December 2, 2011. Rome, Italy. In a statement to a full house at the 143rd Session of the FAO Council, the Organization’s Director-General Elect José Graziano da Silva presented a roadmap for his term that begins in January 2012.
Renewing the focus on the fight against hunger; rebuilding trust with member states through an open and constructive relationship; concluding FAO’s reform; building a leaner and more efficient FAO to promote sustainable agriculture and food security; and reinforcing a bottom-up approach to planning and budget to assure that country needs receive adequate response were among the issues touched upon by Graziano da Silva in his speech to the Council.
He started by recalling the five pillars on which he campaigned for FAO and noted the convergence between the views and priorities that all candidates presented and that are also shared by Member States.
“We have a common vision for the Organization’s future, inspired by the goals for which it was originally created. Now the time has come to begin our work together”, said Graziano da Silva.
Graziano da Silva proposed a special focus at the national and global levels to regain lost ground in the fight against hunger. Globally, he defended the need for a more effective global governance system for food security, with an active participation of all stakeholders and a strengthened Committee on World Food Security.
At the national level, he committed to scaling up support available to the low-income and food deficit countries, especially those facing protracted crises, cutting across the traditional divide between emergency and development.
“I intend to create teams that draw together the Organization’s skills in policy advice, investment planning, resource mobilization, emergency response and sustainable development. I will also take steps to deepen our collaboration at country level with other UN agencies, development partners, regional organizations and civil society already working in these countries. I look also to strengthen links with private sector enterprises that share our goals, as well as to mobilize additional support through South-South Cooperation”, he said.
Following the statement by the Director-General Elect, 45 delegates took the floor and spoke on behalf of countries or groups of countries representing all the regions that belong to FAO. They expressed support for the entire content of the speech, including the 5 pillars of his platform, manifested their will to work together with the new administration, welcomed Graziano da Silva’s call for all countries to participate in this new FAO and praised the openness, transparency and consultative approach he proposed.
“Rebuilding trust must be based on the recognition that we – the Member Countries and the Secretariat – have shared goals and complementary responsibilities, as clearly established in our Constitution. Trust requires that we work together with total transparency,” Graziano da Silva emphasized.
The Director-General Elect also praised FAO’s staff as the organization’s “most valuable asset” and added that “Management and staff must work together in a more collegiate and integrated manner to improve FAO’s performance at all levels.”
During his statement, Graziano da Silva also reaffirmed his support to the reform of the Organization and his commitment to bring the reform to a satisfactory end so that the Organization can put its “full effort into better delivering and responding to the challenges we face”.
He compared the ongoing cost of FAO reform to the cash for work programmes the Organization is promoting as part of its emergency response in Somalia. Investments in these programmes should reach US$30 million in 2011 benefitting 130 thousand households, while the reform is expected to cost almost US$90 million in financial resources alone between 2009 and 2013.
Finally, Graziano da Silva thanked the incumbent Director-General Jacques Diouf, who steps down at the end of the year. Graziano da Silva recalled the support received when he was preparing to launch the Zero Hunger Programme in December 2002 and acknowledged the “invaluable contribution he [Jacques Diouf] has given during the past 18 years to the cause of food security, positioning the fight against hunger at the top of the global agenda”.