ROME, ITALY — As week-long deliberations of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Council came to a close, its director-general stressed that actions must be taken globally to overcome all the challenges.
“Nobody must be left behind,” said José Graziano da Silva on Dec. 7 to member states. He also praised participants for making decisions by consensus with a focus “on substantive issues rather than micromanagement.”
Innovation is needed because Sustainable Development Goals cannot be achieved with traditional agricultural approaches, he said.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is the fundamental tool for joint action to achieve global goals such as eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and assuring a viable environment, he noted.
Deliberations at this year’s council included budgetary blueprints and discussion on proposed initiatives, including proposals put forth by member states or technical committees governing FAO’s main areas of work, including agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
He also urged member states to honor the requirements they place on the FAO with appropriate funding. This year’s council included 32 specific items that will require budgetary resources, sparking the director-general’s “concern that countries continue to ask FAO to do more and more with less and less.”
Council members endorsed the FAO’s leading role in sustainable agriculture and food systems, indicating they support the organization as “the right forum to tackle these matters.”
The FAO also hosted a high-level panel on the African Solidarity Trust Fund, an innovative Africa-led fund to support African development initiatives set up in 2013 with generous endowment from Equatorial Guinea and Angola.
The fund has since supported 18 projects in 40 countries, benefitting thousands of rural people across the continent.
Graziano da Silva highlighted some of these successes, including one called Nigeriens Nourish Nigerien and another supporting the recovery of Sierra Leone’s agribusiness sector after the Ebola crisis in that country.
He welcomed the intentions of African countries to replenish the fund, which in its next phase will build on the successful implementation and lessons learned so far as well as expand by including innovative financial modalities in order to receive contributions from development partners outside of Africa, particularly from the private sector.
“All African governments need financial support to build the resilience of family farmers to the impacts of conflicts and climate, as well as to meet the challenges of youth unemployment, women empowerment, forced migration and the lack of infrastructure,” Graziano da Silva said. “There is no doubt that the African Solidarity Trust Fund can play an important role.”