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Director General  José Graziano da Silva

FAO Chief at UN General Assembly: we need an all-out effort to end hunger and malnutrition

Graziano da Silva puts hunger at heart of discussions during week in New York
Ben Hartschuh / GHPrimeMedia

22 September 2016, New York: During the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN Headquarters in New York, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, participated in several high-level events emphasizing the need to eradicate hunger and improve nutrition, address the root causes of distress migration crisis and combat the spread of antimicrobial resistance, among many other issues.

While addressing the UN summit on Migration and Refugees, the Director-General said that working in rural areas of countries of origin was a critical component of any plan to tackle the migration crisis.

“We must create the opportunities for rural people in developing countries to stay in their homes. Investing in sustainable agriculture and rural development is an integral part of the solution for migration…. This must be a collective effort. And FAO is doing its part, working with governments, civil society organizations, the private sector, the UN System and other partners,” said the Director-General.

Hunger and malnutrition

Together with the Governments of Ecuador, Italy, Japan, Russian Federation and the United Kingdom, FAO and WHO drew attention to the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition. Graziano da Silva noted the complementary mandates between FAO and WHO, stressing the importance of addressing nutrition from both health and food systems perspective, and called on governments to take concrete action on all forms of malnutrition. 

Hunger and malnutrition also took centre stage in the high-level event “Pathways to Zero Hunger, co-organized by the Rome-based agencies and UN partners and attended by the Secretary-General, the President of the General Assembly, the Presidents of Ghana and Togo, the EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development and other leaders.

Graziano da Silva highlighted the importance of partnerships to end hunger: “The success of the Zero Hunger approach pioneered in Brazil and adopted and adapted in countries throughout the world show that these issues should be tackled together, in an all-out effort involving governments, international institutions, family farmers, civil society and the private sector.” 

At the “Breaking the Bread” event co-organized with WFP, Graziano da Silva acknowledged the role of faith-based institutions as “invaluable partners” in fight against hunger.

The implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals was discussed at a meeting hosted by the Government of the People’s Republic of China and chaired by Premier of the State Council Li Keqiang. The FAO chief highlighted the importance of South-South Cooperation to reach the SDGs and recalled that China was a “driving force in the fall of hunger.”

Anti-microbial resistance

The dangers of anti-microbial resistance was addressed in a high-level meeting convened by the President of the General Assembly, Peter Thomson, in which the FAO chief participated alongside Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO, and Monique Eloit, Director-General of OIE. “AMR is a problem not just in our hospitals, but on our farms and in our food, too,” alerted Graziano da Silva.

Bilateral meetings

During his visit, Graziano da Silva met with several leaders to discuss matters related to food security and nutrition and sustainable development.

The FAO Director-General discussed with Queen Letizia of Spain how to galvanize action for better nutrition, in the context of the Decade of Action on Nutrition

Graziano da Silva reaffirmed to the President of Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina, president of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), FAO’s support to advance regional efforts to tackle food insecurity and malnutrition.

With the Prime Minister of Romania, Dacian Ciolos, the Director-General discussed how investing in rural development can help reduce distress migration.

In a bilateral meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Bahamas, the Director General received the instrument of ratification of the Port States Measures Agreement.

The FAO chief also discussed with the Minister of Climate Change and Environment of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, the development of a national food security strategy; an international meeting to combat the red palm weevil; the organization of a segment on food security and climate change at next year's World Government Summit; and the importance of date palms for food security in North Africa and the Middle East.

The Director-General and the President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava, reviewed shared priorities in advancing towards the implementation of the SDGs.

The FAO head and the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization Secretary-General, Michael Christides, agreed to partner to stamp out illegal fishing practices in the Black Sea.

The Director-General addressed with the Minister of Healthcare, Public Health and Sport of Sweden, Gabriel Wikstrom, how to improve nutrition standards and fight anti-microbial resistance.

With the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, Erlan Idrissov, Graziano da Silva discussed the strengthening of cooperation and expressed FAO’s readiness to support Kazakhstan in the food security and peace debate during its term in the UN Security Council.

“The range of issues that the Director-General tackled in the General Assembly clearly shows how food security, nutrition and sustainable rural development are at the heart to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and how FAO is a leader in this agenda, central to the debate and instrumental in implementing concrete action to deliver on SDGs. FAO is not shying away from its responsibilities and is actively engaging partners to reach the future we want,” said the Director of the FAO Liaison Office to the United Nations in New York, Carla Mucavi, reflecting on the mission of the Director-General.

International Year of Pulses

The Director General also took time to take stock of the activities marking International Year of Pulses in New York promoted by the FAO Liaison Office into the United Nations in New York. He visited the UN Food Gardens where a living exhibit on pulses is on display; and ate lunch at the UN cafeteria, which is serving daily pulse-based dishes from the Recipe Book “Pulses – nutritious seeds for a sustainable future” which is at sale in the UN Bookshop.