Dr. Qu Dongyu took office on 1 August 2019 as the ninth Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and was re-elected for a second four-year term on 2 July 2023.
During his first term, Dr. Qu championed a wide range of reforms and initiatives to overhaul the Organization’s business model, improving efficiency and implementing best practices that support programs and administrative effectiveness.
Dr. Qu strongly advocated for the transformation of agrifood systems to make them more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable and promote the Four Betters: better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life, leaving no one behind with the ultimate goal of helping Members to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Dr. Qu launched six core initiatives during the first term, which have generated significant achievements on the ground:
- The flagship Hand-in-Hand Initiative that supports the implementation of country-led and country-owned ambitious programmes to accelerate agrifood systems transformations using advanced geospatial modelling and analytics as well as a robust partnership-building approach to raise incomes, improve the nutritional status and well-being of poor and vulnerable populations, and strengthen resilience to climate change.
- The 1000-Digital Villages Initiative that promotes E-agriculture, E-commence and E-governance in rural areas for the benefit of the local community, enabling them to apply, deploy or harness digital innovations and technologies, services and solutions, to improve their economic livelihoods, individual wellbeing, and create social cohesion through better connectivity.
- The One Country One Priority Product (OCOP) Initiative that places the production, distribution and marketing models of smallholders and family farming at the centre of interventions. It helps countries leverage their potential and identify Special Agricultural Products (SAPs) adapted to their agro-ecological production systems, and national or cultural heritage, ensuring improved access to stable markets and acting as a key entry point for reaching their defined priorities.
- The Green Cities Initiative that focuses on improving the urban green economy, strengthening urban-rural linkages and improving the resilience of urban food systems, services and populations to external shocks.
- The One Health approach that works as part of agrifood systems transformation to balance and optimize the health of people, animals, plants and the environment. Ensuring a One Health approach is essential for progress to anticipate, prevent, detect and control diseases that spread between animals and humans, tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR), ensure food safety, prevent environment-related human and animal health threats, among others.
- The Blue Transformation Initiative that is central for increasing nutrients, through fisheries and aquaculture, in an efficient way in relation to input and output, so as to allow Member countries to achieve a diverse diet and increase food availability, and especially to improve access to healthy diets.
Before first being elected as FAO Director-General, Dr. Qu served as China’s Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA), where one of his achievements was to promote inclusive and innovative development and make sure information and communication technologies (ICT) were available in rural areas so that more than 400 million farmers could use their smartphones as a new farming tool. Another national initiative led by Dr. Qu was to improve reporting of wholesale prices for agricultural products in China and foster the establishment of more than 100 specialty production areas geared to making local comparative advantages work to the benefit of local farmers.
As Vice Governor of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, one of China’s landlocked and poorest areas, Dr. Qu formulated action plans aimed at poverty reduction, disaster reduction and prevention, women empowerment, agritourism and mutual learning platforms designed to boost trust between ethnic groups.
Before serving the senior leadership roles in government at central and local level, Dr. Qu was the Vice President of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) and the Human Resources Director at the China Three Gorges Project Development Corporation, a $40 billion investment project.
Born in 1963 to a rice-growing family in China’s Hunan Province, Dr. Qu studied horticultural science at Hunan Agricultural University and then plant breeding and genetics at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. He later added environmental science to his knowledge portfolio while earning a PhD at Wageningen University. Being recognized as one of the world’s renowned scientists, Dr. Qu has for over 30 years been directly cooperating with UN Systems, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and private sector in formulating numerous projects and initiatives in eradicating hunger, combating malnutrition, eliminating poverty and sustainably conserving natural resources.
Dr. Qu says he represents the combination of an “Asian soul” and a “global mind”. His motto is “Simple life, but not simple work”.
Dr. Qu is married and has one daughter and one grandson.