08 February 2024, Rome: QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), set out a vision for the next four years, as he addressed the Organization’s first Employee Townhall for 2024. Qu emphasized that the focus would be on an All-in-One One FAO approach.
Evoking the spirit of the Year of the Dragon ushered in by the Chinese Lunar New Year, regarded as a symbol of strength, dynamism and good fortune, which promises positive beginnings and prosperity, as well as courage, wisdom and harmony between humanity and nature, Qu called for these qualities to “inspire us all as we embark on new journeys in the coming year.”
The Director-General said his first four years as FAO leader were characterized by the “4 Es V1.0” – Efficiency, Effectiveness, Extraordinary and Excellence. His second term, which started in August 2023, would be guided by the “Four Rs V1.0” Recovery, Reform, Rebuild and Renaissance of FAO, based on the achievements of the “4Es.”
Five key focus areas
During his second term, Qu set out a focus on five key areas:
One: further increasing resource mobilization and scaling up of both traditional and new partners.
Two: fully leveraging FAO’s potential and advancing innovation-driven transformation combined with traditional knowledge. In this regard, FAO will establish a global food and agriculture museum and network, which will include the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Sites (GIAHS).
Three: the World Food Forum will continue to assist in promoting tailored investment under the FAO Hand-in-Hand Initiative to provide solid support for less developed countries; promote science ad innovation as the key accelerators of transformation; and to mobilize the global youth as agents of change.
Four: strengthening FAO’s capacity and capability to serve Members. FAO needs to be fit-for-purpose, agile and modern to support efficiently and effectively Members, and the farmers of the world by strengthening the decentralized offices.
Five: improving human resources development and attracting global talents.
Ongoing global challenges
The FAO Director-General described ongoing global challenges, including wars and conflicts, the climate crisis, and economic downturns in many parts of the world, as casting a long shadow over the Organization’s work.
Successful examples of how FAO scaled up its delivery during challenging times include Afghanistan, Yemen, and Sudan, which provide a blueprint for the way forward, he said.
From 2024, Qu noted that FAO had a corporate target in its Programme of Work and Budget to support 80 million people a year with emergency and resilience activities.
“As we observe limited funding in the humanitarian sphere, we need to strengthen FAO’s comparative advantage – we have a unique role to play in attracting investment in emergency agriculture and livelihoods so millions of people can put food on their table every day.
The past two years have been record-breaking in FAO history for resource mobilization – with the Organization passing the USD 2 billion mark in both years, he added.
Concepts to concrete actions
Qu thanked FAO employees for taking “concepts” and translating them into “concrete actions” on the ground with tangible outcomes.
For example, 83 countries have now joined the joining the One Country One Priority Product Initiative.
Through the Green Cities Initiative, FAO has provided support to over 100 cities globally.
Over the next two years, Qu called for support for the implementation of the Biennial theme of “water resource management for the Four Betters, for the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs”.
The Town Hall also addressed dozens of questions sent by employees worldwide, taking in a variety of topics including logistics, conditions of service for staff working in decentralized offices and training across the Organization.
The full speech of the FAO Director-General can be accessed here.
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