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Director General  José Graziano da Silva

Director General opens FAO Council meeting

Graziano da Silva stresses positive outcome of nutrition conference (ICN2)

1 December 2014, Rome – FAO Director-General Graziano da Silva today opened the 150th session of the FAO Council, highlighting the successful conclusion of the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), held last month in Rome, and pointing to its outcome documents as the beginning of a global process to “transform this good will into better nutrition results”.

The Rome Declaration on Nutrition and the Framework for Action would be considered as essential pieces of the “Decade of Nutrition”, the FAO Director-General said, a proposal that will be discussed at the next United Nations General Assembly, in New York.

“ICN2 should also help add prominence to nutrition in the Sustainable Development Goals agenda,” Graziano da Silva and Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, wrote in a joint letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, referring to the UN’s new development framework that will be put in place by 2015.

He reaffirmed FAO’s commitment in helping members states end hunger and raise nutrition levels through increased coordination within the UN System “without creating new structures”.

But moving the global nutrition agenda forward also requires stronger governance arrangements for food security and nutrition and the active participation of civil society and the private sector, he said.

“I believe there is nothing more natural than for the Committee on World Food Security, our CFS, to take on a bigger role in the global nutrition debate,” he said, adding that in order to make this possible, WHO and other organizations with a mandate touching on nutrition must join the CFS.

The Director General also reflected on “36 busy and productive months working together,” on FAO’s institutional reorganization.  

“We are a more efficient, focused organization with clear priorities, putting the full weight of FAO behind our work and achievements,” he summed up.

Budgeting for cooperation

Graziano da Silva urged Member Countries to work together on a half-percent increase of the organization’s budget – amounting to around $6 million -- for the next Program of Work and Budget (PWB).

This also addresses a longstanding demand to raise the budget of the Technical Cooperation Program (TCP) to the 14 percent recommended by the Conference.

“As you might recall, the recommendation was first made in the 1989 Conference, 25 years ago, a long time before the first International Conference on Nutrition. And it has been reiterated many times since then.” said Graziano da Silva. “We hope that we will be able to reach this level now.”

This investment in cooperation would help strengthen FAO’s activities to tackle the effects of climate change, he asserted, especially in Small Islands Developing States, which are the most vulnerable to global warming.

Pending challenges

Graziano da Silva also reminded delegates of FAO’s 70th anniversary next year: “FAO has done a lot in its first 70 years, especially on the food-production side. However, ending hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition is still a pending challenge,” he said. “Ensuring sustainability, healthy and inclusive food systems, and improved access to food are all necessary for this.”

Next year will also be the time to strengthen FAO’s ongoing decentralization process according to the Director-General, to further develop South-South Cooperation and enhance the organization’s relationship with middle-income countries.