Director-General  QU Dongyu
A statement by FAO Director-General QU Dongyu



APRIL 26,  2021

As prepared

Mr Khalid Mehboob, Independent Chair of the Council,

Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I am pleased to address you today at the opening of the 166th Session of the Council and happy to see that all of you are well.
2. And my thoughts of empathy and solidarity go out to all those affected by the pandemic.
3. My intervention today will provide an update on developments in the Organization’s delivery and proposals for the way forward.
4. You will see that each decision, activity, or result I share with you today, is not an isolated exercise, but part of an interlinked chain of progress.
5. Progress that is characterized by tangible delivery and concrete actions aimed at better serving our Members.
6. More than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, we are witnessing the scale of the long-term effects on agri-food systems, food security and nutrition situations around the world.
7. Even before the pandemic, the world was not on track to achieve SDG2 by 2030.
8. The pandemic has shed light on many weaknesses in the current agri-food systems, which make up the world’s largest economic system when measured in terms of employment and livelihoods.
9. Worldwide 4.5 billion people are employed directly through agri-food systems production, harvesting, services, processing, and distribution and earn their livelihoods from the extended system.
10. The disruptions caused by the pandemic have put at risk food supply, compromising access to safe, nutritious food at affordable prices.
11. In cities, we saw the suspension of school meals, the severe restriction in selling food in public spaces, significant food price increases, and jobs put at risk in food processing and distribution.
12. Across all developing regions, incomes of rural households have been negatively affected due to reductions in farm and off-farm sources of income.
13. Wage incomes and remittances have also experienced similar reductions.
14. Food networks that span the rural-urban continuum present an opportunity to support inclusive and sustainable rural transformation.
15. Within the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Programme, FAO has been intensively working on linking social protection to agricultural and rural-based livelihoods and focusing on more jobs for women and youth in agri-food systems.
16. We have also strengthened the use of digital technologies to assist smallholders in maintaining production, productivity, and market access.
17. FAO is providing its Members with constant support to ensure continuity of the critical food supply chain for the most vulnerable populations.
18. 24 million acutely food insecure people threatened by COVID-19 impacts have received emergency livelihood support and scaled-up cash transfers in the 34 focus countries under the Global Humanitarian Response Plan.
19. The FAO COVID-19 Response and Recovery Programme is expanding its areas to better integrate the component of Green Recovery, considering the importance and urgency it is gaining at country level.
20. The situation requires not only political commitment but also more financial resources, innovative solutions, and technology on the ground.
21. For this mandate we launched the Food Coalition (initiated by the Government of Italy) in November 2020 together with our Members.
22. The Coalition needs a broad range of partners to be able to make a difference, and primarily our Members to step up their support and to join this effort.
23. Having Food Security and the Food Coalition included on the agenda of the G20, under the Italian Presidency, provides a unique opportunity to engage, raise awareness and mobilize support globally.
24. FAO will be present throughout this process as a convener, providing technical assistance and policy support.
25. The FAO COVID-19 technical teams will help Members to formulate their proposals and to mobilize additional stakeholders for implementation on the ground.
26. Our collective response will define the future, and I encourage your active engagement and participation.
27. We continue maintaining our focus on the safety and health of FAO’s employees worldwide and their families, as well as that of the United Nations personnel operating in Italy.
28. The COVID-19 drive-through testing facility within FAO headquarters has been available to FAO personnel, eligible dependents, Permanent Representations, and Rome-based Agencies’ personnel, since December 2020.
29. In my capacity as UN Designated Official for Italy, responsible for the safety and security of all UN personnel operating in Italy, I have been leading the dialogue with the Government of Italy to ensure that the UN community in Italy be included in the Host Country's vaccination plans.
30. In a first phase, we managed to have 180 front-line first responders (mainly from UNHCR, IOM, UNICEF and WFP) receive the vaccine on FAO premises in February.
31. During a second phase of vaccination just being concluded, an additional 1 000 UN personnel and eligible dependents have been vaccinated, in line with the Italian vaccination plans and also giving priority to UN entities Business continuity management and humanitarian response.
32. With the issuance on 24 April by the Office of Covid-19 Extraordinary Commissioner of the “Order” number 7/2021, on modalities for vaccination for UN entities, International organizations and Diplomatic community, negotiations are now concluded regarding the third phase of the UN vaccination campaign, which should cover in coming two months the remaining 8 000 UN employees and eligible dependents who have expressed interest to be vaccinated.
33. The FAO Emergency Notification System ensures timely dissemination of relevant information to FAO employees, all 26 Italy-based UN agencies and Permanent Representations.
34. In countries, where no national vaccination programs are in place, FAO employees and eligible dependents will be covered by the vaccination administered by the UN according to an MoU we signed with the UN Secretariat.
35. This is a good example of UN wide cooperation as a big family with successful evolving and adapting to the challenges we face.
36. The FAO Crisis Management Team has continued to address the numerous pandemic-related challenges in a commendable way.
37. FAO continues to support COVID-19 medical evacuation arrangements and local healthcare services as the first line of defense in individual FAO Country Offices.
38. From the beginning of the pandemic, out of almost 14 000 FAO employees worldwide, 429 came down with COVID-19, 57 are currently recovering at home, and three are in hospital, sadly, SEVEN employees have passed away since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.

Distinguished Delegates,
39. Following the deepest transformative action at FAO since its creation, we now have an agile, inclusive and transparent modern Organization that is focused on better serving its Members.
40. A modular and flexible structure that allows for optimal cross-sectoral collaboration was established.
41. And we introduced adjustments that respond best to emerging needs and priorities: New positions, new offices and new centers.
42. We did this with a strong focus on FAO’s original mandate and guided by its Basic Texts.
43. As a unique innovative setup, I created a Core Leadership Team that supports me in all areas of the Organization’s mandate.
44. Composed of the three Deputy Director-Generals, the Chief Economist, Chief Scientist and the Director of Cabinet, it exemplifies the new collaborative approach of FAO. No more silos, no more small kingdoms – One strong team that works in harmony and synergy.
45. With another innovative first, the dual reporting system, we ensured new levels of transparency and teamwork!
46. The other side of the coin was our renewed position externally.
47. We expanded our collaboration with partners across the world.
48. We repositioned FAO as an active actor within the UN Systems.
49. We established a globally recognized position of knowledge and expertise in international fora, from the G20 to the World Economic Forum, and beyond.
50. And we were at the forefront of providing guidance, offering expertise and support and making a difference.
51. We do so through our initiatives and activities, our collaborations and projects - at all levels and around the globe.
52. But our work to become a truely world-class Organization continues.
53. Last Year, in January I declared 2020 the FAO Year of Efficiency.
54. 2021 is the year of continued efficiency and increased effectiveness with a strong emphasis on transparency and accountability.
55. We are establishing more coherent regional and sub-regional structures and strengthening Country Office capacities to deliver impactful results as One FAO.
56. Regional Offices are building dedicated thematic FAO Knowledge Platforms, based on regional experience, as powerful cross-continental sharing mechanisms.
57. The new FAO field network will set international standards of accountability with stronger fraud prevention and strict implementation of FAO policies to prevent sexual exploitation, abuse and all forms of harassment.
58. Greater empowerment, engagement and accountability, streamlined processes and improved human resources management will strengthen FAO worldwide.
59. The improved business processes will help us focus our limited resources on delivering critical functions, optimizing FAO’s presence at national level in response to Members’ needs.
60. FAO Liaison Offices will be integrated better with headquarters for global themes and with Regional Offices for partnership opportunities.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
61. We continue building a professional, safe and constructive work environment across FAO.
62. The Human Resources Annual report demonstrates the progress made over 2020.
63. FAO’s new medical insurance plan ensures that the Organization now has some of the lowest premiums in the entire UN system.
64. We have significantly improved medical coverage for all employees, which is particularly important during this pandemic.
65. Coverage for the affiliate workforce, representing 75% of FAO’s employees, has been substantially enhanced, including during maternity leave and optional coverage during service breaks.
66. I am pleased to announce my decision to extend parental leave, including leave with pay for new fathers, to bring FAO more in line with other UN agencies.
67. We continue to listen to our employees and work constructively with the Staff Representative Bodies.
68. Almost 6 000 employees answered a survey held in December 2020 on experiences with remote working.
69. Over 85% of them were satisfied with the information FAO provided and 75% with the overall management of the working environment during the pandemic.
70. We implemented a key OIG recommendation of using thorough reference and background checks, to exclude hiring candidates with a record of sexual harassment, exploitation or abuse.
71. The new Digital FAO is now a well-established reality and global digital services are available 24/7 to support the new working modalities.
72. The FAO Digital Portfolio of 290+ digital products supports the delivery of our work in the field.
73. The Digital Service Portfolio, a cloud-based platform that offers information and advisory messages via mobile phones to farmers now has 94 000 registered users.
74. The Digital Village Portfolio offers 300+ digital products to help driving Digital Rural Transformation.
75. The E-Agriculture Community of Practice now has about 18 000 Members.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
76. The Hand-in-Hand Initiative continues to gain strength as a mechanism for bringing diverse actors together to help the least advantaged, eradicate poverty, end hunger and malnutrition, and reduce inequalities within and among nations.
77. I know this is a bold statement; especially in the extraordinary circumstances, the world is currently facing.
78. And yet: We see historic opportunities emerging along with these challenges and despite them.
79. 37 Member countries have been accepted as formal participants, and several more are benefitting from the methodologies, platforms and support, developed under the Initiative.
80. In 12 pilot countries, we are close to concluding agreements on the nature of the program and the core investment plan supporting it.
81. We are building coalitions with the private sector and with IFI’s to attract investment around these investment plans.
82. In additional 12 Member Countries, we are completing the initial studies and are in dialogue with the government to define the parameters of the national program.
83. The other Member countries are in the inception stage – as they have joined recently.
84. Being a country-led and country-owned initiative, the entry points and the nature of the work vary according to respective national priorities and identified needs.
85. In several countries in Africa, the Initiative is supporting national programs to upgrade value chains and drive industrialization by strengthening the middle of the value chain through agro-parks that enhance value-addition, improve market access and increase returns to farmers.
86. This is the direction taken in Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, and that will be implemented in the Sahel countries, along with resilience-building practices.
87. In the Dry Corridor of Central America, we are supporting national strategies to expand productivity and earning potential of small farmers, fishers and indigenous people.
88. We are also building resilience to climate change and creating opportunities for women and youth, across the agri-food systems.
89. In Nigeria, Ecuador, and Peru, we are identifying high-value commodities and developing the investment plans that will ensure efficient and competitive access to markets – and complementary measures to improve the lives of producers and agricultural workers.
90. For these countries and others, we have developed tools to identify appropriate locations for aggregation and storage facilities; and we are working with governments and non-state partners on related resource mobilization.
91. With the World Bank and Rabobank, we are exploring the introduction of e-warehouse receipt systems for warehouse cooling storage facilities to reduce food loss and to improve price realization and access to credit for crop, livestock, and dairy producers and fishers.
92. In Lao PDR, we are working closely with the Government, the World Bank and partners to develop sustainable corridors of growth along the new railroad that will unlock accessible agriculture, aquaculture and agro-forestry potential to create better lives for large numbers of people.
93. In Nepal, seven investment packages have been identified, for the Climate-Smart Agriculture Investment Plan that we are working on with the Ministry of Agriculture and the World Bank.
94. In Tajikistan, the first HiH country in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, a Geospatial Atlas is being developed that will support decision-making for sustainable development.
95. In the Pacific Islands, we faced considerable challenges finding the high-quality data and the appropriate models needed to identify and assess opportunities and risks.
96. We have therefore been developing strategic partnerships with global and regional centers of excellence for data sharing and technical analysis that we believe will not only benefit the Pacific Islands, but all Small Island Developing States.
97. Nevertheless, we are not waiting to act: we have already developed the first-ever comprehensive agricultural development plan for the Solomon Islands together with IFAD.
98. In Syria, we focus on restoring local water supply and irrigation, recognizing that agriculture has become fundamental for employment and national food availability.
99. And in Yemen, we have started to expand, prioritize and fill gaps in the humanitarian – development - nexus supporting peace. Dedicated diagnostics that inform the policy and investment framework are underway.
100. The Hand-in-Hand Geospatial Platform now has over 38 000 users.
101. The Platform now has its own webpage and requests for technical training by national authorities are increasing steadily.
102. The Terms of Reference of the International Platform for Digital Food and Agriculture have been reviewed by the Committees on Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, and by the Programme Committee.
103. Members have provided constructive feedback and recommendations to ensure that the Platform's foundation fully responds to the challenges that lie ahead.
104. The Terms of Reference set out an agile and targeted mechanism focussing on the potential of digital technology applications in food and agriculture, while addressing its impacts, challenges and risks.
105. I invite you to continue supporting this important effort by endorsing the Platform’s Terms of Reference, so we can move collectively to bridge the digital divide.
106. There is good progress in the implementation of the Strategy for Private Sector Engagement since you endorsed it in December.
107. Just today, we launched the FAO CONNECT Portal, a ‘one-stop shop’ for private sector engagement aimed at leveraging private sector partnerships for agri-food system transformation.
108. On the portal, Members can obtain information on how FAO is working with the private sector and can access formal agreements signed with private sector entities through a password protected login, with more functionalities to be added.
109. Since December, we signed a Letter of Intent with a Rwandan-based medium sized company, and a multipartite Cooperation Agreement with various stakeholders in Ghana.
110. We expect to conclude more agreements with a diversified and balanced portfolio of private sector entities, in terms of type and regional representation.
111. FAO has been very active in providing support to data collection, catalysing policy development and action to reduce food loss and waste.
112. We have included capacity development on post-harvest loss reduction in our largest statistical capacity development programmes - the Global Strategy to Improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics and the 50by2030.
113. We are providing technical assistance and capacity development on food loss measurement to Members across Africa, Europe and Latin America.
114. Together with UNEP, we are developing a methodology to combine the Food Loss Index indicator and the Food Waste Index indicator into a single SDG indicator for reporting on target 12.3.
115. With the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) we undertook a detailed analysis of food losses in the maize value chain in Tanzania and Mozambique and have launched activities with public and private sector stakeholders in Zimbabwe to reduce food losses.
116. The Technical Platform on the Measurement and Reduction of Food Loss and Waste has seen an increase of 419% in the number of internet hits since June 2020.
117. The revised draft Voluntary Code of Conduct for Food Loss and Waste Reduction will be submitted to the FAO Conference in June for endorsement.
118. Food loss and waste cuts across all five Action Tracks of the UN Food Systems Summit 2021.
119. We are supporting the development of game-changing solutions for agri-food systems transformation including ensuring that proposals to address food loss and waste reduction are robust, relevant and impactful.
120. We are also supporting the UN Food Systems Summit with a dashboard of indicators that include Food Loss and Waste.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
121. In the fight against desert locust, our resource partners stepped up quickly and generously.
122. Over USD 223 million have been raised in response to the revised appeal for the Horn of Africa and Yemen.
123. In the Greater Horn of Africa and Yemen, more than 2 million hectares have been treated since January 2020.
124. With the efforts made in the region, about 4 million tonnes of cereal and close to 800 million liters of milk have been protected, with a value of USD 1.53 billion.
125. This is enough to feed more than 34 million people for one year and to protect more than 1.7 million pastoral households from livelihood loss and distress.
126. I am very pleased that the threat of a locust invasion in West Africa was completely averted, and the upsurge in southwest Asia was brought under control.
127. The nations of East Africa have scored major successes in suppressing the largest desert locust upsurge to hit the region in living memory.
128. Since the launch of FAO’s global action on Fall Armyworm control, we have made good progress in integrated control, prevention and global coordination.
129. The 8 demonstration countries have activated National Task Forces and are developing work plans for monitoring, technology evaluation, demonstration and capacity building.
130. Progress was made with over 50 pilot countries through geographic-zone coordination meetings.
131. Technical training workshops and consultations are conducted to develop region-specific Integrated Pest Management (IPM) packages.
132. A Multi-Stakeholder Working Group on Resource Mobilization has been established.
133. The FAO Green Cities Initiative is advancing very well.
134. The Initiative’s Regional Programme for Africa has started implementing green and innovative, quick-win actions in Cape Verde, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique and Rwanda.
135. Tailor-made capacity development is ongoing to integrate agri-food systems and green spaces in local planning efforts of 12 African cities in 2021, with the formal agreements being finalized.
136. In 10 Member countries, we are supporting cities and municipality stakeholders to develop context-specific green city interventions.
137. The Green Cities thematic webpage is available in all 6 official FAO languages.
138. We are proposing a specific programme priority area in the new FAO Strategic Framework for this initiative’s implementation.

Distinguished Delegates,
139. The 1000 Digital Villages Initiative is developing well.
140. In Latin America and the Caribbean, 58 villages in 14 countries are joining.
141. In Asia and the Pacific, several Members including Cambodia, India and Pakistan are integrating the Digital Villages Initiative into their national programmes of work.
142. In Bangladesh, FAO is developing an agriculture transformation plan for agri-processing, climate smart agriculture and digital villages.
143. China provided five cases for the Digital Village Initiative, including e-commerce, drones, big data, cloud platforms, and e-governance, which will be leveraged and shared.
144. In Africa, 5 countries have submitted proposals to join the initiative.
145. The FAO Women and Youth Committees continue to be active engines for solidarity and inclusiveness among all employees and beyond.
146. The World Food Forum - powered by global youth (WFF), a movement initiated by FAO Youth Committee went live with its website and social media channels at the end of March, reaching 15 000 viewers, subscribers and followers during the first two weeks.
147. A WFF Youth Action Assembly was formally launched during the recent ECOSOC Youth Forum.
148. The Assembly is planning several global WFF events and dialogues over the coming months, including a youth event during the UNFSS pre-summit in July, to boost youth engagement and participation.
149. These dialogues are being developed in close cooperation with the UN Food System Summit’s youth stream and global youth organizations and entities, such as the UN Major Group on Children and Youth.

Distinguished Delegates,
150. As current chair of the One Health Tripartite of FAO, WHO and OIE, we are working on a number of priorities including the development of a Global Plan of Action for One Health:
151. The Terms of Reference for the One Health High-Level Expert Panel have been finalized and a call for experts was made in March 2021.
152. We continue to collaborate in monitoring the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 and to publish guidelines for livestock professionals.
153. Joint Concept Notes on One Health were developed for the G7 and G20.
154. FAO Reference Center for Zoonotic Coronaviruses continue providing evidence based, science-driven support to Members.
155. Within the Preventing Next Pandemic Programme, 7 action sheets were finalized for all 5 regions and published online.
156. The FAO AMR Action Plan 2021-2025 was updated according to the comments and recommendations received and the AMR indicator was revised to reflect FAO’s progress with the measurement based on the results of the Tripartite Country Self-Assessment Questionnaire.
157. The One Health Global Leaders Group on AMR, established in November 2020 held its inaugural meeting in January 2021.
158. The Terms of Reference for an Independent Panel on Evidence for Action Against AMR have been submitted to the UN Secretary-General for further advice and endorsement.
159. The Terms of Reference for the Partnership Platform for Action Against AMR are being finalized.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
160. FAO continues strengthening its partnerships within the UN System.
161. We are active in 119 UN Joint Programmes and in 114 UN joint Business Operations Strategies.
162. We launched a new Country Profile tool to provide access to key data and indicators at national level, to facilitate FAO’s contribution to the Common Country Analysis.
163. We are joining the High-Level Task Force the UN Secretary-General called for, in light of the increasing levels of acute food insecurity together with OCHA and WFP.
164. Together with UNDP, we rolled out a multidimensional poverty index in more than 30 countries; and we are supporting over 20 countries to enhance their national determined contributions.
165. We are working to align our respective COVID Response and Recovery Programmes and, together with other UN agencies, we have developed a Green Recovery Framework.
166. With the International Atomic Energy Agency, we elevated our joint division to a Joint Centre for Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture.
167. Together with UNIDO, we have facilitated national stakeholder consultations in Africa addressing the pandemic’s impacts on young people.
168. Among the Rome-based Agencies, we continue coordinating country and regional-level programming as well as exploring administrative and business efficiencies.
169. FAO continues to provide full support to the preparatory process for the UN Food Systems Summit.
170. As the UN Anchor Organization for Action Track 1 on “Ensuring access to safe and nutritious food”, we ensure that the working groups benefit from existing knowledge and experience of the UN.
171. FAO focal points for each of the other Action Tracks offer expertise and contribute, as emerging solutions are operationalized.
172. The FAO Chief Scientist and Chief Economist are part of the Scientific Committee.
173. The UN Food Systems Summit 2021 Science Days will be facilitated and co-hosted by FAO on 8 and 9 July.
174. FAO’s Chief Economist is leading a consortium of modelling platforms to assist in the assessment of proposed actions and interventions.
175. Members that are convening national level dialogues are increasingly requesting FAO’s technical support.
176. FAO, with funding from the EU, is undertaking rapid food systems assessments in 60 countries, which will inform the development and implementation of the national food systems road maps.
177. We continue building an open FAO with strong partnerships.
178. A new MoU with the International Renewable Energy Agency promotes sustainable bioenergy and the use of renewable energy in agri-food systems.
179. Our MoU with the European Space Agency paves the way for increased exchange of relevant expertise and developing applications in which Earth observation images can be used to better monitor agri-food systems.
180. We coordinate a Global-Hub on Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems to provide evidence on its resilience and sustainability for the UN Food Systems Summit.
181. And our active outreach continues with a wide range of stakeholders:
182. At the World Economic Forum's Davos event in January, held virtually this year, I called for joint responses and global action to transform the world's agri-food systems.
183. In my Keynote Lecture at the Winter Conference of the Eco-Social Forum of Austria in January, I highlighted the role that the Hand-in-Hand Initiative can play to share experiences of agricultural and rural development, among land-locked countries.
184. Addressing the Agriculture Ministers' Conference in Berlin in January, I underscored the importance of continued global cooperation, in the wake of COVID-19.
185. My intervention at the One Planet Summit for Biodiversity in January reiterated FAO's commitment to continue supporting the mainstreaming of biodiversity across agriculture and food sectors also by the Hand in Hand Initiative.
186. In a meeting in February with the Heads of State and Government of Fiji, Guyana, Palau, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, and Suriname, I presented FAO’s efforts to support the Small Island Developing States in facing the pandemic.
187. The Lectio Magistralis that I delivered at the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei in Rome in February, on "Transformation of Agri-food Systems: from Strategy to Action” was broadcast live on Italian National TV.
188. My Keynote Address at the opening of the Annual Forum for the Future of Agriculture (FFA) Conference in March included a message of support for the primacy of science in guiding responses to global challenges.
189. Speaking at the 1st Baghdad International Water Conference in March, I called for a paradigm shift in valuing water and stressed the need for effective water governance.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
190. Since the last Council in December 2020, FAO mobilization of voluntary contributions has followed a relatively positive trend, although of course, first-quarter data is a limited sample to predict annual volumes.
191. As of the end of March 2021, FAO had mobilized USD 229 million, which is substantially above the five year average.
192. Over one third of these funds was received from the European Union in relation to projects dating back to 2020.
193. The second largest resource provider during the quarter was Canada, thanks to a generous USD 19 million contribution to FAO’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Programme, with other large contributions coming from Japan and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
194. During the first quarter of 2021 there was a slight decline in emergency and resilience funding (-15%) compared with the same period in the previous year.
195. During 2021, FAO continues to anticipate a modest decline in funding from traditional bilateral partners, due to the constraints imposed by COVID-19 response on national budgets.
196. This should to some degree be offset by continued strong performance with vertical funds.
197. Under the Green Climate Fund (GCF), FAO is already implementing 7 projects, with a value of USD 244 million, and expects at least an additional USD 120 million to be operational in 2021, and possibly up to USD 195 million.
198. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) should also return to levels above USD 100 million in 2021, with a large volume of projects postponed due to COVID becoming operational in 2022.
199. Contributions from the World Bank are also expected to continue at a high level in 2021.
200. Emergency and resilience funding is expected to remain at high levels, with large programmes becoming operational in Yemen, Somalia and South Sudan.

Distinguished Delegates,
201. As called for in the Basic Texts, all of FAO’s work is guided by a Strategic Framework, which the Director-General presents to Conference.
202. An unprecedented and impressive process to develop the Strategic Framework has taken place since January 2020.
203. The process consisted of extensive, inclusive and transparent consultations with Members, both formal and informal,
204. and an intensive internal process drawing on the breadth and depth of FAO’s knowledge and expertise.
205. A top-down and bottom-up approach ensured that FAO's global mandates and normative strengths are well embedded.
206. Special attention was given to incorporating the needs coming from Members to allow FAO to provide maximum support in achieving the SDGs at country level.
207. And so, we are proudly presenting the Strategic Framework 2022-31, the Medium-Term Plan 2022-25 and the Programme of Work and Budget 2022-23.
208. All three documents build on and complement the organizational structure and management changes already put in place to make FAO a more modular, flexible and responsive organization.
209. The Strategic Framework seeks to support the 2030 Agenda through the transformation to MORE efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agri-food systems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life, leaving no one behind.
210. The four betters represent an organizing principle for how FAO intends to contribute directly to the 2030 Agenda, with the guiding lens of SDG 1 (No poverty), SDG 2 (Zero hunger), and SDG 10 (Reduced inequalities) as well as supporting the achievement of the broader SDG agenda.
211. The betters reflect the interconnected economic, social and environmental dimensions of agri-food systems. As such, they also encourage a strategic and systems-oriented approach within all of FAO’s interventions.
212. To accelerate progress, we will be applying the four cross-cutting/cross-sectional “accelerators” in all our programmatic interventions to maximize efforts and to facilitate the management of trade-offs, according to national priorities.
213. These accelerators are technology, innovation, data and complements (governance, human capital, and institutions).
214. The 20 Programme Priority Areas identified are inter-disciplinary, issue-based technical themes and represent FAO’s strategic contribution to specific SDG targets, as further described in the Medium-Term Plan and are framed around the four betters of our new strategic narrative.
215. They embed and communicate themes where FAO has a comparative advantage, track record and ability to act.
216. Strengthening partnerships is a key aspect of the new Strategic Framework.
217. Innovative funding and financing are also crucial to bridge the substantial gap for SDG achievement.
218. The Programme of Work and Budget 2022-23 translates the strategic narrative presented in the Strategic Framework and MTP into the biennial program of work.
219. It has been developed around these core principles:
• it maintains a flat nominal budget (USD 1 005.6 million);
• it covers all increased costs without negatively impacting the technical work; and
• it maintains the organizational structure currently in place.
220. Within the flat nominal budget, resources are reallocated to high priority areas including the new Programme Priority Areas, the Office of the Inspector-General, and multilingualism.
221. The new modular and flexible headquarters organizational structure is one of the main initiatives that I have introduced and remains in place as a key component for implementing the Strategic Framework.
222. We are now looking towards an efficient and modern decentralized network and are reviewing regional structures and transforming the business model for country offices.
223. This is done to mirror the changes introduced at headquarters and to increase quality, opportunity, and effectiveness of regional work and support to FAO Representations.
224. We will foster collaboration and break down silos between regional, sub-regional and national teams.
225. Strong cross-continental cooperation and experience sharing by the FAORs will result in increased benefit for our Members.
226. To ensure a more efficient and modern FAO over the next ten years, several additional areas will also receive careful attention.
227. Specific strategies have been developed for these areas, which include business management, human resources, digital FAO, governance, communications, multilingualism, as well as safety, security and health services.
228. The total budget proposal presented in the PWB 2022-23 is USD 3.26 billion of which USD 2.25 billion (69%) relies on extra-budgetary resources.
229. We urge Members to support the Strategic Framework and the implementation of the programme of work by continuing to provide strong extra-budgetary support.
230. We want to ensure that how we work in the coming years represents a change for the better – for the four betters – to scale up our programmes on the ground, and harness the power of science, innovation and digital technology to leave no one behind.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
231. I am confident that the developments and results that I shared with you today made two things very clear:
• That this new, agile, efficient and effective FAO is here to serve you better; and
• That it bridges the differences on how to address the challenges, how to erase hunger and defeat poverty. We need efficiency and effectiveness by rule-based governance, professional approach and cooperative spirit.
232. Our commitment to deliver was neither stifled nor impeded by the challenging times we are all facing.
233. Our motivation is fueled by the fact that we bring hope to all those counting on FAO around the world.
234. Hope to continue producing food, herding livestock, or raising fish;
235. Hope shared through science, knowledge and expertise;
236. Hope for the most essential human dignity of not suffering from hunger.
237. In full dedication to our mandate and our shared noble goals!
238. Thank you very much!