Director-General  QU Dongyu

Director-General QU Dongyu and FAO Goodwill Ambassador astronaut Thomas Pesquet highlight that neighbours have to work together to preserve Planet Earth


Rome - Director-General QU Dongyu today received the FAO Goodwill Ambassador and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Pesquet at FAO headquarters in Rome.

At the beginning of the meeting, Pesquet presented the Director-General with the FAO flag that he had taken to the International Space Station in his second six-month mission, which ended in November 2021.

Pesquet also gave the Director-General some seeds (tomatoes, peas and corns) that had also been taken to space and brought back to Earth. The seeds will be planted in FAO’s gardens, said Qu.

The Director-General congratulated the French astronaut for the accomplishment of his last mission and said that he hoped other missions to the International Space Station would continue to take place.

The Director-General also praised and thanked Pesquet for being a highly qualified Goodwill Ambassador, who makes FAO visible and is fully engaged not only in FAO’s mission but also in “our small planet mission,” he said. Qu noted that in his speech to the UN Security Council he had highlighted that countries are neighbours on this small planet village.

In this context, Pesquet noted the International Space Station in itself is like a miniature replica of Planet Earth as its crew includes people from different countries, cultures and languages. He compared the crew members as neighbours working together as roommates, with limited resources, who have no choice but to get along and use these resources wisely to make the mission last as long as possible. Pesquet said this is exactly what needs to be done on Planet Earth, which would be like “a giant big space ship.”

He noted that one the most satisfactory experiences in the International Space Station was trying to grow vegetables, and crew members were glad to be able to grow chili peppers, which required a lot of technology. He said that it was not only important as a food growing experience, but it also gave crew members the possibility of having plants around them in a very cold and dry environment.

Pesquet said that he is very keen to continue to support FAO’s mission and contribute even more in terms of advocacy and visibility, and thanked the Director-General for the trust placed in him.

In turn, Qu showed his appreciation for Pesquet’s passion and determination with regard to issues such as the environment and food security. The Director-General also invited the French astronaut to participate in the science and innovation week to be hosted by FAO in October 2022.