Director-General  QU Dongyu
A statement by FAO Director-General QU Dongyu

The Flexible Multi-Partner Mechanism (FMM) Annual Resource Partner Consultation

29 November 2019

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Welcome to this Resource Partner Consultation, which aims to highlight some of the key results achieved by the Flexible Multi-Partner Mechanism and look for future opportunities for partnerships.

I would like to begin by thanking the pioneer contributors to the FMM, namely Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland – you can see, the other day I had a talk with the ambassador of New Zealand, I said “you are not the biggest country, not the richest country but you’ve done a lot of big things.” Now you can see Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland. Not big countries as well. Of course they are not poor countries. If you have some money, some welfare for society you start thinking strategically. It is good, I appreciate that, their generous support, and also trust and vision. Especially vision.

Now there is multilateralism. You talk about multi, flexi partners, you have to think about the future for multilateralism. For the next generation, 20 years later. In 20 years in this world, UK and Beijing may be 5 hours away, from Asia to Europe, in 8 hours you can go from New York to Asia, or from Europe to New York. Transportation will be completely changed, and the digital world will be completely changed. Infrastructure will change quickly, bullet trains, from Asia to Europe by bullet, within 10/20 hours maximum. Let’s think a bit longer, that’s why I appreciate the FMM pioneers contribution.

I also welcome our two new partners that have recently joined the FMM this year, namely France and Italy. Both countries are key supporters of the UN Development System Reform. That is very good, because we have to reform the UNDS. In fact this innovative mechanism was created 9 years ago, and it is line with goals of the UNDS reform, including more flexible, predictable founding.

On this note, I applaud your foresight and vision!

Furthermore, I am aware that Norway is currently negotiating its contribution to the FMM. I visited Norway earlier this year, and just last week, a mission was deployed to Oslo to help finalize this negotiation and further strengthen our cooperation. I also had a very good meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Development in Norway. I said “please, you are not big, but you can play a big and leading role, with not so big money, you can help set up a new mechanism.”

That’s why sometimes you say China changes so quickly, because we design 20 years, and of course every 3, 4, 5 years we change. Each small sector. If we don’t design, we don’t know which way to go. And there you have real tangible, forcible results. So I look forward for Norway to join us soon as a full member of this mechanism.

I appreciate the commitments of all these countries and their support in providing flexible, un-earmarked resources to FAO, in line with the objectives of the UN Funding Compact. We hope that your support to the FMM will continue in the coming years.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As an important pooled funding mechanism, FMM has allowed FAO to invest in key priorities and critical areas by strengthening the FAO Strategic Framework. For disease – not matter how many years to go, we just change the priority, but disease is there. In any big country, you can do a lot. How can you control the flying insects? At first we can control at the larvae, hatching, egg stage. That’s the only solution.

Over the years, the FMM has funded 32 projects implemented in over 70 countries. These projects have delivered tangible results in countries and globally.

Due to its flexible nature, the FMM has also facilitated cross-sectoral work, simultaneously addressing the environmental, social and economic dimensions of today’s challenges. We can build a stable force together, because we are flexible. I said repeatedly, even within any country, China or anywhere, you have a desk for FAO, WFP, WHO, desk for whatever. You are donor countries, you offer that project to the individual organization. And they cooperate – your budget is separate, your opportunity is separate, and not flexible. If you give 10 percent or 20 percent flexibility they can start to move around. Of course you need the audit, you need the financial inspection and monitoring. But you should create some kind of flexibility for the cross-sector collaboration. It’s not easy, within donor countries, in one department.

The FMM has supported the implementation of relevant programme signatures that promote innovative solutions for farmers. Good examples are the support to

  • the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of land, fisheries and forests;
  • the Blue Growth Initiative;
  • the Sustainable Food and Agriculture; and
  • the implementation of Climate Smart Agriculture.

And others, I don’t want to mention them all but the flexibility offered by FMM has also contributed to efforts related to the Sustainable Development Goals, including the measurement of key SDG targets. This was sometimes the time to create a fund from civil society or foundations. Because foundations are more flexible, you just talk with the key person, they say ok let’s do it. You can focus on the big idea and innovation. That was so simple. But with the government you have to follow a lot of rules, retreat, revisit, auditing, everything. They are also doing this but they are more flexible.

The mechanism also contributed to generating key global knowledge products and flagship publications of FAO. These include The State of Food Security (SOFI), The Common Vision on Sustainable Food and Agriculture (SFA) and The Climate Smart Agriculture Source Book. And for this I ask my colleagues to change attitude, not only print hard copies but put it on the web FAO but also on the mobile phone. More accessible. Not so many people now read a hard copy. Ask yourself, your editor, writer, author, how many hard copies are people reading? But you can read with your mobile phone any time that you have pleasure time. So we have to change the way we deliver our information. This is why I am going to start the digital FAO, because our future generation, younger than 40 year old, 90 percent of their reading time is on screen, not on books. Be careful, otherwise we spend a lot of money, you support that but no one will really appreciate what you have done.

Ladies and gentlemen,

FAO revamped its resource mobilization approach to make it more strategic to better meet resource partners’ needs and common development priorities. This was reflected in the MOPAN assessment (2017-18) that commended the FMM.

The FMM is growing in terms of resource partners, geographical coverage and thematic areas. This is necessary, as the nature of global challenges requires enhanced and diversified partnerships.

I hope that Member countries invited today to take part in the deliberations will gather substantive evidence and good arguments to join the FMM soon and thereby contribute to a robust, effective and responsible funding mechanism.

Let me also say to you, Member Countries, you are leading the reform. We are going to implement it, if we have some new, innovative ideas and mechanisms

Core funding, provided in a flexible, multi-year and predictable manner is essential for results on the ground, and it is critical to the UN’s ability to offer the type of cross-cutting, holistic development solutions that the 2030 Agenda requires. So that’s why we want to bring also different departments, experts, to focus on certain countries, to give them a holistic design for rural development and agriculture.

This dramatic imbalance between core and non-core resources is a trend that should be reversed, in particular given the need to deliver on Agenda 2030 and the SDGs.

In closing, I would like to thank all of you for your participation, and I trust that you will have a fruitful meeting today as you share experiences on the lessons learned from the FMM and plan how we can move our partnership to the next level of impact.

Again, let us work together with trust towards a more sustainable and better world in a more dynamic and innovative way. It’s a question for the businesses, and we need change from donor partners and implementation partners.

Thank you.