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

Joint Meeting of the 134th Session of the Programme Committee and the

194th Session of the Finance Committee 

Closing Remarks 

Dr QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General 

11 November 2022


Madam Chairs,


Dear Colleagues, 


Good afternoon.

1.         I just came back from the airport as I was on official visit to two countries in the past three days.

2.         Some of our Core Leaders are also on duty travel: DDG Semedo is in Egypt for COP27, where she will be joined by the Chief Scientist, and the Chief Economist is currently in Paris.

3.         Now, we can truly feel that the entire world is recovering and moving fast.

4.         Here at FAO we have just finished the sessions of these two committees, and we will have the upcoming Council – we really need to be efficient and effective.

5.         We have to double our efforts. We have strong political commitments and pressures from world leaders who expect FAO to do more and better.

6.         Congratulations on a successful week with the conclusion of the Programme and Finance Committee sessions, and now the Joint Meeting.

7.         I really wish to congratulate the Chairwomen for their extraordinary leadership and coordination in guiding the work of the Committees with efficiency and effectiveness. As well as the members of the two Committees.

8.         During my travel, I kept updated on the work you were carrying out, and followed your discussions.

9.         You are technical Committees, as is the Council, and we are a Specialized Agency of the UN, so it is important to always keep a technical approach to our work.

10.       This is also what I conveyed to the Heads of State and Government I met with over the past week, including His Majesty King Abdullah II, the Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture of Saudi Arabia, the Special Advisor to the King and Crown Princess, and also the Supervisor General of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center of Saudi Arabia.

11.       And they informed me they have funds and need FAO’s support in assisting them to produce food locally in conflict areas and secure the regional food security.

12.       I reiterated FAO’s commitment to support them in the development of these areas.

Dear Colleagues,

13.       I really appreciate all the work done by the Members of the Committees, for being constructive, coherent and for the important recommendations for the coming Council.

14.       The guidance arising from these sessions provides invaluable insights as we go forward with our programme of work during these trying times marked by overlapping and complex challenges.

15.       The support you have provided for FAO’s Technical Cooperation Programme will further strengthen FAO’s capacity to assist those who need it the most by allocating cooperation resources in line with updated criteria.

16.       TCP is a historical legacy, not only for developing nations, but also for donor countries who use TCP as leverage and an entry point to scale up and speed up cooperation with countries.

17.       As I said during my Opening Remarks at the start of the session, and as I have said from day one, I want to build ONE FAO.

18.       And I started with ONE FAO Staff first.

19.       Staff from different backgrounds, with different ways of thinking, but with respect for each other being the key, and understanding of each other.

20.       Then, from understanding comes learning from each other.

21.       ONE FAO Staff, ONE FAO Organization with 194 Members.

22.       As Members of the Programme Committee and Finance Committees, you should also work as ONE FAO.

23.       Over the past three years there has been a lot of change – change that took place with harmonization. I congratulate you for this.

24.       At the same time, your support for our upcoming biennial theme on water further consolidates FAO’s water resources management to make tangible impacts on the ground, and to provide targeted technical support in line with FAO's mandate.

25.       The ICC, Hans Hoogeveen, comes from a country with too much water – the Netherlands – like myself, I come from the Hunan Province in China, with 1 600 millimetres of water per year. Flooding control is another side of the coin.

26.       But, I have just come back from Saudi Arabia where water scarcity is an extreme priority. The Ministers responsible for agriculture is in fact called the Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture.

27.       In Saudi Arabia, water is not only necessary for agriculture, but also for urbanization, industry and the environment.

28.       In Amman, I shared with His Majesty King Abdullah, “If you give me water, I will make a miracle for you.”

29.       Even in Europe, in countries like Germany and Italy, there are now problems with water scarcity.

30.       For this reason, the theme of water for the FAO Conference next year is timely: we need effective water resources management for the 4 Betters - better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life.

31.       It reminds us that sometimes a crisis is a good education and lesson for all of us, like the pandemic has been.

32.       For the first time in Europe there was no objection to the use of the mRNA vaccine. As I worked on biotechnology for 30 years I was pleased to see this historical development. We have to use the momentum and the lessons learned to build up consensus and actions.

33.       As I have often said, we need to think together, work together and contribute together.

34.       First, we have to think together, not in the same way, but together on the same challenges and same issues, to create different solutions. Then we can learn from each other, to complement each other and work together.

35.       That is what I said, I still remember, in the first speech I made on 1 August 2019. 

36.       We need to build up our curriculum: from the Strategic Framework, to the two new FAO thematic strategies, to COP27 and next year COP28. We need to keep evolving, to do more and better.

37.       Regarding RBA collaboration, I was happy to meet with colleagues on the ground – to put a face to the name – and to meet with the Residential Coordinators (RC), to whom I said I expect they increase coordination with the other agencies to support FAO’s work.

38.       They are doing good work and I was pleased to see the close collaboration between FAO and the sister agencies, especially in Jordan. There is increased coherency at country level.

39.       Our complementarities make us stronger and well positioned to address common challenges. A good example is the Food Security Strategy in Jordan.

Dear Colleagues,

40.       As I stated in my opening statement on Monday, the Organization continues to have a zero tolerance for sexual exploitation, discrimination and all types of harassment and abuse, including at the regional, subregional and country level.

41.       We will continue to enhance efforts to ensure FAO is a transparent, accountable, dynamic, engaged and ethical workplace.

42.       I also wish to recognize the recommendations arising from your discussions on key issues such as food safety, statistics, auditing and management.

43.       Especially internally, together with my Core Leaders we will be looking at how to address the issues in a more systematic way. As I have said before, I want to build a modern FAO with modern management.

44.       Let us continue to work better, together, in an efficient, effective and coherent manner in our common journey towards the transformation to more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable agrifood systems,

45.       To achieve our collective goal of the 4 Betters.

46.       The 4 Betters start even within your families, and your communities. What does “better production” mean in your family? Zero food waste is contributing to better production and a better environment.

47.       And “better nutrition” does not only mean balanced and healthy diets, but also diets that contribute to a “better environment” and “better quality life” for your family, for your community and your country.

48.       I wish you a nice and restful weekend – to refresh and to think more and deeper as we continue to learn together, to work together and contribute together.

49.       I thank you.