Director-General  QU Dongyu

2020: The year of an efficient FAO


29 January 2020, Rome – FAO Director-General QU Dongyu has underscored the need in 2020 – the year of the UN agency’s 75th anniversary –to place much greater emphasis on “delivery of more tangible results” and for a stronger focus on transparency, accountability, coordination, evaluation of performance as well as innovation, including digital.

The Director-General made the remarks at a meeting that brought together senior-level colleagues at FAO’s headquarters and – through a web-conference – those in the regional and decentralized offices around the world.

The year 2020 is “the FAO year of efficiency,” Qu said. “Please transfer this message to all employees: if you can manage it one minute quicker, one hour quicker, one day quicker, one week quicker … any activity, any travelling … you name it, that is efficiency,” he said.  He emphasised the importance for managers to nurture team spirit and staff satisfaction, calling it “the springboard” to help FAO achieve its mission.

The meeting, which followed a first session last September, is in line with the Director-General’s pledge to develop a new organizational culture and to promote unity, integrity and diligence among the staff with the aim of building a united, efficient, transparent, and practical international organization. The meeting included 15 presentations from a mixture of regions and levels, with participants summarising the work plans of various departments, their priorities and perspectives.

These included a focus on key areas of FAO’s work such as the new Hand-In-Hand Initiative, which focuses on the most vulnerable regions suffering from protracted food insecurity, and the new Office for Small Island Developing States, Least Developed Countries and Landlocked Developing Countries. Other areas of work that were covered by the presentations included land and water, innovation, private sector engagement and big data. 

The four elements of “action for change”

The Director-General outlined his “action for change”.  “To make change and achieve reachable results on the ground for Member Countries we need four elements: enabling policy, innovation, investment and capacity building,” the Director-General stressed, noting that all these elements should be taken into consideration, when implementing projects.

Qu repeatedly flagged the importance of innovation, which he noted “is not only science and technology… it is innovation of mind-set, innovation of approach, innovation of a business model.” In this regard he alluded to the new Office for Innovation that FAO is establishing and to the new position of Chief Scientist. Pointing to the need for “a one FAO by digitalization”, he noted that this the most economic and quick way to improve operational effectiveness and support governance.

The Director-General also called for a greater sense of transparency, openness and sharing, urging the opening of doors to neighbours, departments and other organizations. He told the senior managers that being accountable was very important because “we are working for the people; we are international public servants.”  All the work of the FAO, he noted, should be traceable and reliable. He added that the Member Countries and four billion farmers around the world were watching. Emphasizing the importance of communication, he reminded all the managers that each and every one of them had a role to play to help raise the visibility of the Organization by helping to communicate and promote the work of the FAO to the outside world.

The meeting ended with a call from the Director-General for a “FAO year of efficiency” for the 75th anniversary. “That’s the best way to celebrate,” said Qu.