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

171st Session of the FAO Council

Statement

By

Dr QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General

5 December 2022

 

Independent Chairperson of the Council

Members of the Council,

Excellences,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

1.         I am pleased to be addressing this 171st Session of the FAO Council, 40 months after taking office as FAO Director-General.

 

2.         It has been an extraordinary journey, together!

 

3.         We have faced many unexpected new challenges, marked by a wave of unprecedented, complex and overlapping crises, each one affecting all of us.

 

4.         We have accomplished a lot, together!

 

5.         We must continue to work together to fulfil FAO’s mandate, guided by the FAO Strategic Framework, in support of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs,

 

6.         For the transformation of global agrifood systems and to achieve the Four Betters.

 

7.         I am determined to continue upon this path through EXTRAORDINARY efforts, with your concrete support and contributions.

 

8.         In January, I declared that 2022 would be the year of EXTRAORDINARY EFFORTS, to achieve EXTRAORDINARY RESULTS.

 

9.         Now, at the end of these EXTRAORDINARY 12 months, we can confirm that indeed this year has been EXTRAORDINARY – with EXTRAORDINARY circumstances that provided an opportunity to achieve EXTRAORDINARY results, due to EXTRAORDINARY efforts.

 

10.       When I addressed Council in June, I provided an overview of the EXTRAORDINARY achievements of the first half of 2022.

 

11.       Today, as I look back during the past 40 months as FAO Director-General, I will highlight in particular some of the EXTRAORDINARY achievements.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

12.       Today, I am proud to say “Welcome to the new FAO!”

 

13.       A new, renovated, restructured and dynamic FAO for a better world – a new ONE FAO.

 

14.       That brings together all the professional and scientific expertise of the Organization from around the globe, responding efficiently and effectively to the challenges we are facing.

 

15.       In March 2020, the world was shaken by an unprecedented shock – the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

16.       The FAO Crisis Management Team (CMT), which I had established for pest control, reacted immediately, proving to be an agile and efficient mechanism for quick collective decision-making, and demonstrating the Organization’s extraordinary crises response capacity.

 

17.       The CMT ably guided the Organization during times of uncertainty, protecting the safety and health of all employees worldwide, while enabling us to continue working and delivering on FAO´s mandate.

 

18.       As Designated Official for the UN in Italy, I managed to exercise my responsibilities effectively and efficiently with the host government day and night, as well as with all FAO host governments globally.

 

19.       At the global level, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, FAO demonstrated its capacity and professionalism to cope with the extraordinary emergency and to provide leading analytical information when it was needed most, based on science and evidence-based data.

 

20.       From the start, FAO strongly emphasized that “there is no health without food”, which was critical to re-focus food production.

 

21.       The pandemic reaffirmed the centrality of food, and the urgent need to address the fragilities of our agrifood systems.

 

22.       In emergencies, FAO saves lives, safeguards livelihoods and lays the foundations for resilience, implementing emergency interventions in over 70 countries.

 

23.       Over the past 40 months, FAO has also demonstrated its emergency response capacity by stepping up efforts to contain the spread of plant pests, which annually cause between 20 to 40% of global crop production losses.

 

24.       For example, FAO played a significant role during the 2019-2022 Desert Locust crisis across the Horn of Africa and beyond.

 

25.       Thanks to large-scale control operations supported by donors we were able to mitigate devastating consequences in already vulnerable regions.

 

26.       The Global Action for Fall Armyworm Control has been an effective coordination mechanism that links technical and financial resources to farmers’ fields.

 

27.       Since 2019, crop losses have declined by 5 to 10% percent, and the risk of further spread and infestation has also decreased.

 

28.       FAO continues to be at the forefront of global efforts to address the emerging world food security challenges, leveraging its leadership role and strengths as the UN specialized agency in food and agriculture.

 

29.       FAO has produced a series of briefs and information notes, including assessments of the impacts of the pandemic, conflicts, and the war in Ukraine on global agricultural markets and food security. All these briefs are permanently being updated.

 

30.       FAO has scaled up efforts and is on track to exceed the 30 million people reached in 2021 with urgently needed, life-saving and cost-effective assistance,

 

31.       In a world where around 45 million people in 37 countries are projected to have so little to eat that they will be severely malnourished, at risk of death or already facing starvation and death (IPC Phase 4 or above).

 

32.       FAO has also stepped up its emergency and resilience programme in countries with high levels of acute food insecurity, targeting at least 60 million people per year by 2023.

 

33.       FAO has also advocated strongly for placing agricultural investment at the core of the humanitarian response to the global food crisis,

 

34.       At the country level, FAO has also prioritize the food access problem faced by the most vulnerable countries because of the increase in food prices and currency devaluation,

 

35.       And has developed a range of concrete policy proposals, including for the establishment of a Food Import Financing Facility to help countries with balance-of-payment problems,

 

36.       Which has been adopted two months ago by the IMF through a Food Shock Window under its emergency financing instrument.

 

37.       These are EXTRAORDINARY achievements!

 

38.       We have also elaborated a methodology identify the gaps in fertilizer inputs and to prioritize the allocation of international fertilizer supplies to countries in Africa and promoted the use of soil nutrient maps to improve fertilizer use efficiency, reduce production costs and boost productivity.

 

39.       FAO has made extraordinary progress in mobilizing voluntary contributions.

 

40.       In 2021, we mobilized USD 1.42 billion - the highest in the history of FAO - that is, USD 139 million more than in 2020, and 22% above the 5-year average.

 

41.       2022 is projected to exceed these numbers, and we have already mobilized USD 1.6 billion. 

 

42.       This sharp increase in funding, is partly in support of major emergency operations, including in Afghanistan, Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Ukraine,

 

43.       And is an important sign of the critical need for the contribution of FAO in emergency contexts.

 

44.       It also reflects the confidence and trust of resource partners in FAO’s ability to deliver high quality, large-scale, development programmes requiring specialized technical expertise.

 

45.       In Ukraine, FAO has a unique role to play in supporting storage to keep grain secure and ensure food security across the country and beyond.

 

46.       To safeguard existing and upcoming harvests and food reserves, FAO has provided massive capacity to store up to 6 million tonnes of grain - about 30% of the national storage capacity gap.

 

47.       In addition, over 80 000 rural people have received emergency agricultural support such as seed potatoes and vegetable seeds, and cash assistance.  

 

48.       In Afghanistan – one of the countries most reliant on agriculture - FAO is on the ground, meeting critical needs.

 

49.       By the end of 2022, 9 million people (50% of the rural population in IPC Phase 3+) are expected to receive livelihoods assistance from FAO.

 

50.       Likewise, FAO has been quick to provide humanitarian aid to one of the most severe droughts in decades in the Horn of Africa.

 

51.       In addition to anticipatory action, FAO has scaled up its response as the situation has deteriorated, reaching almost 4 million rural people across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia in 2022,

 

52.       And ensuring that over 4 million children have access to milk every day.

 

53.       Furthermore, FAO’s cash assistance has ensured that over 1.5 million people have been able to access food every day for at least 3 months, while crop production support has met the annual cereal needs of almost 400 000 people.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

54.       Following the reform I initiated for the transformation of the FAO Investment Center in January 2022, the Centre has developed an ambitious programme providing a full suite of integrated investment and finance solutions and innovations - the “4+2 solutions”,

 

55.       Covering strategic investment planning and policy, public, private, and innovative finance, as well as increasing capacities and knowledge on Investment.

 

56.       Progress highlights include investment planning and policy support to 54 countries, through the Hand-in-Hand Initiative, and 50 agrifood systems assessments.

 

57.       Between January and October 2022, the Centre provided assistance to IFI-financed projects worth USD 7.6 billion - a significant increase compared to USD 7.2 billion in 2021, and a major advance on the 2023 target of USD 7.8 billion.

 

58.       This reflects new investments for 24 Members at country level plus 5 regional projects in Africa.

 

59.       Partnerships with international finance investors and national development banks have been scaled-up and diversified,

 

60.       As well as increased engagement with Development Finance Institutions and Impact Funds, including advice on opportunities and challenges for blended finance.

 

61.       For example, the TERRA project with the Italian Development Finance Institution - CDP - could reach around 260 million EURO in potential investment with agri-SMEs in support of agrifood system finance.

 

62.       Blended finance efforts also included support to the EU through the AgrIntel project in support of agrifood blended finance funds worth approximately 913 million EURO,

 

63.       Of which 174 million EURO, mostly in Africa, already signed and moved to contracting stage, allowing FAO to deepen and broaden its work in blended finance in the coming years.

 

64.       These are EXTRAORDINARY achievements!

 

65.       As I had undertaken to do in 2019, over the past 3 years I have launched a series of important coherent initiatives.

 

66.       The Hand-in-Hand Initiative was the first strategic initiative launched. Today, the initiative has 54 participating countries, and 2 more in the process of being included, out of a total initial target of 64 countries. 

 

67.       It is a mechanism for bringing diverse actors together to help the least advantaged Members reduce poverty, end hunger and malnutrition, and reduce inequalities within and among countries.

 

68.       The recent Hand in Hand Investment Forum held in the context of the World Food Forum in October, provided, for the first time, a platform for Members to present their investment opportunities to partners and stakeholders, for a total value of USD 3 billion, affecting 6 million direct beneficiaries and 9 million indirect beneficiaries.

 

69.       A second initiative is the International Platform for Digital Food and Agriculture, an inclusive multi-stakeholder forum to promote dialogue on the digitalization of food and agriculture.

 

70.       The 1000 Digital Villages Initiative is a country-led, user-centred initiative that promotes digital transformation of villages and small towns across the world,

 

71.       Enabling farmers to use digital technologies to improve livelihoods, individual wellbeing, and social cohesion in rural areas by bringing digital innovation closer to the needs of small-scale farmers.

 

72.       In September 2020, I launched the Green Cities Initiative to support municipalities in creating more sustainable and food secure cities that are resilient to shocks and stresses such as climate change, urbanization and public health issues.

 

73.       The initiative has now reached 80 cities globally, and we are working with Members and partners to meet the target of 1000 cites by 2030.

 

74.       The One Country One Priority Product Initiative has now been launched in all 5 FAO Regions.

 

75.       The initiative is in alignment with FAO’s Programme Priority Area on “Innovation for sustainable agriculture production” contributing to Better Production.

 

76.       We have received applications from over 80 countries from across all regions to promote 50 Special Agriculture Products as a first step – next steps will also include animal products.

 

77.       The need to fill data gaps to accelerate our corporate delivery is critical and for this reason I have institutionalized the 50x2030 Initiative,

 

78.       Which supports 50 low- and lower-middle income countries to build strong national data systems by 2030 through the production and use of high-quality and timely agricultural data.

 

79.       Reducing food loss and waste has been one of my priorities since taking office, as it presents a triple-win opportunity with immediate climate benefits and increased availability of nutritious food, while improving the overall sustainability of agrifood systems.

 

80.       As the responsible UN agency for the SDG indicator Food Loss Index, FAO continues its efforts to build capacity to measure and reduce food loss in countries and across all regions.

 

81.       I have also re-launched the technical platform on measuring and reduction of food loss and waste; we have joined a Zero Food Loss and Waste Campaign with Türkiye; as well as the Hashtag 123 Food Loss and Waste Pledge for Climate Action; and are co-leading the Food is Never Waste Coalition.

 

82.       Finally, as part of the World Food Forum, we partnered with the Social Gastronomy Network and in a 6 week campaign 20 million kilograms of food was saved from waste, with which meals were provided across 27 countries in over 1200 cities.

 

83.       These are extraordinary partnerships with extraordinary results!

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

84.       Women and Youth are at the forefront of my vision of the new FAO.

 

85.       Upon taking office in 2019, I established the FAO Women’s Committee, and FAO Youth Committee to prioritize women and youth.

 

86.       The FAO Youth Committee and FAO Women’s Committee are two EXTRAORDINARY ACHIEVEMENTS, backed by our extraordinary youthful employees and women colleagues.

 

87.       The objective of the FAO Youth Committee is to increase youth engagement and foster their innovative spark, by actively networking among young and young-at-heart FAO staff,

 

88.       And to play a key role in the transformation of our agrifood systems, by identifying actionable and out-of-the-box solutions to current and future challenges.

 

89.       Since its inception, the FAO Youth Committee has reached out to major youth groups from around the world with the creation of the World Food Forum, which in less than three short years has grown from a “My Idea” to a global shared platform.

 

90.       It is an independent, youth-led global network of partners facilitated and hosted by FAO that empowers young people everywhere to help achieve the SDGs, and a better food future for all.

 

91.       The 2022 hybrid World Food Forum brought together more than 2000 participants in person and over 40 000 visits across platforms and 15 000 registrations, representing 183 countries.

 

92.       With a Digital Reach of over 76 000 unique visitors and almost 15 000 social followers.

 

93.       All speaking with one dynamic voice in solidarity for “Healthy Diets. Healthy Planet”.

 

94.       This year the Forum comprised 3 segments: the Global Youth Forum, the FAO Science and Innovation Forum and the FAO Hand-in-Hand Investment Forum.

 

95.       The 3 interlinked fora advanced bold and actionable solutions to catalyze the transformation of agrifood systems, highlighting inter-generational collaboration in science, technology and innovation in food and agriculture.

 

96.       The next World Food Forum will be held from 16 to 20 October 2023, starting with World Food Day 2023 - making sure food remains central to the discussions!

 

97.       The FAO Women’s Committee launched in 2019 has proven to be a successful platform to build a meaningful space to share, discuss and showcase ideas and actions that can empower women - and the Organization.

 

98.       The Committee’s wide range of activities – from the Joint Mentorship Programme, information campaigns and partnerships – is working to advance gender equality in FAO and to contribute to a gender-equal world.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

99.       To implement my vision of a new FAO, we needed to start by changing the business model based on innovative working methods.

 

100.     We have made extraordinary advances in modernizing and digitalizing the way we manage the resources allocated to FAO, and support effective and efficient delivery through projects. 

 

101.     The wave of unprecedented challenges did not catch FAO unprepared.

 

102.     On the contrary, the Organization has demonstrated a readiness to adapt rapidly, and respond to changes agilely.

 

103.     The Technical Cooperation Programme strategic review exercise concluded this year has set TCP on a new course and has increased transparency, with updated criteria and methods for TCP allocation to regions and within regions.

 

104.     To support TCP, we have streamlined, modernized and simplified the project cycle and our support model to be fit for purpose for different types of projects.

 

105.     FAO’s toolbox is now much better equipped and ready for new ways of project delivery, using modern technology like mobile phones, and is better equipped to support investments that directly benefit smallholders.

 

106.     The Organization needs a modern and efficient Decentralized Offices network as a key element to ensure optimal support to Members.

 

107.     In February this year, I approved the reorganization of capacities within the structures of the Regional Offices following the new headquarters’ model – to work better together as ONE FAO.

 

108.     Since taking office, I established the first ever FAO Chief Scientist position, along with the Office of Innovation, to ensure that the Organization has a strong science-based voice, and to lead engagement with Members on innovation.

 

109.     The Office of Innovation consolidates and further strengthens FAO's innovative spirit, mindset, cooperation models, and digitalization.

 

110.     The new FAO Science and Innovation Strategy will enable us to step up our efforts to address the urgent, complex and interlinked challenges facing our agrifood systems, by driving a new business model at FAO.

 

111.     The FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31 includes accelerators on innovation and technology, and each of the 20 Programme Priority Areas are underpinned by science.

 

112.     Science and innovation are critical to finding solutions to the climate challenges we are facing today; this is why we are implementing our two new thematic strategies on Science and Innovation, and on Climate Change, in synergy.

 

113.     The Agrifood Systems Technologies and Innovations Outlook (ATIO) is a new knowledge product to inform evidence-based policy dialogue and decisions.

 

114.     As a scientist, I have always been in the business of change – that is the essence of science: adaptation to change.

 

115.     Science advances, generating new information and knowledge, and is applied to solve problems – and to improve agrifood systems, and life.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

116.     The new Digital FAO ensured that we remained ahead of the curve over the past 40 months, ensuring work continuity, efficiency, transparency and unhampered growth.

 

117.     We are the first UN agency to operate in a fully digital manner and was the pioneer in holding the first fully virtual FAO-AU meeting in April 2020, together with the African Union Commission, with virtual interpretation in all 6 official languages.

 

118.     This was an EXTRAORDINARY achievement!

 

119.     Today, we can see that the strengthening of a Digital FAO is a key accelerator for transformation within the FAO system and beyond.

 

120.     A main pillar of FAO’s transformative process is the Digital Workplace - FAO’s digital productivity engine that provides the optimal environment for FAO to best deliver on its work.

 

121.     It comprises a set of digital solutions that provide the necessary tools for all FAO employees to perform their work regardless of location or time, fully enabling remote and digital work, contributing to the transformation of the Organization.

 

122.     At the global level, FAO has vast experience in the development and use of geospatial data, methods and tools, which are applied to sustainable development planning and implementation at all levels.

 

123.     FAO's open access and award-winning Geospatial Platform, for example, provides food security indicators and agricultural statistics to support more targeted agriculture interventions.

 

124.     And serves as the key enabling tool for FAO's Hand-in-Hand Initiative.

 

125.     Since the launch of the platform in 2020, over 65 countries and institutions have participated in workshops to learn how leveraging data and technology can contribute to digital agriculture transformation and rural development.

 

126.     The State of Food and Agriculture 2022 (SOFA) report looks into the drivers of agricultural automation and its role in making food production more efficient and more environmentally friendly,

 

127.     And explores the potential use of block chain technology to feed more people, while safeguarding the environment.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

128.     We have pulled FAO back on track to be recognized as a center of excellency for technical specialized knowledge, expertise, information and data.

 

129.     A strong flow of technical knowledge products has re-positioned FAO globally, in line with its mandate, redesigning agrifood systems to be more socially, economically and environmentally sustainable,

 

130.     Making FAO a reliable and professional partner in the global transformation agenda.

 

131.     Extraordinary strides have been made in that direction over the past 40 months, reflecting the more responsible and policy-relevant work streams in the new FAO organizational structure.

 

132.     For example, in 2021 we developed a Blue Transformation Roadmap for the sustainable intensification and expansion of aquaculture, especially in food deficit regions, aiming to grow the subsector by 30-40% by the end of the decade.

 

133.     In 2021, FAO led the report on “Repurposing agricultural support to transform food systems”, a turning point that called for action to redirect investments in public goods and services for agriculture, such as research and development.

 

134.     The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) 2022 flagship report provides guidance on alternative combinations of policy support and how to better manage trade-offs for improved agrifood systems.

 

135.     FAO is preparing the global report on the Status of Rural Women in Agrifood Systems, which will expand the focus beyond agriculture to understand opportunities and constraints that women and men face in broader economic and social processes.

 

136.     During the pandemic, vital technical briefs prepared by FAO addressed topics ranging from protecting the land and rights of Indigenous Peoples in Asia, seasonal migration in Europe, and recommended crop calendars in Africa, among others.

 

137.     The FAOSTAT data portal has been greatly enhanced with new domains, such as for example, to identify where greenhouse gas emissions occur, and tracking cropland nutrient budgets to optimize fertilizer use.

 

138.     The FAO Food Price Index tracks monthly changes in world prices of 5 food commodity groups: cereals, vegetable oils, meat, dairy products and sugar,

 

139.     And is a global reference of the price situation in the world.

 

140.     All of these knowledge products are designed to produce and accelerate results on the ground, leading to extraordinary impact. 

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

141.     FAO’s international visibility and reputation has continued to increase, despite global challenges.

 

142.     Since the lifting of travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I have travelled to 30 countries; where I met with 27 Heads of State and Government; 118 Ministers; 40 Vice-Ministers and innumerable government officials.

 

143.     But more importantly, I met with farmers on the ground, with rural women and youth.

 

144.     In each country, I undertook field visits to see first-hand the work being done on the ground, and where FAO needs to boost interventions and support.

 

145.     These have been extraordinary moments in my 40 months as FAO Director-General – at the service of our farmers!

 

146.     This year alone, I have also engaged in 56 high-level events, including Security Council brief at the United Nations, and in Member State processes, in New York.

 

147.     FAO’s expertise, knowledge products, tools and policy recommendations have been in high demand in New York to inform the UN Secretariat and other specialized agencies.

 

148.     The UN Food Systems Summit follow-up Coordination Hub, hosted by FAO on behalf of the UN system, is operational and work has already started at the country level.

 

149.     FAO has been actively engaged in the G20 and G7 pluri-lateral processes, monitoring global agrifood market developments, assessing their impacts on food security, and providing policy advice throughout 2020-2022.

 

150.     And forward looking, FAO is already engaged with the 2023, and 2024, Presidencies of these key fora.

 

151.     We have been working hand in hand with our Members and partners to implement the Strategy on Mainstreaming Biodiversity across Agricultural Sectors.

 

152.     In response to the climate crisis, we have worked collectively through a transparent and inclusive process with our Members, experts, and partners worldwide to develop the new FAO Strategy on Climate Change,

 

153.     Which aims to build climate-resilient and low-emission agrifood systems, while striving to achieve the SDGs.

 

154.     Agrifood systems transformation is a crucial part of climate solutions – this is the message FAO brought to COP27, and we are already engaged in follow-up work leading to COP28.

155.     FAO is also participating at the technical level at the COP15 to the Convention on Biological Diversity, where we are advocating the central role of biodiversity for food security and nutrition.

 

156.     FAO has been actively, and successfully, supporting Members to access climate and environment finance flows in support of agrifood systems transformation through the Green Climate Fund and the Global Environmental Facility. 

 

157.     Since 2019, FAO has more than doubled these portfolios, enabling Members to mobilize more than USD 6 billion in more than 100 countries.

 

158.     These are extraordinary achievements!

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

159.     FAO continues to leverage partner strengths to transform agrifood systems, delivering results for the most vulnerable and small-scale rural farmers and producers.

 

160.     The sheer scope of current global challenges means that we can only succeed if we work together – through partnerships at different scales, across different sectors and at all levels.

 

161.     In the context of the UN Decade of Family Farming, together with IFAD and other partners, National Action Plans for family farming were approved in 11 countries, and 185 policies, laws and regulations were developed and endorsed.

 

162.     At global level, the Decade helped mobilize more than 2600 stakeholders to identify concrete initiatives and measures in support of family farming.

 

163.     FAO has directly supported more than 45 Parliamentary Alliances against Hunger and Malnutrition worldwide,

 

164.     As parliamentarians play a critical role in setting policies and regulations at the country level to support those most in need.

 

165.     Through partnerships such as the Global Hub of Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems, FAO continues to support these traditional food systems as critical game-changers for transformation.

 

166.     FAO’s traditional, established and long-standing partnerships add significant value to our work, however private sector partnerships have emerged as an important priority to meet current global challenges.

 

167.     Over the past 40 months, our private sector engagements have scaled-up multi-stakeholder efforts for country-owned and country-led innovative solutions.

 

168.     Our Private Sector Engagement Strategy is historic for FAO, setting in motion new ways of thinking and working that has brought about transformative change, innovation and measurable impacts.

 

169.     The private sector is diverse, and FAO has recently expanded its engagement to include important new actors from all across agrifood systems,

 

170.     With a particular emphasis on small and medium-sized enterprises, while improving the balance of partners across different sectors and regions.

 

171.     FAO continues to mainstream South-South and Triangular Cooperation throughout the Organization, to facilitate knowledge creation and sharing, catalyze investments, and for match-making, such as through the Hand-in Hand Initiative.

 

172.     Partnerships with scientists are crucial to FAO’s vision, and we continue to strengthen and increase partnerships with key academic and research institutions worldwide.

 

173.     We have signed strategic MoUs over the past 3 years with key scientific organizations and universities to further strengthen collaboration through innovative and sustainable approaches for improving lives, while safeguarding natural resources.

 

174.     FAO and the IAEA recently signed an updated MoU for the Joint Center to strengthen and broaden collaboration on practical arrangements for our joint work.

 

175.     In addition, opportunities from space breeding are being explored, through the recent joint mission that sent seeds to the International Space Station to develop crops able to adapt to climate change on Earth – this is extraordinary!

 

176.     RBA collaboration remains a key partnership, with increased country-level coordination, especially in humanitarian crisis contexts.

 

177.     FAO offices are also actively engaged in UN efficiency initiatives at the country level, with an estimated benefit over the 5 year period from 2019 to 2023 of USD 24.7 million in efficiency gains.

 

178.     Under FAO’s Chair, the One Health Quadripartite developed the One Health Joint Plan of Action, launched in October 2022, to better integrate and coordinate our work across the human, animal, plant, agricultural and environmental sectors.

 

179.     And recently, we launched the AMR Multistakeholder Partnership Platform, bringing together stakeholders to assist in combatting AMR.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

180.     Work to streamline and modernize the internal rules of the Organization has continued, enhancing the understanding of the rules-based nature of the Organization amongst employees, Members, and partners, and addressing gaps and ambiguities.

 

181.     Significant steps have been taken, to ensure FAO’s operations are both efficient and rules-based, with appropriate accountabilities.

 

182.     With my full support, the Office of Evaluation has independently conducted an average of 50 evaluations annually.

 

183.     Based on findings from the SDG evaluations, the Office of Evaluation recommended that FAO further align its strategy with the SDGs.

 

184.     We did this through the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31, which now fully supports the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and the SDG targets.

 

185.     The Core Leadership Team has been championing the Four Betters to promote cross-sectoral strategic coordination, and to create a common vision for the delivery of the Strategic Framework.

 

186.     This strategic coordination facilitates interlinkages between the 20 Programme Priority Areas and ensures coherency in our work from country to global level for improved outcomes and impact.

 

187.     Changing the business model of the Organization for more efficiency and impact relies heavily on the capacity and capability of our human resources.

 

188.     During the past 40 months, I have focused on implementing best practices that support programme and administrative effectiveness, and on creating people centered HR policies.

 

189.     Creating an inclusive and positive work environment and improving working conditions have been a top priority for me from Day 1!

 

190.     On gender parity, FAO has achieved a score of 94% for indicators met or exceeded on the UN Action Plan on Gender Equality, and FAO has recently been recognized for excellence in implementing good practices that advance gender parity in the UN System.

 

191.     At the beginning of my term of office, the Council urged FAO to continue concentrating in combating all forms of  harassment, sexual harassment, discrimination, sexual exploitation and abuse of authority.

 

192.     I, and the entire Core Leadership team, have been fully committed to this, and compliance mechanisms have been enhanced and corporately prioritized.

 

193.     Since 1 August 2019, a new Office of the Ombuds has been established at FAO.

 

194.     The Ombuds has since provided informal conflict resolution services to over 400 employees and is a key contributor to the new culture of greater integrity at FAO.

 

195.     The stand-alone Ethics Office was established on 1 March 2020, to enhance our understanding of our obligations as international civil servants, foster an ethical work environment and ensure the Organization is in step with best practices.

 

196.     The first FAO Code of Ethical Conduct was published in May 2021, and a revised Whistleblower Protection Policy was issued in June 2021.

 

197.     In line with my commitment to strengthen accountability, integrity and transparency in the Organization, I have allocated additional resources to the Office of the Inspector General to enhance the ability of the Office to deal with complaints of misconduct.

 

198.     The Employee Satisfaction Survey launched in 2019 served as a catalyst for change across the Organization, with over 90 staff listening sessions organized to discuss the survey results,

 

199.     And priority areas of concrete action were identified to respond to employee concerns, including: communication, professional development, and new ways of working.

 

200.     Infrastructure improvements at headquarters, and in the decentralized offices, have also helped foster a positive working environment.

 

201.     At headquarters, the Main Entrance has seen the addition of a ramp to facilitate access for people with limited mobility, and the installation of energy-saving state-of-the-art lighting has drastically reduced electricity consumption.

 

202.     More recently, FAO employees and visitors have been able to enjoy the renovated 8th floor cafeteria, with a variety of nutritional and international foods, and a strict zero food waste policy.

 

203.     The newly refurbished terrace showcases the photos of FAO Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) sites, in appreciation of our traditional agrifood systems.

 

204.     The restoration of this iconic Plenary Hall was recently completed and includes the modernization and digitization of the technical equipment.

 

205.     I am appreciative to the Italian Government for their longstanding and unwavering commitment and support, including fresh funding from the new Italian government to enhance the multilingual capacity of the Plenary Hall, and the Red and Green Rooms.

 

Dear Friends,

 

206.     Today, FAO is new, more efficient, dynamic, innovative and effective.

 

207.     We are speeding up delivery.

 

208.     The Organization is now globally recognized as a professional, trusted partner of all stakeholders working to eradicate poverty, hunger and malnutrition.

 

209.     Our future strategic direction is transparent and inclusive, and includes of all you, working together towards our global goals.

 

210.     FAO, and I, continue to be your partner on this extraordinary journey.

 

211.     Working hand in hand to transform our agrifood systems and achieve the Four Betters, committed to leaving no one behind.

 

212.     My 40 months in office thus far have been marked by strong human values, ethics, integrity, transparency, inclusivity, solidarity and professionalism,

 

213.     And above all by the EXTRAORDINARY EFFORTS with EXTRAORDINARY RESULTS of all FAO employees and Members during these very difficult times – and for this, I am deeply grateful to each one of you - from Members to partners, from staff to society!

 

214.     Let us continue to work together in this cooperative and constructive spirit for people, planet, and prosperity in partnership.

 

215.     Thank you.

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