“If we don’t achieve efficiency, who is the big loser?” he asked. “Poor people.”
The Director-General briefed the G77 and China bureau members –the largest intergovernmental organization of developing countries in the United Nations, which provides the means for the countries of the South to articulate and promote their collective economic interests and enhance their joint negotiating capacity – on his planned overhaul of FAO’s organizational structure, which will be under consideration at the upcoming FAO Council Session (6 – 10 July).
Almost a year into his term, Qu said the changes would allow for a new business model that in turn would lead to faster capacity building and delivery of services to the world’s family farmers.
“FAO needs to be faster as poorer developing countries often do not have enough time for drawn-out policy debates,” he said, adding that “while vulnerable peoples in the world’s Small Island States, Landlocked Countries and Least and Less-Developed Countries are priority targets, a One FAO approach is a cardinal goal as larger countries are also home to many poor and food-insecure people when measured in absolute numbers.”
Moreover, even when family farmers in some regions have large holdings, they are “still very small” compared to international markets, Qu said. In this context, innovation and new technologies are a key need everywhere, even in wealthier countries.
The Director-General referred to FAO’s Basic Texts, saying they were the “greatest denominator” of the Organization’s mandates and a way for Member States to protect their own rights.
Regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, QU said that FAO has sought to encourage all Members to keep their food supply chains open and sustainable, and to foster more and better food production. “Better means better quality, better nutrition, better environment and a better life for smallholder farmers, not just consumers,” he said.
The COVID-19 international health emergency has also given a big push for FAO to roll out its digital approach. For the first time, the FAO Council will meet virtually, and it is unlikely to be the last in the “new normal” triggered by the pandemic, he said.
The Director-General is seeking to expedite decisions and project management at FAO, where the current two-year Programme of Work and Budget (2020-2021) was approved before he took office on 1 August 2019.
Qu emphasized his goal is to substantially improve efficiency and effectiveness and eliminate delays in the Organization’s delivery that are linked to bureaucracy.