constitution of FAO, the General Rules of the Organization and its Financial Regulations are crucial for both the membership and the FAO Secretariat. We need to study and understand FAO’s mandate, its vision, its mission and the responsibilities of both the membership and the secretariat” QU said, noting that the rules and regulations of FAO provide the framework for achieving consensus and making decisions for a better world. “We need to work together, learn together, contribute together; but always coming back to the Basic Texts as the Charter of FAO,” he added.

FAO’s reform and work 

In his remarks, the Director-General also referred to some specific changes in FAO’s structure and work, with the most recent ones endorsed by the FAO Council at its last session in July 2020. All changes have been elaborated and implemented with the aim of eradicating hunger and improving the livelihoods of people “through Four Betters--- better production, better nutrition and a better environment for a better life; all the while working towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” QU said.

He noted that the changes aim to make the Organization more agile, allowing for collaboration across different sectors, to cultivate a more modular, dynamic work environment that can respond quickly and effectively to emerging needs and crises. “To do this we need to break down the silos in the Organization that have existed for a very long time,” QU observed, adding that “that is why I have created a core leadership team with my colleagues, consisting of three Deputy Directors-General (DDGs), the Chief Economist, the Chief Scientist and the Directeur de Cabinet. They support me in all areas of the Organization’s work. So we lead by example, as a unified team.”

Regarding FAO’s work, the Director-General stressed the importance of increasing efficiency, particularly by embracing the digital world. “Our efforts of digitalization were accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to create new business models. So we turned a challenge into an opportunity,” he said.

The Director-General cited the Hand-in-Hand Initiative as the best example of a new business model for collaboration, which uses a broad spectrum of partnerships and leverages the technical and data capacity of the Organization bolstered by state-of-the-art tools and technologies: the Geospatial Data Platform and the Data Lab

The Hand-in-Hand Initiative uses data and science-based analysis to determine where and how actions can be targeted best to reach the most vulnerable, particularly Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Least Developed Land-Locked Countries (LLDCs), as well as those facing severe challenges in confronting the COVID-19 pandemic. “FAO needs to play a central coordination role, globally and at country-level, which is more visible, tangible and deliverable in the aftermath of the pandemic,” the Director-General concluded.

The Induction Seminar included presentations by FAO’s senior managers on: FAO Governance Architecture; Basic Texts of FAO; Structure and Functioning of FAO; Climate Change and Biodiversity/Natural Resources Capacity; Partnerships and Resource Mobilization; FAO’s response to the Covid-19 Pandemic/The Hand-in-Hand Initiative; and  FAO’s Strategic Planning. 

Members thanked the Director-General and his team for the informative and comprehensive induction seminar, and expressed their support to the Organization’s work, in particular, its efforts to respond to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.

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