FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva opening 155th Session of FAO’s Council
5 December 2016, Rome – FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva opened a week-long session of the organization’s executive council, urging members to approve proposals aimed at increasing efforts to address climate change and achieve sustainable development.
“We urgently need to act, we have to strongly implement the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement,” he said, stressing that this requires “a race against time to safeguard our planet and people’s lives.”
In this context, Graziano da Silva said FAO wants to adjust its management structure so that the agency can better assist countries in ensuring that their agricultural sectors can contribute to address critical issues relating to climate change and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, including by improving the quality of data to monitor and evaluate progress made.
To achieve this, FAO intends to create a new Department for Climate, Land and Water, a new Office of Chief Statistician and also appoint a new Deputy Director-General who will oversee the UN agency’s work related to technical cooperation, resource mobilization, partnerships and South-South cooperation.
“The time to promote these adjustments is now, otherwise FAO will lose precious time to better support countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,” Graziano da Silva said.
He noted how the Organization is not requesting additional funding to put in place the proposed changes. The cost would instead be borne out of savings from the current biennium budget, he explained.
Praise for progress in FAO’s performance
Graziano da Silva told council delegates that the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) in a new report has recognized FAO’s improved performance in recent years.
The FAO Director-General quoted an excerpt from DFID’s 2016 Multilateral Development Review which states: “The FAO stands out in this 2016 Review as a much improved performer. This improvement was underpinned by strong direction from the top of the organization.”
The DFID report underscored how: “FAO now has a clearer vision and reports on results, it has modernized its management structure and delivered significant efficiency savings of over $100 million between 2011 and 2015.”
Graziano da Silva described this as “an outstanding recognition” of the measures implemented in the last years, in which FAO management and member countries together have made the agency “more and more efficient and effective”.