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

Launch of FAO’s Framework for Environmental and Social Management (FESM)



Dr QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General

30 January 2023


Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Happy New Year – both the western and the eastern luner calendar new year. The Chinese lunar new year builds on harmony between nature and humans, and we need to work together to achieve this harmony.

As we look at the current state of our planet, the impacts of the climate crisis, biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation are putting at risk the achievement of our collective goals and international commitments. To overcome these overlapping challenges, we need to work together and act agilely - we need to walk the talk as ONE FAO.

This is why the FAO Strategic Framework is focused on delivering the Four Betters: Better Production, Better Nutrition, a Better Environment, and a Better Life for all, leaving no one behind. And this is why, in 2021, I launched the new FAO Corporate Environmental Responsibility Strategy, which put us on an ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction plan across all our work.

FAO is the first UN agency running totally paperless, especially compared to 3 years ago. Remember that one A4 sheet of paper equals one small tree! It is therefore clear that we have to walk the talk!  The FAO Strategy on Mainstreaming Biodiversity across Agricultural Sectors, and our two new thematic Strategies on Climate Change, and on Science and Innovation, reinforce this crucial corporate commitment to sustainability.

Today, to further strengthen this solid foundation, I am pleased to launch our new Framework for Environmental and Social Management. We need science, we need management and we need long-term commitment to tackle climate change.

This Framework ensures that our projects do both “no harm” and support the transformation to more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable agrifood systems by upholding the highest international standards for risk management.

The Framework proactively promotes “doing good” in four key areas:

  • First: it is a powerful tool for mainstreaming sustainability and resilience across FAO by bringing together people-centered approaches with the core UN principle of leaving no one behind in a single, operational framework;
  • Second: it is a mechanism to improve the efficiency of our operations on the ground by setting out clear guidelines and standards for all projects;
  • Third: it enhances our efficient response to Members’ priorities and needs; and
  • Fourth: it ensures our transparency and integrity as an institution, by establishing clear protocols for how possible grievances may be raised and addressed.

Achieving the visionary framework for Environmental and Social Management will take an all-FAO effort. From inception to implementation, effective collaboration will be key to its success. My colleague DDG-Semedo and her work stream will provide the necessary guidance and support across the Organization for its effective implementation.

The Office of the Inspector General will continue to handle any complaints related to FAO’s non-compliance with the Framework. And I am happy that the FAO Inspector General, Mika Tapio, is participating in the front line of this meeting, together with the Permanent Representative of Kuwait and of the EU, as well as colleagues from other international organizations. We have a lot to learn from each other, individually and as a whole.

And our Regional, Subregional and Country Offices will be on the frontline of implementation, and I am pleased that Mario Lubetkin, FAO Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, has joined us today for this meeting.

Each of us has our respective role to play, and we need to all work together in an efficient, effective and coherent manner to ensure Excellence!

As a Chinese proverb says: a thousand miles always starts with the first step. Let’s take this first step together to achieve our collective goal!

Thank you.