José Graziano da Silva, new FAO Director-General

Says fight against hunger must be linked to other global challenges

1 January 2012, Rome - José Graziano da Silva has formally taken the helm of the Food and Agriculture Organization.

The new Director-General is pushing for a renewed focus on food security, offering to scale up FAO support available to low-income and food deficit countries — especially those facing protracted crises.

"We will create teams that draw together the Organization's skills in policy advice, investment planning, resource mobilization, emergency response and sustainable development," the Director-General said.

"Hunger eradication should not be separated from responses to other global challenges, such as reviving national economies, protecting natural resources from degradation, and mitigating and adapting to climate change," he added.

FAO was one of the first UN agencies to be created after World War II, with the understanding that the ensuing peace had created the conditions necessary to ensure humanity's freedom from hunger.

More than a half-century later, an estimated 925 million people suffer from chronic hunger and many countries are far from achieving the first Millennium Development Goal to halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people living in hunger and extreme poverty.

As Director-General, Graziano da Silva will aim for the eradication of hunger; sustainable food production and consumption; greater fairness in global food management; conclusion of FAO's organizational reform to improve efficiency, transparency and accountability; and expansion of partnerships and South-South cooperation.

Graziano da Silva will hold his first press conference as Director-General on 3 January (watch here).

FAO's eighth Director-General

The new Director-General succeeds Jacques Diouf of Senegal, who held the post from 1994 to 2011. He is the eighth person to head FAO. Graziano da Silva's term runs from January 2012 through 31 July 2015.

Graziano da Silva was responsible for leading the design and implementation of Brazil's highly-successful "Zero Hunger" programme in 2003. Prior to being elected to FAO's top post, Graziano da Silva was FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean between 2006 and 2011.

Graziano da Silva was born on 17 November 1949. Brazilian and Italian by nationality, he holds a Bachelor's Degree in Agronomy and a Master's Degree in Rural Economics and Sociology from the University of São Paulo as well as a Ph.D. in Economic Sciences from the State University of Campinas. In addition, he has two post-Doctorate degrees in Latin American Studies (University College of London) and Environmental Studies (University of California, Santa Cruz).

Photo: ©FAO/Alessandra Benedetti
José Graziano da Silva is FAO's new Director-General