FAO Director-General Calls for Transformative Changes to Food Systems
Rome - FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva called on countries to urgently address all forms of malnutrition, during his opening address to FAO's Council, the organization's executive body.
"The coexistence of undernutrition, obesity and micronutrient deficiencies, what we know as the triple burden of malnutrition, is spreading and affecting almost every country in the world. The international community needs to urgently address this situation by promoting transformative change in our food systems," Graziano da Silva said. "Our Zero Hunger Goal is not just about feeding people, but well nourishing people by providing everyone with the necessary nutrients for a healthy life," he added.
Citing the 2018 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report, Graziano da Silva said obesity now affects around 672 million people and the increase has been faster in Africa than any other region. He also said more than two billion people globally suffer from micronutrient deficiencies.
The year ahead
The Director-General also outlined some of the major events for next year including the Food Safety Conference in Addis Ababa in February co-organized with the World Health Organization and the African Union, the Trade and Food Safety Conference in Geneva in April, and the Rural Revitalization Conference in Beijing in May. FAO, with the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme, will also host a conference in May to launch the UN Decade of Family Farming (2019-2028).
Graziano da Silva also announced that a dedicated office for South-South and Triangular Cooperation will be established, to reinforce the potential of South-South Cooperation in achieving food security and rural development.
He also outlined FAO's recent achievements including FAO's recent First International Symposium on Agricultural Innovation for Family Farmers which produced recommendations that will help to guide FAO's work on innovation, with a focus on creating more employment opportunities for youth.
Gender and geographic balance
FAO has also made strides towards gender parity among professional staff, the Director-General said, with more than 43 percent of all professional posts now held by women.
"This is FAO's highest representation of women among international professionals in the last years," Graziano da Silva said.
In relation to geographic representation among FAO's staff, the Director-General announced that the number of non-represented countries has decreased from 17 to 14, with recent appointees from Timor Leste, Belize, and Saint Kitts and Nevis, and that the percentage of equitably represented countries is now 87.6 percent.
World Soil Day
Side events during Council include an event on Wednesday to mark World Soil Day 2018 as well as events to highlight FAO's work with Belgium and Sweden, and the African Solidarity Trust Fund.
The FAO Council manages administrative and financial affairs between biennial meetings of the FAO Conference. The 160th Session is the Director-General's last Council before his term ends in July next year.