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Codex plays an important part in the mission to end hunger


This year's edition of the CODEX magazine, titled "60 years of standards", is out now! Read some of our articles online and click on the link below to download the full publication.

Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director-General, spoke with us about the important role Codex plays in achieving the FAO mandate – and how she sees Codex evolving in the coming years.

Q: What is the role of the Codex Alimentarius in achieving the mandate of FAO improving global food security?
One of today’s greatest challenges is to provide more safe, nutritious food to more people – and to do so sustainably. This is a key role for Codex which, at the same time, drives forward FAO’s mission to end hunger and poverty. Codex promotes fair trade, laying the ground for a level playing field for developing countries to participate in the burgeoning global food trade, and boosting livelihoods across the agrifood-scape. Codex standards support Members in providing the safe, good quality food that is essential for food security and for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals - all against a challenging background that includes climate change, dwindling natural resources, widening socio-economic inequities and conflict.

Q: From the FAO perspective, what do you think has been among the most important achievements of Codex over the past 60 years?
Codex standards have become a global public good and by making them freely available, they provide all countries with the means to protect their consumers and access markets. On a personal note, I first dealt with Codex when I was Minister of Fisheries in my home country, Cabo Verde. We relied on Codex norms and rules to be able to export fish to the European Union, which involved extremely valuable capacity building with long term benefits, especially for a Small Island Development State. Indeed, Codex standards are the first line of defence for food-import dependent countries. Furthermore, Codex standards rest on the most robust, rigorous science – scientific advice proudly supported by FAO - and is recognized by the World Trade Organization are the benchmark reference for the safety of food traded internationally.

Q: We are working in an ever more complex global environment. What is key to the ongoing success of Codex in the decades ahead?
To be sure, we live with increasingly complex and interconnected challenges. We have new food sources, new production systems, new technologies, changing consumer habits - as well as the imperative to consider sustainability, One Health, climate change, dwindling natural resources and widening socio-economic inequities. Against this backdrop, Codex needs to be agile, fit-for-purpose, responding to Members’ needs to integrate emerging considerations into the Codex decision-making process reflecting both its core mandate and evolving global needs.

Q And finally what is your birthday wish for Codex?
As Codex turns 60, I hope it will continue to evolve and be relevant, taking action on new issues in a manner that will protect consumers, keep food safe and respond to global challenges - serving all our Members equally. A unique and exemplary model of partnership within the United Nations, we should use this moment to both celebrate and reflect on what we have achieved together and how we can continue to improve to meet expectations and face today’s - and tomorrow’s – challenges head-on.

Download the CODEX magazine