Political will as well as broad alliances and partnerships are key to addressing the challenges of hunger and sustainable food production, especially in a shifting development cooperation context, said Laurent Thomas, ADG -TC, at an ECOSOC meeting last week.
He added that the complexity of the challenges called for a strategic repositioning and a review of the way FAO - and the UN development system as a whole - operate. For FAO this review – undertaken over the past two years - has meant a revised Strategic Framework, greater focus on priorities and results, a commitment to eliminate, rather than reduce, hunger, empowered decentralized offices and greater impact through partnerships.
The meeting, which took place at UN headquarters in New York on February 25th, brought together development partners from UN specialized agencies, funds and programmes, as well as international and regional organizations to discuss ”The Changing Development Landscape. What will it mean for specialized agencies in a post-2015 era with focus on sustainable development?"
It was a critical session for the UN as the MDGs expire at the end of 2015. Member States are now preparing for a new development agenda, with negotiations on the post-2015 framework getting under way this month.
FAO joined representatives from WHO, ILO, UNESCO, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning and the Secretary-General's Senior Adviser on Sustainable Energy for All in the discussion.
Mr. Thomas reminded everyone that food and agriculture, including fisheries and forestry, were at the heart of the sustainable development challenges.
He also underscored the importance of partnerships. “In FAO, partnerships are not an end in themselves, but a means to ensure results and maximize impact and efficiency” .
Within the UN System, FAO plays a key role in strategic multipartner initiatives such as the UN Secretary-General’s Zero Hunger Challenge Initiative and the renewed Committee on World Food Security.
At field level, FAO has been fully involved with the UN country teams’ MDGs acceleration framework exercise, driven by the UN Development Programme and the World Bank to support those countries having difficulties in achieving the MDGs.
“Some 40 countries have already met the target of halving the proportion of hungry people, and it is important to build on those experiences”, said Thomas.
"The immediate priority is to complete the unfinished business of meeting the MDG goal on hunger by 2015. The next major step then is the eradication of hunger in our life time.”