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

G77 & China Handover Ceremony



Dr QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General

16 March 2023


Chairperson of the G77 & China,


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Brothers and Sisters,


I am pleased to be here today, together with my colleagues. It is the first time I see so many colleagues from IFAD and WFP, and the ICC – a true sign of solidarity.

The G77 & China is UN wide, but this is the Rome Chapter, and different Chapters have different characteristics. In the Rome Chapter, there should be more solidarity, it should be more focused on food, agriculture, food security, and also on the professional specialized agencies – that is our unique position.

As Yousef said, today recalls us to four years ago – it is another cycle. In the Chinese culture saying that “another cycle has come back”. Because last time we had a physical handover here was in 2019. Since then, we have had 4 Chairpersons of the G77&China, and today there is a handing over to the 5th one.

Let us work together! I am fully committed to continue working with all of you, and I know I can count on your continued support.

I know the incoming Chairperson well – the Ambassador from Senegal. He was the former Minister of Agriculture, and before that he was the Director-General of the Africa Rice Center, and I supported him as I was the Vice-President of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science at that time. I remember that 22 years ago we started a big project together with the Bill Gates Foundation that mainly supported rice research in Africa.

I also wish to thank the outgoing Chairperson, Mr Yousef Juhail of Kuwait. I also met him four years ago, and last year he became the Chairperson of the G77 & China.

During the past years, the Near East and North Africa region has yielded the most impactful period in the history of FAO, and with the most solidarity in the history, because of your coordination, leadership and member participation.

We had a successful Regional Conference, and other work agendas in the region are moving fast, efficiently and smoothly. I think this is largely due to your wisdom and experience, and of course to working closely with the Chairpersons of the Regional Conference.

Both the outgoing and incoming Chairpersons of the G77 & China are real assets to FAO, to their countries and their regions.

I really appreciate both of you and other previous chairs for the leadership, coordination and solidarity with FAO and its mandate.

I look forward to continuing to work with this Group under the leadership and vision of the incoming Chairperson.

I also wish to recognize the active and constructive participation of the G77 & China in the informal and formal sessions of FAO’s Governing Bodies, and other key meetings over the past year.

And I warmly welcome the incoming Vice-Chairperson of the Group from Pakistan. There is no need to introduce him. He is our legacy, our lifelong asset, for both FAO and the G77 & China – Mr Khaled Mehboob.

The dynamic contribution of this Group has effectively contributed towards the implementation of the Organization’s mandate – in support of agrifood systems transformation and the Four Betters.

This Group has a critical role to play in bringing the voice of the developing countries to the forefront of the Organization’s governance process, and to ensure a balanced perspective during discussions. But, above all, to ensure we work as ONE FAO.

Since I came, I have strengthened ONE FAO.

The G77 & China comprises 134 Members, out of 194 FAO Members in total. This means you are the majority of the FAO Members – you are ONE FAO. Therefore, we need to be more inclusive and cooperative with the other 60 FAO Members, as ONE FAO. It is beneficial to both sides.

After four years, you can see the atmosphere in all the Governing Body meetings of FAO is changing. Even when faced with challenges, or we there are so many different opinions on issues, yet after debating, after intensive discussions, there has always been consensus.

That is the real ONE FAO we need for this Group, because you are the majority of FAO. Any negative impacts, affect this Group the most. So, please make ONE FAO the sign of our true solidarity.

We need to strive to work even better together as ONE FAO if we are to achieve our shared objectives, in line with FAO’s mandate, and to deliver coherent and cohesive support to those all those who need it the most.

South-South and Triangular Cooperation, as well as strong partnerships with all stakeholders – or rather “shareholders” because you the Members are the owners – is critically important.

As I said on Monday, you decide what we need to do, and I will implement your decision at my full capacity. But as shareholders you need stakeholders and responsible partners to support you.

And these stakeholders are the private sector, academia and others, which are key to ensure no one is left behind.

Working as ONE FAO benefits both the developed world – who can rely on FAO to be a trusted and professional platform for effective and efficient multilateralism, as well as for amplifying the role and contributions of donors in helping vulnerable people around the world.

While for the developing south, it is a truly global platform to identify global solutions together and to face challenges that are mostly faced by the most vulnerable. Any delay or inefficiency will hit the vulnerable first and mostly.

That is why I want to improve and promote the effectiveness and efficiency of FAO in all the work I do.

Today, we are a new ONE FAO, based on the new Digital FAO. Now, FAO Members in small remote islands can receive all the newest documents at the same time as you are here in Rome.

Let us continue to work together in our fight against hunger and poverty, which is the real enemy in front of us.

I say this because all the Members in this Group, as well as the other FAO Members, are all colleagues.

We need to debate; we need extensive discussions. However, we are friends, human beings, small neighbors on this big planet, all working together - our common enemy is hunger and poverty.

It does not matter if you are from a developed or developing nation. If your neighbor faces hunger and poverty, you cannot enjoy your food and drink. We are all neighbors that is why I always ask donors and the private sector to support the developing nations as much as they can.

With regard to the Programme and Finance Committee meetings this week, we discussed the need for an increase, not only from voluntary contributions, but also a small increase in the assessed contributions, to establish a stable capacity to support the scope of work of the Organization.

Even some of the vulnerable communities in the developed nations need our support, not directly with food, or through the World Food Programme, but from the policy guidance that FAO can offer to the developed nations to transform their agrifood systems as well.

Knowing that what affects one of us, affects all of us because we are all together on this small planet.

Dear Colleagues,

The G77 & China Group is sharply aware that we only have 7 planting seasons left to the 2030 deadline.

I am very proud of the achievements we have reached together, but the road ahead is still long and rocky. We have to work hard and efficiently together.

Much has happened over the past year - it has been an important year of events and deliverables,

The Hand-in-Hand Investment Forum held during the World Food Forum last October was a key event that attracted USD 3 billion in investments - this was a key achievement for many G77 countries.

In FAO, we do not have money, but we can provide a large platform for the G77 to attract investments from the public and private sector, and supports from academia, NGOs and others.

That is the value added for you - through the FAO platform you can have an even bigger outreach than the international financial institutions.

I came back recently from a 10 day-trip to Africa where I warned that one billion people in Africa could not afford a healthy diet in 2020, and that the impacts of the climate crisis, conflicts, the pandemic, and the war in Ukraine, continue to raise the levels of malnutrition and hunger. 

To achieve better nutrition for all in Africa – and across all regions of the world - we need long-term political commitment, and more and better investments to transform global agrifood systems.

I also recently visited Latina America and the Caribbean on occasion of the CELAC Summit, and the Global Leaders Group (GLG) on AMR. The Caribbean SIDS are among the hardest hit by climate shocks, and we need to prioritize our work and support to protect and strengthen the resilience of people in this region and their agrifood systems.

As I said during the CELAC meeting, Latin America and the Caribbean can and must step up to address increasing hunger and inequality rates, a role that would move them to the forefront of global food and agriculture.

I was in Doha 10 days ago for the 5th UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5), where I had a number of meetings with leaders from Least Developed Countries. FAO has been and will continue to help them “graduate” as early as possible!

FAO is the only agency within the UN system to have established an Office for SIDS, LDCs and LLDCs, which was highly appraised that we had made this a systematic instrument within our institutional arrangement.

Together with the Office of SDGs and the Office of Innovation, these three Offices are unique to FAO within the whole UN system. We walk the talk! This is a big strategic step.

Because we have so much still to accomplish together, I have put forward an innovative proposal for the Program of Work and Budget for the coming two years.

As I have said many times, FAO is an important Organization with a noble mandate. For this reason, the PWB for the next biennium contains a proposal to reverse successive budget cuts for a decade, and the proposed budget level contains a modest headline dollar increase. An increase that only partially captures the cost increases from inflation. 

We will also continue to seek efficiencies and savings, reduce costs and try our best to raise the voluntary contribution through professional and innovative approaches.

A consensual approval of the proposed budget level will be a powerful signal that we are ONE FAO. We need to respect the evidence and facts, we should acknowledge the truth and based ourselves on the facts to make an informed decision.

FAO needs to continue to operate as we have been doing over the past years, at the service of ALL its Members, especially vulnerable Members. FAO has approximately 65 vulnerable Member countries.

Dear Friends,

I look forward to continuing to work with you and all FAO Members, hand-in-hand to address and overcome challenges for a better world, leaving no one behind.

I wish you all a successful year ahead under the new Chairperson, building on the heritage from the previous Chairpersons.

Thank you.