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Dr. Md. Mafizur Rahman, Economic Counsellor and Alternate Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to UN Agencies in Rome has taken over the Chairmanship of the Group of 77 (G-77) and China, Rome Chapter from Iran.  The Chairmanship changes every year based on Regional Rotation among four regions. G-77 Chairmanship handed over to Bangladesh at the first plenary meeting of the year on 18 January 2016. H.E. Maria Laura da Rocha of Brazil was appointed as Vice-Chairperson of G77 & China Rome Chapter 2016. Mr. Daniel Gustafson, Deputy Director General (Operation) FAO was present as the chief guest on behalf of FAO Director General Mr. Jose Graziano Da Silva. The G-77 & China, Rome Chapter represents the interests of 83 developing countries within UN system in Rome.  Mr. Gustafson thanked the outgoing Chairperson for his outstanding performance and welcomed the incoming Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson recognizing the strong advocacy work of the Rome Chapter.

In the plenary meeting, most of the G-77 & China Member States accredited to the three Rome-based United Nations Agencies were present including some officials from FAO, IFAD, WFP, and some non G-77 Member States including the Permanent Mission of Italy to UN. The outgoing Chairperson H. E. Majid Dehghan Shoar of Iran to FAO expressed his satisfaction and thanked all member states of supporting him during his tenure.

He admitted that G-77 member countries have actively participated in different Committees, Council meetings and in Conferences, presenting comprehensive joint statements with a number of key recommendations in Council and Conference to FAO, discussion with UNIDO and WFP.

He requested to the new Chair to continue the process started and to follow up some of the issues needed to be continued. In addition, he also thanked all members for the good spirit of unity and solidarity prevailed during his Chairmanship that was found in the historical endorsement of the Programme of Work and Budget in the Conference in June 2015 and to the election of the CFS Chair (Sudan) in October 2015.

The new Chairperson Dr. Rahman in his speech outlined his vision and some of the priorities for the year 2016 expecting the full engagement and contribution of the member states.  He also pointed out of some progress made towards the MDG1 target by 2015, but in spite of the fact, still 795 million of people are suffering from hunger, forty-four countries have a serious level of hunger, while eight countries have an alarming level still. A level of hunger has fallen by 27% in the past 15 years, but halved only in 17 countries.

He asked what the solutions are. He opined that as developing countries, our major interest is to eradicate hunger and malnutrition. Many component could bring to solutions, like produce more food, increase purchasing power, invest more in agriculture, mitigate the challenge of the climate change, but each one, should be considered a driver for the efforts to gain, in order to go long away from the present situation with no time to be delayed. He reminded all to act properly because the next generation will not excuse us if we failed in responding fairly.

Furthermore, the new Chair explained some of his key strategic goals to be capitalized during his mandate for the year 2016, which comprises the effective participation of the G-77 member states in FAO governance and an effective implementation of the Goal number 2 of the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030, increase the FAO’s Technical Cooperation Programme, strengthen the South-South Cooperation, climate change adaptation etc.

He also highlighted his plan to achieve the operational effectiveness of G-77 and China Rome Chapter by the optimal utilization of time and resources. He requested all member states to cooperate within the full engagement of the FAO mandates.

Finally, Representatives from different regional groups expressed their appreciation, thanked the outgoing Chair H.E. Majid Dehghan Shoar and welcomed the new Chair Dr. Rahman and Vice-Chair Maria da Rocha by expressing their full support and looking forward to work together to have an effective G-77 by the year 2016 and beyond.

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