China's Qu Dongyu takes over as FAO chief

Rome, Aug 1 (IANS/AKI) Qu Dongyu, the new head of the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), marked his first day in the job on Thursday by outlining his priorities including global efforts to wipe out hunger in the world and driving forward initiatives to make agriculture more sustainable.

Qu began by greeting staff at the agency's Rome headquarters and visiting them in their individual offices, according to a FAO statement.

"Let's work together, learn together and contribute together for the benefit of our (FAO's) member countries," he said.

Qu, a former Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China, in June won elections to lead the Rome-based agency. He has stressed the crucial role that FAO, which has 194 member states, can play in addressing key global challenges.

The key challenges facing the planet include rising rates of hunger and malnutrition, climate change-related risks to agriculture, ongoing natural resource depletion and environmental pollution, and the growing spread of trans-boundary animal and plant pests and diseases, said the statement.

Qu called for urgent action to eliminate hunger is the world and targeted poverty eradication, while driving agricultural and rural sustainable development through innovation, including digital innovation.

He called for a special focus on strengthening agriculture in tropical and dryland areas, which are home to some of the most vulnerable populations in the world, the statement said.

Another priority outlined by Qu was the importance for FAO to scale up new partnerships and cooperative mechanisms, including with other UN agencies, governments, business, and academia and research institutes.

Qu stressed the need for FAO to encourage developed countries to match their strengths in terms of funds, technology and management with those of developing countries, such as land and workforce resources

Noting that "hand-in-hand" development cooperation between countries of the global South should be expanded, he said that FAO's South-South Cooperation portals could further facilitate and promote the sharing of agriculture development concepts, policy measures, practical technologies and farmers' innovations.

Qu also underscored FAO's contribution to SSC by bringing together different partners including the public sector, financial institutions, and non-governmental organizations to forge consensus for more extensive cooperation.

FAO should also foster its strength in global normative work and reinforce its position as a global response centre for food and agricultural crises in collaboration with other international organisations, while taking on a more full-fledged role in building the capacities of its member countries.

To achieve these objectives, Qu pledged to make FAO an international organization with world-class internal governance.

Achieving this goal will mean giving special attention to young people working at the UN agency, but at the same time recognising the value and the experience of senior staff, he said.

--IANS/AKI

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