African Union Commission, Thai Ministry and National Geographic Society receive awards from FAO

Prizes honour outstanding contributions to global food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture

30 November 2015, Rome - The African Union Commission (AUC), Thailand's Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, the National Geographic Society and the non-profit World Rural Forum have received awards today for their outstanding efforts in support of Zero Hunger, to improve nutrition and raise awareness of the challenges facing the world's food systems.

The awards ceremony, which took place at FAO headquarters at the start of the Organization's governing Council, is the last in a series of events this year marking the 70th anniversary of the UN agency's founding.

Former FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf attended the ceremony and presented an award named in his honor to Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC). The award recognizes the AUC's efforts to boost sustainable agriculture, food security and nutrition through its Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).  The CAADP helped pave the way to the commitment at the 23rd AU summit in Malabo to eradicate hunger in Africa by 2025.

The AUC shares the award with the World Rural Forum, a globe-spanning network of rural organizations and researchers, which works to support dialogues among rural communities and its policy advocacy on behalf of family farmers. 

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva in a video message congratulated the winners and said: "Our mission now is to help countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal, and prepare a greater event in 2030 to celebrate the eradication of hunger and extreme poverty. We have the conditions for that. Let us be the first generation free from hunger. Let us all work together to make it a reality."

The awards ceremony featured a special musical performance by a well-known Rome-based musical group, the Piazza Vittorio Orchestra, and a young multi-ethnic band the Piccola Orchestra di Tor Pignattara.

National Geographic Society receives journalism award

The National Geographic Society has received FAO's A.H. Boerma Journalism Award - awarded to journalists who have brought food security and rural development issues to the attention of civil society - for its ground-breaking series,The Future of Food, an in-depth exploration of the planet's diverse food systems and options for feeding a growing global population in a sustainable way.

Thailand's Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MOAC) has been named the winner of the 2014-15 Edouard Saouma Award for spearheading regional collaboration across the Greater Mekong Sub-region to combat a destructive crop pest, the Cassava Mealybug. The award is presented to institutions that have implemented with particular efficiency a project funded by FAO's Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP).

The Stop Illegal Fishing (SIF) Working Group in Botswana has received the Margarita Lizárraga Award for 2013-2014 for having effectively used knowledge sharing and partnerships to apply the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries despite limited resources. 

FAO staff recognized for their efforts in the field

Four FAO staff members have also won recognition for their work in the field to promote sustainable agriculture, build resilient rural communities, and improve food and nutrition security. The B.R. Sen Awards recognizes FAO field officers for outstanding contributions to the advancement of their country or countries of assignment.

Ciro Fiorillo, Head of FAO's office in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Cyprien Felix Biaou, Livestock Development Officer for the FAO Subregional Office for Central Africa in Gabon, have been named winners of the B.R. Sen Award for 2013. Fiorillo has been recognized for his exceptional leadership of the National Food Policy Capacity in Bangladesh, and Biaou has received the award for his outstanding contribution to the livestock sector programme in Somalia.

Lalita Bhattacharjee, with FAO's Bangladesh operation, has been recognized for her outstanding contribution to food-based nutrition and nutrition sensitive approaches in Bangladesh, for the 2014 period. She shares the award with Mamoudou Diallo, who has been awarded for his exceptional leadership as FAO Representative in Angola, which enabled the Organization to make significant progress in the reduction of food insecurity in the country.

Photo: ©FAO/Giuseppe Carotenuto
Rome's Orchestra di "Piazza Vittorio" plays during the 2015 FAO awards ceremony.