Directeur général  QU Dongyu
Allocutions du directeur général de la FAO QU Dongyu

170th Session of the Council

Opening Statement


Dr QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General

13 June 2022


Ladies and Gentlemen,


1.         I declared at the start of 2022 that this year would be the year of EXTRAORDINARY EFFORTS, to achieve EXTRAORDINARY RESULTS.


2.         Six months down the line, I am pleased to report on the many positive results and impacts of our collective EXTRAORDINARY work and deliverables.


3.         We have been walking the talk!


4.         The first EXTRAORDINARY ACHIEVEMENT of these past 6 months has been the round of Regional Ministerial Conferences held successfully in hybrid mode.


5.         We achieved this with EXTRAORDINARY EFFORTS from all Members and colleagues in all regions, despite the many logistic constraints due to ongoing measures related to the pandemic.


6.         On 7-11 February 2022, 36th Session of the FAO Regional Conference for the Near East was exceptionally successful with my gratitude to the Government of Iraq.


7.         The second EXTRAORDINARY ACHIEVEMENT have been the successful and intensive official visits I have been able to undertake to a number of FAO member countries since March.


8.         Extraordinary efforts were required by FAO teams both at HQ and in the countries, as well as by national authorities and Permanent Representatives here in Rome, to ensure efficient and effective visits with important results, not only at national, but also regional levels. 


9.         From 5 to 13 March, in the context of the Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific, I paid official visits to the Maldives and Bangladesh.


10.       From 29 March to 6 April, I traveled to Latin America and the Caribbean to participate in the Regional Conference in Ecuador, and visited Panama, Argentina and Chile.


11.       On 8 April, the 169th Extraordinary Session of the FAO Council was convened, at the request of Members in accordance with the FAO Basic Texts, to discuss the impact of the war in Ukraine on global food security and related matters under the mandate of FAO.


12.       The Council expressed appreciation to FAO for its professional work related to the war in Ukraine and other conflict-affected areas, highlighting the leading role of FAO in global agrifood matters, and requested the Organization to continue providing technical support in line with its mandate.


13.       From 12 to 21 April, I was in Africa for the Regional Conference, and on that occasion, I visited Equatorial Guinea, Senegal and South Africa. 


14.       In the evening of 14 April, I participated remotely in the Informal North America Regional Conference.


15.       From 9 to 11 May, I traveled to Poland for the Regional Conference for Europe and Central Asia.


16.       During the Regional Conference I met with the Delegation of Ukraine, led by the Advisor to the Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine,


17.       To discuss the impact of the war on national food security, damages and losses in agrifood systems and food production capacity, especially of smallholder farmers.


18.       The Delegation of Ukraine expressed appreciation for the support provided by FAO, including through the Rapid Response Plan.


19.       In total, during the past three months I was able to be in person in 16 countries, and to meet in person with 14 Heads of State or Government, 95 Ministers and 36 Vice-Ministers, in addition to a large number of high-level government authorities.


20.       In addition to 33 bilateral meetings with VIPs hosted in HQ, Rome.


21.       This really helps us to further understand the real situation, build up close ownership and partnership of the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31 with leaders and key ministries and speed up the transformation of agrifood systems at national and regional levels.


Dear Colleagues,


22.       Another EXTRAORDINARY ACHIEVEMENT has been FAO’s physical attendance at key international fora where I was invited to brief the international community on key areas of FAO’s work, and our response to the current challenges.


23.       From 30 April to 3 May (70 hours), I traveled to Seoul to attend the XV World Forestry Congress, hosted and co-organized by the Republic of Korea in collaboration with FAO, under the theme “Building a green, healthy and resilient future with forests”. In addition, to bolster FAO's visibility and outreach in the Near East and North Africa region, Her Royal Highness Princess Basma bint Ali of Jordan as Regional Goodwill Ambassador was invited.


24.       Outcomes of the Congress included the Seoul Forest Declaration, the Youth Call for Action, the Ministerial Call on Sustainable Wood, and a set of actionable recommendations.


25.       The Declaration recognized that forest-based solutions must include family farmers, smallholders, forest communities, Indigenous Peoples, women and youth, and must respect their rights and empower them to participate equitably in decision-making and sustainable forest value chains.


26.       From 5 to 8 May, I traveled to Azerbaijan to participate in the “International Conference on Digital Agriculture” in Baku, where I addressed participants on the potential of digital agriculture to foster the transformation of agrifood systems and promote rural development.


27.       I also traveled to Austria on 12 May to attend the UN Chief Executives Board (CEB) in person.


28.       On 11 March, while in Asia, I participated virtually from Bangladesh in the extraordinary meeting of the G7 Ministers of Agriculture under the German Presidency,


29.       And from 13 to 14 May I traveled to Stuttgart, Germany to participate in the G7 Agriculture Ministers meeting under the theme Securing Global Food Security in Times of Crisis.


30.       It was the first time the FAO Director-General was invited to participate, and I briefed the meeting on the new global food security scenario, as well as on the consequences of the war in Ukraine on food prices and supply chains.


31.       I was encouraged to see that the G7 stands united in their commitment to global food security, as reflected in the Communiqué of the meeting.


32.       The G7 also recognized AMIS as a key pillar of agricultural market transparency and committed to provide continued financial support to extend its coverage to the fertilizer market, oilseeds, modelling and logistics.


33.       From 17 to 20 May, I traveled to New York to participate in the Security Council meeting on “Maintenance of International Peace and Security – Conflict and Food Security” and “Global Food Security Ministerial Call to Action” convened under the United States monthly Presidency of the Security Council, where I delivered two clear, loud, and professional statements.


34.       I have been invited to go to New York again in early July to address the HLPF/UN Economic and Social Council.


35.       At the Security Council meeting, I stressed that agriculture is one of the keys to lasting stability and security. During past years, FAO has delivered support to members and provided global public goods as well as direct assistance in response to the worsening global food security situation due to the pandemic, disasters, conflict and climate change. This has been done through a variety of science-based analytical tools, normative work, data, and analysis and rapid response actions.


36.       We must strengthen the humanitarian-development-peace nexus.


37.       We must analyze the root causes of acute food insecurity, including conflict and the climate crisis, and apply these learnings to our actions.


38.       We are neighbors on this small planet village - what happens to one affects us all.


39.       From 30 May to 2 June, I traveled to Ireland to participate in the 11th World Potato Congress in Dublin, where I was invited to deliver the keynote address on the “Role and Potential of Potato in Global Food Security”.


40.       I emphasized that we must learn from the historical famine tragedy of 1845-47 due to potato late blight, and refresh with the newest experiences and successful stories on transforming agrifood systems in Ireland during the past 20 years.


41.       On 8 June, FAO provided technical support for the 1st Ministerial Mediterranean Dialogue on Food Crisis held in Rome, with the participation of 24 countries from 3 different continents.


42.       The Mediterranean is a region where for centuries your ancestors shared this big lake for peace and prosperity – and there are many lessons to be learned.


43.       In the meeting, I stressed the importance of keeping our global trade system open, and of ensuring that agrifood exports are not restricted or taxed.


44.       I also outlined 4 major axes across which cooperative efforts should be made:


•          One: More investment in countries that are severely affected by the current increase in food prices,

•          Two: reduction of food loss and waste,

•          Three: better and more efficient use of natural resources, especially water and fertilizer, and

•          Four: A focus on technological and social innovations that can significantly reduce market failures in agrifood systems.


45.       Following on the close cooperation with the Italian Presidency of the G20 in 2021, FAO continues to provide significant technical support to the G20 under the Indonesian Presidency.


46.       I commend Indonesia for choosing to continue to strengthen the G20’s work on the thematic areas of Resilience, Food Loss and Waste, and Digital Technologies.


47.       On 20 April, FAO was invited for the first time to address the G20 Ministers of Finance and Central Bankers meeting, to present the analysis of global food security together with the FAO proposal “Global Food Import Financing Facility” for them to address the needs of the most vulnerable.


Dear Colleagues,


48.       In recent months, we have closely followed the required COVID-19 protocol and measures in place as recommended by host governments and WHO, both at HQ in Italy and at duty stations globally.


49.       At HQ, the Italian government has now declared the end of the emergency and lightened prevention and control measures.


50.       Supported by the high level of immunization among employees, FAO also has gradually lifted or lightened some of the measures in place, as part of the move towards FAO’s “next normal”.


51.       As of today, the exceptional Crisis Management Team (CMT) put in place in HQ during the COVID-19 emergency will be discontinued.


52.       The work of the CMT will be deactivated for headquarters and responsibilities for decision-making and team management will be fully devolved to line managers.


53.       The CMT will however continue to guide and support the regions as needed.


54.       We shall continue to apply caution and be ready to reverse measures and rules should it be required.


55.       Targets of presence, as well as facemasks, are no longer mandatory, but we expect a minimum daily presence of 50% to facilitate teamwork and maximize efficiency in delivery of results.


56.       This paradigm shift has been made possible by accelerated digitalization and innovative tools, as well as changed behaviours.


57.       Today, FAO employees can work remotely for some days a week, while maintaining productivity, and with a healthy work-life balance.


58.       Hybrid meetings have become the new normal.


59.       I believe that at all locations FAO has demonstrated EXTRAORDINARY capacity to adapt to the difficult COVID-19 requirements, maintaining its business continuity and preserving the health, safety and well-being of its employees, visitors and surrounding communities.


60.       Furthermore, the upgraded medical coverage for the affiliate workforce is now fully implemented.


61.       This was crucial during COVID-19, and now includes access to remote health services in multiple languages.


62.       The 2022 Employee Satisfaction Survey is being finalized and its results, which will be shared over the next 2 months, will provide a benchmark for progress and inform actions to continue to address areas of concern, let us improve FAO together! 


63.       The transformation of Regional and Subregional Offices is smoothly underway.


64.       Regional Offices have developed a common functional structure in line with changes introduced at HQ and adapted to their specific regions. 


65.       The global impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on food security and nutrition continue to require our EXTRAORDINARY EFFORTS.


66.       The FAO COVID-19 Response and Recovery Programme continues to actively support countries in need.


67.       The Programme has received confirmed and pledged contributions totalling 466 million US Dollars - approximately 35% of the target.


68.       It has mobilized political, financial and technical support to reach a large share of rural populations and to relaunch economic activities.


Dear Colleagues,


69.       In line with FAO’s mandate and the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31, we have developed two FAO thematic strategies, on Climate Change, and on Science and Innovation, which are now before you for endorsement.


70.       These two strategies are the EXTRAORDINARY RESULT of our collective efforts.


71.       Both Strategies have been discussed at numerous informal consultations with Members at regional and global level, including at Regional Ministerial Conferences.


72.       Following this very inclusive process, it is now time to endorse the Strategies, and to allow Members to decide how best to implement them based on their national priorities and pathways.


73.       The Strategy on Climate Change will guide FAO in providing strengthened support to Members in their ambitions to address climate challenges in agrifood systems, and implementation of the Paris Agreement.


74.       The Strategy on Science and Innovation will benefit the billions of small-scale producers and their families who are urgently in need of the best available science, technologies and innovation to play their part in transforming our agrifood systems.


75.       Members have emphasized that these two thematic strategies go hand in hand, and should be implemented coherently, together with strong support from Members. I fully agreed with you.


Dear Colleagues,

76.       The implications of the war in Ukraine, and other conflicts worldwide, on global food security continue to require our holistic analysis, technical approaches and appropriate action.


77.       We have prepared 3 updates to our Information Note, 2 updates to our humanitarian response and plan.


78.       We have published our FAO Food Price Index monthly, and on 9 June we published the FAO Food Outlook – our bi-annual report on Global Food Markets.


79.       The Report shows that the global food import bill is on course to hit a new record of 1.8 trillion US Dollars this year, with an increase of 51 billion US Dollars from 2021 - of which 49 billion US Dollars reflects higher prices.


80.       Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are anticipated to undergo a 5% contraction in their food import bill this year, while sub-Saharan Africa and the group of Net Food-Importing Developing Countries are expected to register an increase in total costs, despite a reduction in imported volumes.


81.       We have also produced 8 thematic reports on the impacts of the war in Ukraine, looking into issues of soils, animal health, gender impacts, reconstruction and recovery of Ukraine, social protection, impacts on rural labour markets, and on land tenure.


82.       We have also implemented a series of tools as part of our policy decision database.


83.       Finally, FAO has also developed 8 policy proposals for the Global Crisis Response Group (GCRG) to address the global food security situation and the risks associated with the current conflicts.


84.       The war in Ukraine and other dire challenges have reduced available export supplies of food, feed, fertilizers and fuel, leading to further increased food prices and putting at risk the 2023 harvest.


85.       The FAO Food Price Index stood at 157.4 points in May 2022, down slightly from 160 points in March, but still 22.8% higher than in May 2021.


86.       Another pressing challenge relates to fertilizers, as the Russian Federation and Belarus are leading exporters of fertilizers.


87.       Lack of fertilizer availability and soaring prices could lead to lower application of fertilizers, and thus lower crop yields.


88.       With rising food prices and concerns about availability, an increasing number of countries are imposing export restrictions on food – this will make the situation even worse.


89.       If not urgently and appropriately addressed, these challenges could have serious consequences for world stability and food security.


90.       FAO continues to be committed to EXTRAORDINARY EFFORTS to bridge the humanitarian-development-peace nexus through a focus on resilience building, guided by the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31.


91.       In 2021, FAO reached more than 30 million people worldwide with emergency agricultural assistance and resilience-building programs.


92.       Despite this critical importance of agriculture to food availability and access in crisis contexts, only 8% of total funding for the emergency reaction goes to agriculture.


93.       FAO continues to help countries produce multi-risk and integrated analyses of the drivers of acute food insecurity to support decision-making and investments.


94.       The Global Network Against Food Crises Offers a platform for the international community to coordinate collective and coherent actions to prevent food crises, mitigate their impacts, and contribute to the transformation of agrifood systems.


95.       FAO remains fully committed to this Global Network to jointly identify solutions across the Humanitarian-Development-Peace nexus.


96.       Further examples of our EXTRAORDINARY ACHIEVEMENTS are the successful implementations of FAO’s flagship initiatives, with concrete results on the ground.


97.       The total number of countries that have joined the Hand-in-Hand Initiative is now 52, with 11 countries in Asia and the Pacific, 29 in Africa, 8 in Latin America and the Caribbean, 3 in the Near East and North Africa, and 1 in Europe and Central Asia.


98.       These include countries facing conflicts where the Initiative supports stronger linkages between humanitarian and development actions.


99.       Countries are using the Initiative to strengthen existing programs or develop new ones, build national capacities, and take advantage of unexploited opportunities for investments – all this can accelerate agrifood systems transformation at national level.


100.     I am proud to report that the Hand-in-Hand Geospatial Platform received the World Excellence Award in Agriculture and Food Security for the best collaborative platform towards data-driven agriculture.


101.     I wish to recognize and applaud all the FAO teams that contributed towards this EXTRAORDINARY ACHIEVEMENT, and I applaud their EXTRAORDINARY EFFORTS!


102.     The 1000 Digital Villages Initiative continues to be rolled out globally.


103.     We are currently developing a digital village readiness assessment to identify villages that have the best potential to be transformed into digital villages.


104.     We have started piloting the tool this month, and it will strengthen FAO’s e-agriculture strategy work by providing an assessment methodology for rural areas.


105.     The establishment of the International Platform for Digital Food and Agriculture operating mechanism has been initiated, including the Intergovernmental Representatives’ Group, where Regional Groups are providing nominees.


106.     The Group will be composed of 27 members, and to date we have received 20 nominees.


107.     I invite Members to complete the nomination process, and to dedicate the required resources for its full implementation.


108.     The One Country One Priority Product (OCOP) Initiative has 4 distinct characteristics: it is country inclusive, product inclusive, value chain inclusive, and stakeholder inclusive.


109.     We launched the OCOP regionally in Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean between March and May 2022, with the participation of a wide group of stakeholders.


110.     The FAO Green Cities Initiative has supported 61 cities since its launch in September 2020, and 11 projects are being implemented in 9 cities across 7 countries.


111.     Additional activities are being designed in other 8 countries, and the Regional Action Program for Africa launched in September 2021 now includes 30 cities from 10 countries.


112.     A Flexible Multi-Partner Mechanism project of 1 million US Dollars is under implementation, with an additional 1 million US Dollar project submitted in early May this year to support and expand the number of cities engaged.


113.     As a follow-up to the UN Food Systems Summit, the Urban Food Systems Coalition has been established, led by FAO and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, with 26 partners, including UN Agencies and International City Networks.


114.     The UN Food Systems Coordination Hub became operational in the first months of 2022.


115.     The structure and hosting arrangements have been finalized and the Hub Team put together.


116.     An assessment survey was conducted to identify the needs of Members to develop and implement national pathways and coalitions of action.


117.     Following the results of this assessment, a series of “Food Systems Solutions Dialogues” have been held since April and will continue until the end of the year.


118.     In April, the Oversight Steering Group of the Hub agreed on the work plan of the Hub, and the Terms of Reference of the Stakeholder Engagement Group.


119.     I am pleased to report that the efficient and effective transfer from the UN FSS to the Hub was highly appreciated by the UN Deputy Secretary-General – this is an EXTRAORDINARY RECOGNITION.


120.     The Food Coalition is continuing to support the work and priorities set by the G20 presidencies to renew global commitment at the highest level to eliminate hunger and malnutrition.


121.     It recently hosted its inaugural high-level dialogue on 27 May, with eminent women from politics and civil society discussing the role of women as key agents in global food crises.


122.     The FAO Strategy for Private Sector Engagement has taken a renewed, more dynamic and strategic approach to engaging with the private sector.


123.     It has been a year and a half of EXTRAODIRNARY EFFORTS, which include the launch of the CONNECT portal to help identify and pursue strategic engagements.


124.     We also continue to closely monitor and analyze the impact of our private sector engagements, where risk mitigation and due diligence remain critical.


125.     Recently, we have started working with the International Agri-Food Network (IAFN) to develop a Mentorship Program for Women-led SMEs in Africa.


126.     Through this Program, 50 female entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan African will gain access to knowledge and tools to grow their enterprises.


127.     We continue to actively engage with the other two Rome-based agencies, IFAD and WFP, to address the implications of the war in Ukraine on food security and agriculture,


128.     And we are collectively coordinating within the UN system at large to mitigate the global implications of the war through the Global Food Security Cluster, which is co-led by FAO and WFP, as well as through the UN Global Crisis Response Group.


129.     On 17-19 May, together with Gilbert Houngbo, David Beasley, we briefed the UN Security Council on Conflict and Food Security, and the Ministerial call to action and we reaffirmed with one voice the crucial role of the RBAs in reversing rising levels of acute hunger.


130.     We have continued to make progress on the FAO Technical Cooperation Program (TCP) Strategic Exercise with the active participation of Members, to refine our approach and the criteria for resource allocation among Regions.


131.     I look forward to concluding the exercise in the coming months.


132.     The relevance of, and demand for, TCP assistance continues to be high due to its catalytic funding.


133.     Efficient implementation in response to requests for assistance has ensured full delivery of TCP, despite the many limitations due to repeated lockdowns and a general slow-down of activities.


134.     Increased focus on effective use of TCP funds has led to an EXTRAORDINARY MOBILIZATION OF RESOURCES.


Dear Colleagues,


135.     FAO is a key partner of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification and we participated in the COP 15 in Abidjan in May, during which we reaffirmed our commitment to support efforts in land and ecosystems protection and restoration, which is the heart of agrifood systems transformation.


136.     During the event, FAO launched seven publications, including the State of the World’s Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture.


137.     We also contributed to the "Abidjan Legacy Program" to combat drought and limit the risks of desertification over the next 5 years.


138.     Achievements from the COP15 are important in the lead-up to the Biodiversity COP15 and Climate Change COP27 where water scarcity, land degradation and drought are high on the political agenda.


139.     FAO continues to contribute to the development of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, particularly those goals related directly or indirectly to food and agriculture.


140.     I am pleased to report that global policy and decision-makers are increasingly recognizing and acknowledging FAO’s technical capacity in mainstreaming biodiversity across agricultural sectors,


141.     As well as our normative, standard-setting and technical activities in the areas of genetic resources and biodiversity for food and agriculture.


142.     FAO is actively engaged in preparations for COP27, in both the negotiations process, as well as supporting Members, is also assisting initiatives proposed by the Egyptian Presidency related to agriculture and water.


143.     FAO has been proposed as a Lead for Climate-Resilient Agriculture and was nominated to participate in the initiatives on Waste, and on Nutrition.


144.     As a global leader on aquatic food systems with the mandate to support sustainable fisheries and aquaculture development, FAO is actively engaged in the preparations of the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon at the end of June, where I will lead the FAO delegation with solidarity, sustainability, science, and visibility under one UN.


145.     During the Ocean Conference, FAO will launch the 2022 edition of the State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture Report (SOFIA 2022), which will present the latest available fisheries and aquaculture statistics, trends, development patterns and challenges, as well as Blue Transformation.


146.     The International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture 2022 now reaches its halfway mark, with a large number of events and initiatives calling for action for small-scale fishers at regional and national level, communicated in 13 languages, reaching a wide global audience on social and traditional media with over 42 900 website users, 99 000 page views, and 1 200 social media posts related to artisanal fisheries and aquaculture by over 117 million social media accounts.




148.     FAO is leading the transformation of agrifood systems through mainstreaming One Health through the One Health Priority Program Area.


149.     FAO has supported One Health capacity development of farmers and other national actors to respond to the threats to the agrifood systems through the establishment of 6 Virtual Learning Centers.


150.     Under FAO’s Chair of the One Health Tripartite, FAO collaborated with its One Health partners in the development of the One Health Joint Plan of Action and signed the agreement with UNEP to form the One Health Quadripartite.


151.     FAO’s Youth Engagement Initiatives are working to increase communication with youth in One Health and AMR advocacy to invest in the future generations of One Health leaders.


Dear Colleagues,


152.     The FAO Youth Committee and FAO Women’s Committee are two EXTRAORDINARY ACHIEVEMENTS, backed by our extraordinary youthful employees and women colleagues. You can do more and better!


153.     The FAO Youth Committee has been actively networking among young and youthful FAO employees and reaching out to major youth groups from around the world, with the launch of the first-ever World Food Forum at the ECOSOC Youth Forum in 2021.


154.     In 2022, the Forum is building on the EXTRAORDINARY SUCCESS of the previous year, continuing to expand and amplify its outreach, listen to youth calls-to-action, identify innovative solutions, and roll out of the Young Scientist Group.


155.     This year, the FAO Women’s Committee launched the campaign “Women in ICT” on International Day for Girls in ICT on 22 April, which features testimonies of women engaged in ICT, highlighting the diversity of FAO’s workforce.


156.     The World Food Day 2022 campaign has been launched with the theme “Leave no one behind”, underlining how the Four Betters are a holistic approach to ensuring progress for all.


157.     The campaign calls for global solidarity and action to transform agrifood systems in a bid to foster inclusive economic growth, address inequalities, increase resilience, and achieve sustainable development.


158.     This year we launched the newly structured FAO Awards to recognize progress in the transformation of agrifood systems and achievement of the SDGs.


159.     During this Council session, we will celebrate the first winners of the FAO Champion Award and the FAO Partnership Award.


160.     I look forward to celebrating this fresh start!


Dear Colleagues,


161.     My 34 months in office have been marked by dynamics, humanity, family values, professionalism, innovation, inclusiveness, efficiency, effectiveness, solidarity and above all, the EXTRAORDINARY EFFORTS with EXTRAORDINARY RESULTS by all FAO employees, and Members during pressing times. I deeply appreciated all of you!


162.     Let us continue to work together in strong partnership to face EXTRAORDINARY CHALLENGES for people, planet, and prosperity.


I thank you.