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

Youth Committee 1st Anniversary Celebration Event

Opening Remarks 

Dr. QU Dongyu, Director-General, FAO 

13:00 (Rome Time) 18 November 2020

As delivered



Dear colleagues

Ladies and gentlemen, 

1. From day one as Director-General of FAO, I have been committed to improving staff morale by a package of solutions, by creating a new FAO while it is a good place to work. 

2. One of the priorities is to cultivate young talent within the Organization, to assisting young employees in accumulating diverse professional experiences in FAO, and to enhancing dialogue and work with our Members on youth issues. 

3. Accordingly, in September of last year, I launched the Youth Committee to tap into the potential of young employees as catalysts for change and to build a more dynamic Organization.

4. Young people in the world today are connected like never before. They contribute to the resilience of their communities, propose innovative solutions, drive social progress and inspire political change in both urban and rural contexts. 

5. Young people are our future. To ensure they have a bright future, organizations have to care for their young employees.

6. Around 40 percent of FAO’s workforce is under the age of 40. They represent the future of FAO and are key to driving innovative and modern processes at FAO and in global agriculture and agri-food systems. 

7. I am very happy to join this one-year celebration event, and to thank everyone involved in Youth Committee activities. 

8. The Youth Committee has achieved many notable outcomes and established new and innovative ways to engage young and youthful colleagues throughout the Organization, including:

  • Innovation Wednesdays, which we plan to franchise to the regions.
  • InnoVentures Labs
  • [email protected] initiatives, like the Random Virtual Coffees and Virtual Cooking Classes.
  • Welcome packages for new employees to the Organization.
  • The Mentorship programme, developed in consultation with the Women’s Committee.

9. For 2021 and in the years to come, I hope more colleagues get involved in the Committee. I encourage colleagues at all levels and locations - including managers - to increase their engagement with the Committee. 

10. To achieve the SDGs we must lead by example. We need innovative solutions and we need to act faster and better! 

11. To do so, we need to create a movement of determined young people who view their role at FAO as a mission rather than ‘just a job’.  

12. So that they will feel like me, eager to go the extra mile and move the Organization into the future; a future without Hunger.  

13. In this respect, I would like to share a very important event being planned by the Youth Committee for next year: the FAO Youth World Food Forum (WFF)

14. This event will coincide with the United Nations Food Systems Summit and will serve as a platform to harness the passion of youth, sparking a global movement to transform our food systems through the four Betters (production, nutrition, environment, and life).

15. As a global event dedicated to the future of our food systems, the WFF will bring together major youth groups, top influencers, companies (especially start-ups), academic institutions, civil society organizations, governments, media, the general public and others to drive awareness, engagement, advocacy and resources around food systems issues. ​

16. This one-of-a-kind event will require a concerted organizational effort and the involvement of colleagues from across FAO offices worldwide, coming together under the spirit of the Youth Committee - with energy, creativity, innovation and a big passion.

17. While many achievements have been made by the Youth Committee since its establishment, I would like to stress that this adventure is not over. On the contrary, it is just getting started. 

18. Your activities have initiated very fruitful discussions, shared with innovative ideas and further empowered our young employees to kick-start new initiatives for the future.

19. I challenge every one of you, to continue intensifying the Committee’s work in the coming months and years, to make a big impact on the way the Organization will work now and in the future.

20. Finally, I would like to offer one advice to you: Don’t complain! Just do it differently, innovatively when you are facing challenges. 

21. Age means something, however, it does not mean everything. 

22. We have the natural age, which is recorded by the ordinary days, months and years. 

23. Then, we have the psychological age. If you keep yourself psychologically young, it makes little difference whether you are 30 years old or 80 years old. 

24. We also have the physical age. We have to maintain our fitness and keep healthy, in order to have a strong physical age. 

25. Then, we have the physiology age. We have to stay in health and ensure the metabolism is running well.

26. Lastly, people have a social age. As we live in a society, FAO staff try to make our own contribution to the society by ending hunger. No one left behind! And no starvation and hunger in the world! 

27. Let’s learn together! Learn more and wide knowledge with life-long learning.

28. Let’s think together, thinking widely and deeply. 

29. Let’s work together, building up your team spirit. It is a spirit of cooperation, with your managers, supervisors and colleagues around you.  

30. I need your concrete and deliverable actions to achieve a better world.

31. After one year, you start to walk like a baby. I expect you can run during the second year, to be a fast runner in FAO, in UN system and beyond. 

32. Thank you!