Director-General  QU Dongyu

Director-General shares FAO reforms in meeting with retirees


28 October 2020, Rome - The Director-General QU Dongyu today adressed the 50th Session of the Former FAO and Other UN Staff Association (FFOA), which represents retirees from FAO and other United Nations (UN) institutions, particularly WFP and IFAD.

Qu thanked former FAO and other UN employees for their service and contribution to the UN System over the past decades and noted that in August 2019 he was appointed as UN Designated Official for Italy by the UN Secretary-General, making him also responsible for all UN Staff in that country. 

The Director-General outlined his vision for restructuring the organization and shared the progress of FAO reforms towards making the UN Agency more inclusive and effective through a modular structure. 

Citing the COVID-19 pandemic, the Director-General explained that staff had to quickly adapt to virtual meetings and teleworking while continuing to deliver services to FAO Members in the field. 

“We strengthened FAO Headquarters to be more efficient, more agile and more responsive, and at the same time we asked our Country Offices for more deliverable and concrete actions,” Qu said, noting that the importance of building up coherence between headquarters and decentralized offices. 

The Director-General also mentioned the establishment of new FAO dedicated offices for the Sustainable Development Goals, for Innovation, for Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Least Developing Countries (LDCs) and Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) and for Climate Change, Biodiversity and Environment, as well as the strengthening of the Organizations’ three centres of cooperation – the Investment Centre, the Joint FAO/IAEA Centre and the Joint FAO/WHO Centre.

Qu highlighted FAO’s commitment to cover all areas of agri-food systems, noting that term agri-food systems is broader than food systems, also encompassing agri-environment along with production, processing, marketing, post-harvesting and consumption. 

He stressed that the new FAO aims to be transparent, inclusive, innovative and dynamic. For that, FAO has created a dialogue between retirees and staff, and established a Youth Committee and a Women’s Committee, which “played a critical role during lockdown to keep FAO innovative and dynamic”, the Director-General said.

Qu also noted that FAO now has more women in high-level senior positions alluding to the two female Deputy Director-Generals Maria Helena Semedo and Beth Bechdol, the recently appointed FAO’s Chief Scientist, Ismahane Elouafi, as well as the heads of Human Resources, Greet de Leeuw, and Legal Office, Donata Mary Rugarabamu, and others.

He stressed the importance of team work at the senior level and the need for accountability and efficiency throughout the organization. “We have started a new strategy and framework for better production, better nutrition, better environment and better life,” he said.

To conclude, the Director-General showed his appreciation for FAO retirees, paying tribute to their experience and wisdom, and stressing that they are part of FAO. 

The FFOA was created in 1971 and is open to former and current staff from any United Nations organization or agency as well as to other persons or bodies who are interested in the association.