Director-General  QU Dongyu

Director-General updates Member States on FAO’s path forward


26 November, 2019, Rome - FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu invited Permanent Representatives to an Informal Seminar on Monday to pave the way for an efficient FAO Council session next week, when key institutional decisions and budget allocations will be made.

The Director-General referred to FAO’s new Hand-In-Hand Initiative, noting that it was generating a “large number of positive reactions and confirmations of interest” from member states, the private sector, academia and multilateral institutions.. “We have started receiving confirmations from recipient and donor countries concerning the matchmaking they wish to see within the framework of the initiative,” he added. More than a dozen countries have sent written confirmations of their interest in the Hand-in-Hand Initiative, the precise details of which are being hammered out on the basis of the Director-General’s numerous meetings with interested parties.

In an unprecedented outreach campaign, the Director-General has since taking office on 1 August met with 19 heads of state and government, 40 Ministers, 36 Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives as well as 40 senior officials and leaders of United Nations agencies, including its Secretary General.

It has been four years since the international community agreed on the Sustainable Development Goals, and “we need some focused action,” Qu said.  “You can’t be perfect before you go out there but you do need to start.”

“I think it’s very beautiful for us to work really hand in hand on a specific programme,” he added, noting that FAO’s Global Action on Fall Armyworm will be one of the specific areas for the initiative’s enactment.

Broader efforts at resource mobilization for FAO’s work have led to “positive and considerable” results, the Director-General said, noting FAO is now leading a project portfolio worth $1.153 billion between the Global Environmental Facility and the Green Climate Fund alone. More approvals are on the way and, critically, most of FAO’s GEF programmes are already operationally active, he added.

“The challenges ahead of us are big, but our belief that we will succeed together is bigger,” Qu said.>

Renewed focus on staff and private-sector engagement

Member states have also offered strong support for the Director-General’s broader overhaul of FAO, including the creation of a Committee on Women to bolster gender equity within the Organization.

The recent international symposium on sustainable fisheries also drew praise from Permanent Representatives and should boost momentum going into the COP25 climate talks in Spain next month.

Internally, online voting by all staff, including consultants, has begun on the Employee Recogniton Initiative, a new annual programme recognize the outstanding efforts and to celebrate the diversity of FAO’s employees around the world - both young and senior - as part of the Director-General’s pledge to raise staff morale.

Private sector engagement is a significant focus for the new Director-General, who had numerous meetings with leading players to discuss partnerships. Broader participation in reaching FAO’s goal of assuring food and nutrition security for all is needed as the challenges increasingly center on food systems rather than agricultural production.