ROME – José Graziano da Silva, the new director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), gave his inaugural press conference two days after assuming office, in which he declared that eliminating hunger and undernourishment from the world will be his top priority.
With a term in office of only three-and-a-half years, there is no time to lose, Graziano da Silva told journalists. FAO would begin by scaling up its support to a number of low-income, food-deficit countries, especially those facing prolonged crises.
"Ending hunger requires the commitment of everyone: neither FAO nor any other agency or government will win this war alone," he said, adding that he wanted to work "in the most transparent and democratic way" with member countries, United Nations agencies the private sector, civil society and other stakeholders.
Graziano da Silva said hunger eradication was the first of five strategic priorities he intended to pursue at FAO. The other four priorities include: move toward more sustainable systems of food production and consumption; achieve greater fairness in the global management of food; complete FAO's reform and decentralization; and expand South-South cooperation and other partnerships.
"We need to rebuild trust between the Secretariat and member states to move forward, and I plan to do so by promoting a transparent and constructive relationship with member states and FAO Governing Bodies," he said.
Graziano da Silva also said he would strive to make FAO more effective and responsive by administrative cost-cutting and efficiency gains. Efficiency savings would not cut into FAO's technical work, he stressed, and he added he would try to use them to strengthen the organization's direct assistance to countries.
"I am convinced that the organization can make a significant and growing contribution to food security and sustainable food production and consumption in the world," he concluded.