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Director-General calls on Members to approve FAO’s programme of work

Necessary for FAO to play a more significant role to eradicate hunger

Photo: ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano.
FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva addresses FAO's 38th Conference.

17 June 2013, Rome - FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva today has called on FAO’s Conference to approve a Programme of Work and Budget that sharpens the focus of the Organization's actions to improve the assistance it gives to Member Countries in reaching their food security and agriculture goals.

“Since I took up office, brick by brick we have laid the foundation we need to improve the assistance we offer our Members,” Graziano da Silva told the Conference.

“This is the missing piece that will transform into concrete action the results of the Reviewed Strategic Framework that we have built together,” he added.

To implement the programme, the Organization is asking for a one percent real budget increase for the next two years, plus less than 4 percent needed to cover inflation and mandatory increases of costs.

“It is in times like these, when the challenges are greater, that we need most to show our collective commitment to the Organization and its goals,” Graziano da Silva told the Conference. After successive budget reductions, FAO’s budget had lost 27 percent of its real value in the last 20 years, he noted.

Graziano da Silva also stressed the need to find a consensus on a budget that would allow the Organization to implement the proposed programme of work for 2014-2015, his first as Director-General of FAO.

Transforming FAO

Addressing the FAO Conference, Graziano da Silva highlighted the work done in his first 18 months in office, focusing FAO’s work around five new strategic objectives and a sixth technical objective, approving strategies for engagement with the private sector and civil society, as well as strengthening partnerships with scientific and research institutions, and concluding the FAO reform.

Recalling the McDougall lecture with which Professor Amartya Sen opened the Conference on Saturday, the Director-General pointed out one important change in the work of the Organization.

“If we keep looking at hunger simply in terms of food production, we will not solve this problem, as Professor Amartya Sen reminded us…The world already produces enough food. The main cause of hunger nowadays is the lack of access,” said Graziano da Silva.

“Nowadays, to guarantee food security, it is essential to incorporate the access dimension into our responses, alongside our continued support to sustainably increasing food production,” he explained.

The Director-General also highlighted the increased efficiency of the Organization, which has led to savings of nearly 45 million dollars since his election. This, in turn, has made it possible to strengthen FAO's technical presence in the field and implement six regional initiatives responding to the needs identified by Members at the FAO Regional Conferences held in 2012.

“All this will help translate our work into better results where it really matters: at the country level, transforming FAO into a true knowledge Organization with its feet on the ground,” he stressed.

Commitment to eradicating hunger

The Director-General pointed out that the Conference will also be asked to approve a change in the first global goal of the Organization, aiming for the eradication, rather than the reduction of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.

“It is just a word, but it makes a great difference,” he said.

“The eradication of hunger and malnutrition will pay a large dividend in terms of peace and prosperity, from which all countries stand to benefit. And it is a crucial part of the sustainable future we want.”

The Conference opened on Saturday with the annual McDougall Lecture delivered by Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, who focused on the need for a broader approach to fight hunger, and the delivery of FAO awards, among them to the Self Employed Women’s Association of India and the European Commission, represented by its President José Manuel Barroso, for their contribution to food security.

On Sunday, countries that have already met the Millennium Development and World Food Summit hunger targets had their achievements recognized at FAO.