FAO Liaison Office with the European Union and the Kingdom of Belgium

Our Office


The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) with a membership of 194 Member States, two Associate Members and the European Union as Member Organization. FAO leads international efforts to eradicate hunger and malnutrition, and to sustainably manage and utilize natural resources. Our goal is to achieve food security for all, where everyone has regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active and healthy lives.  

The FAO Liaison Office in Brussels (FAO Brussels) is one of more than 130 FAO offices worldwide, working with partners to achieve this goal and the wider Sustainable Development Agenda.

Our Team

Raschad Al-Khafaji, Director
Raschad Al-Khafaji was appointed Director of the FAO Liaison Office with the European Union and Belgium, effective 1 August 2021. He started his career at the United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV) in Austria and worked at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO). In 2003, he joined FAO’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Department at headquarters where he worked as Liaison and Meetings Officer. From 2013 to 2019, he served as Attaché de Cabinet in the Office of the Director-General and, subsequently, became Deputy Directeur de Cabinet ad interim. He was Special Assistant to the Director-General since 2019 until he took up his position in Brussels. He holds a Magister in Economics with an emphasis on International Development and Marketing from the Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien (Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration) in Austria. He is fluent in Arabic and German (both mother tongues) as well as English and French; and has basic knowledge of Italian and Spanish.

Paulo Caruso de Lima, Liaison Officer
Paulo Caruso de Lima, a journalist with a Masters degree in Global Journalism at the Uninettuno University of Italy, worked for Brazilian media outlets until 2008 before leading successful campaigns for Brazilian candidacies to major UN bodies at Brazil's Permanent Mission in New York. In 2014, he joined FAO's Office for Corporate Communication, before becoming Personal Assistant to FAO's Director-General. In this role, he handled the Director-General's personal communication and focused on themes such as the UN System, inter-regional organizations, peace, Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and food systems. In 2019, he moved to FAO Brussels, where he acts as Liaison Officer to the Council of the EU, to the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), and other EU bodies (such as the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions) and also oversees partnerships with EU-based non-state actors. Paulo is fluent in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese (mother tongue) and Italian.

Magali Herranz, Emergency and Rehabilitation Liaison Officer
Magali Herranz joined the FAO Liaison Office in Brussels in June 2023. She supports scaling-up FAO’s humanitarian and resilience programming through strategic coalitions and partnerships with EU institutions, the Kingdom of Belgium and other relevant actors in Brussels. Magali is a Veterinary Doctor with two Master Degrees on Humanitarian Aid and International Development Cooperation. Since graduating in 2003 at the University of Leon in Spain, Magali has spent her professional career contributing to agriculture, food security and nutrition, in or for developing countries. She has worked internationally for over 15 years, including in Algeria, Ethiopia, Georgia, Indonesia, Niger and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Before joining FAO 12 years ago, Magali worked in the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture where she managed and monitored work related to One Health. She joined the FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia in 2011, where she led resource mobilization efforts to support FAO regional and country offices through programme development and management. Magali speaks Spanish (mother tongue), English, French and Russian.

Balázs Hamar, Liaison Specialist
Balázs joined the FAO Liaison Office in Brussels in 2022, where he is the main focal point for the European Commission and is covering the FAO-EU Strategic Dialogue. He has 20 years of experience in agriculture, food and international cooperation related issues. He served for five years as the permanent representative of Hungary to the Rome Based UN agencies (FAO, WFP, IFAD) and for five years as the coordinator for the Hungarian member organizations in COPA/COGECA. He studied at the Corvinus University in Budapest, as a DAAD scholarship holder at the Humboldt University in Berlin and had an internship at the Ohio State University. He holds a PhD in horticultural sciences. Balázs is fluent in English, German, Italian and Hungarian (mother tongue), speaks French and has some knowledge of Russian.
Charis Michaelidou, Liaison Specialist
Charis joined the FAO Liaison Office in Brussels in November 2022 as liaison specialist with the European Parliament, with a focus on strengthening the key role of the European Parliamentary Alliance against Hunger and Malnutrition, of which FAO Brussels is the Secretariat. Charis has worked at the European Parliament in various positions. First, as parliamentary assistant, where she followed the Committees on Foreign affairs, Security and defence, Environment, Health and Food safety. Following that, she became policy advisor working on the Committee on Development and the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, gaining experience in development cooperation and humanitarian aid. Before joining the FAO Liaison Office in Brussels, Charis worked with the Committees on Civil liberties, Justice and Home affairs and Employment and Social rights. Charis holds a Master’s degree in Comparative politics with a specialization in conflict studies from The London School of Economics and Political Science and has obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Political science from the University of Cyprus. She is fluent in English and Greek (mother tongue), speaks French and has some knowledge of Spanish and Italian.
Giulia Rizzo, Junior Liaison Specialist
Giulia joined FAO in October 2021 to support the work of the Liaison Office with the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) as well as strengthening engagement and partnerships with non-state actors with a focus on Brussels-based youth-related stakeholders. Prior to joining FAO, she worked with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Partnerships (DG INTPA) Unit in charge of Sustainable Agri-Food Systems and Fisheries, covering the UN Food Systems Summit portfolio and with a non-governmental organization based in Cambodia, specialized in human rights issues. Giulia holds a Master’s Degree in International Law and Human rights from Sussex University. She speaks English, French and Italian (mother tongue).

Capucine Le Bot, Junior Liaison Specialist
Capucine Le Bot joined the FAO liaison office in Brussels in May 2022 and works as a Junior Liaison Specialist. She is supporting the liaison work of the FAO Brussels with the European Commission. She graduated with a Master's Degree in European Public Affairs from Maastricht University. She speaks French (mother tongue), English and has some knowledge of German.

Myrto Arvaniti, Marketing and Communication Officer
Myrto is responsible for public advocacy, communications and visibility of the Liaison office. Prior to joining FAO in Rome in 2011, she had worked in managerial positions in the financial, consulting and publishing industry among others in Paris, Nuremberg and Amsterdam. She has an MBA from the Rotterdam School of Management,-Erasmus University, with a specialization in branding and strategic marketing, and a certificate in Strategic Marketing from INSEAD, as well as an MA in Communications from the University of Athens. She has also given seminars about cultural differences at the Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg . Her passion for the impact traditional marketing practices can have on non-profit Organizations led her to step out of the corporate world and into the United Nations. Myrto is fluent in English, French, Spanish, Greek (mother tongue) and German, and has some knowledge of Dutch and Italian.
Nils Janssens, Communication Specialist
Nils joined the FAO in September 2017. In his role as Communications Specialist, he actively participates in communication efforts to raise awareness of FAO’s work through the Liaison Office’s outreach activities including the newsletter Brussels-in-Brief, manages the office website and works on social media management, large campaigns and events. He also facilitates the dialogue with the Government of Flanders. Prior to joining FAO, he worked with Flanders Investment and Trade in the Belgian Embassy in Thailand. Nils, holds a Bachelor’s degree in international business management and a Master’s degree in public administration from Ghent University and is fluent in English, French and Dutch (mother tongue) with some knowledge of Mandarin Chinese.
Cecilia Casalini, Communication Specialist
Cecilia Casalini joined FAO in July 2019. In her role, she focuses on raising awareness on FAO’s mandate both on a Belgian and International level as well as organizing and setting up creative content for large campaigns and events. Prior to that, she worked for the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and Macao doing many volunteering experiences around the world. Cecilia holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Management from Bocconi University in Milan. She speaks English, French, Spanish and Italian (mother tongue).

Richard Nichols, Administrative Officer
Richard joined FAO's Liaison Office in Brussels in December 2021. He has over 15 years of relevant experience with FAO in the areas of budgeting, accounting, finance, human resources, procurement and operations with sound knowledge of administrative processes and controls. During his years of work at FAO, he trained a multitude of administrative/operations employees and implemented a series of administrative processes in various country offices (Bangladesh, Togo, Cape Verde, Uganda, Guinea Bissau, Ghana, Niger, South Sudan). He is also the responsible person for all of the administrative processes and controls of FAO Liaison Office in Geneva. Mr Nichols holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration (Business University of Costa Rica - UNEM) and a Bachelor’s Degree (BA) in International Affairs (John Cabot University – Rome). He is fluent in English (mother tongue) with a good knowledge of French and Italian.
Valentina Corradi, Team Administrative Assistant
Valentina joined FAO in April 2022. In her role as Team Administrative Assistant, she provides direct support to the Director and handles several organisational and administrative tasks linked to the office management. Prior to joining FAO, she managed communication projects for the European Commission (ig. DG INTPA, DG DEVCO, Secretariat-General, etc.) and held administrative and/or communication roles both in private and institutional environments such as the Council of Europe in Strasbourg; World Bank; the Italian Ministry of Health and Amnesty International. Valentina holds a bachelor's degree in International Relations and two master’s degrees, a first in International Relations and a second in Communication for International Relations. She speaks English, French, and Italian (mother tongue).

Pierpaolo Piras, Programme Officer: Global Network Against Food Crises
An Italian National, Pierpaolo is an agronomist with a PhD in Sustainable Rural Development. His professional career developed mostly across EU institutions, in particular the European Commission, and FAO. In both, he contributed to the formulation of policies, strategies, programmes and projects in the areas of food and nutrition security, agriculture, territorial development and other food related issues. He also provided technical assistance to partner countries’ national policies and investment programmes formulation. He is familiar with development and humanitarian/emergency programmes mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. Currently, he supports the Global Network against Food Crises (GNaFC), which implements the Humanitarian-Development-Peace nexus at global level and in the food crisis prone countries. Pierpaolo speaks English, French, Spanish and Italian (mother tongue).
Bruno Portier, Forestry Officer: Sustainable Wildlife Management Programme
Bruno joined FAO in 2018 after previously having worked for the organization from 2005 to 2008. He is responsible for the RESSOURCE project of the Sustainable Wildlife Management (SWM) Programme and coordinates the SWM Programme in the Sahelian Wetlands (Senegal, Mali, Chad, Sudan and Egypt). Bruno is a Belgian national and holds degrees in agriculture and forestry engineering from the University of Gembloux. He has 20 years of professional experience as technical advisor, facilitator, project manager, researcher and consultant in the fields of forestry, forest governance (FLEGT), biodiversity, wildlife, ornithology, management of protected areas, agriculture, rural development and climate change. Bruno is fluent in French (mother tongue) and English with some knowledge of Spanish, German, Dutch and Italian.
An Dewaele, Programme Coordinator: Biodiversity mainstreaming

An supports FAO in the implementation of its Strategy on Mainstreaming Biodiversity across agricultural sectors.  She works as Programme Coordinator for the Biodiversity mainstreaming Unit under the Office of Climate change, Biodiversity and Environment (OCB). She promotes FAO’s work on biodiversity and coordinates a sub-programme on ‘Biodiversity mainstreaming across agricultural sectors’ in Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Madagascar and Uganda. An is a Belgian agronomic engineer from the University of Ghent with a specialization in rural forestry obtained at the ENGREF in Montpellier. She acquired 20 years of field, policy and consultancy experience in sustainable development and natural resources management in Africa, Asia and Europe. She was policy advisor on climate change in the land use sectors (AFOLU) and on the integration of climate, biodiversity and environmental targets into food and agricultural policies in the context of the EU Common Agricultural Policy and the EU Green Deal. An is fluent in English, French and Dutch (mother tongue) and has good knowledge of Spanish and German.