Director-General  QU Dongyu

Pope Francis meets Director-General and renews his commitment to support FAO’s mandate


Rome – Pope Francis today received FAO Director-General QU Dongyu for a meeting at the Vatican during which the pontiff congratulated the Director-General for the achievements made by FAO in 2021 and reiterated his support for FAO’s efforts to combat hunger worldwide during this challenging period. 

The Director-General expressed deep appreciation to Pope Francis for his continued passion and support for FAO’s mandate and initiatives, and said it was “a great honour to be annually received by His Holiness”.

The Director-General informed Pope Francis that millions of people had been affected by the pandemic and conflicts in 2021, and that the vulnerable need urgent assistance to transform their agrifood systems to better cope with sudden shocks of the kind witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic and climate crises. 

“Food is a basic human right,” the Director-General said, as he highlighted several key achievements in 2021 of how FAO was concretely fulfilling the guiding aspiration of Pope Francis to ensure “we can all live with dignity, respect and love.” “Your messages are fully conveyed to both the highest political levels and to farmers, as well as public youth at the grassroots level.”

In 2021, FAO actively participated in or successfully organized a number of significant events such as: the FAO ministerial conference, the UN Food Systems Summit and its Pre-Summit, the G20 Leaders’ Summit and the World Food Forum (WFF), in which the FAO Director-General repeatedly called upon the global community to transform agrifood systems to be more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable for better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life for all, leaving no one behind.  

Pope Francis recognized the many achievements by FAO under the leadership of Director-General QU during the past two difficult years. Furthermore, the pontiff expressed his concern that the world is still far from peace and tranquility, due to natural disasters, regional conflicts and political instability which are constantly occurring. For this reason, Francis emphasized that the United Nations and its specialized agencies, such as FAO, have a significant role to play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres being awarded the Lamp of Peace of Saint Francis is a true testimony to the noble mandates of the United Nations, and our collective mission for humanity. The FAO Director-General participated physically in the award ceremony in Assisi in December 2021, to receive the Lamp on the Secretary-General’s behalf.  

The Pontiff further stated that fraternity and social friendship are the ways to build a better, more just and peaceful world, with the contribution of all: people and institutions. Pope Francis presented his personal book “Fratelli Tutti” (All Brothers) to the Director-General and reiterated his unwavering commitment to support to FAO in years ahead. FAO’s Director-General handed the pontiff a his own Chinese calligraphy to honour the Holy Father noting his contribution to humanity and love for mankind (人性之光,普天大爱).

The meeting also provided the occasion for the Director-General to invite Pope Francis to address the 2022 World Food Forum at FAO Headquarters, which the Pontiff was pleased to accept.

FAO is also playing a vital role in the ethical use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and advocating the Rome Call for AI Ethics endorsed by Pope Francis and co-signed by FAO, IBM and Microsoft.