A first ever hand-over ceremony on 31 July has marked the transition from FAO's outgoing Director General, Mr José Graziano da Silva, and incoming Director General, Mr Qu Dongyu. Mr José Graziano Da Silva expressed his strong confidence in Dr Qu's expertise and stressed the importance of FAO's double-role (standard-setting and normative work and technical cooperation) while stressing that FAO's relevance in the field. Graziano Da Silva recalled that the least progress among SDGs has been achieved on SDG 2 (Zero Hunger) and mentioned a proposal to UN Secretary General Guterres to organise a Summit on Food Systems in 2021. He stressed that better regulated food systems, cooperation with the private sector and consumer organisations can lead to safer food and healthier diets. Incoming FAO DG Mr Qu Dongyu paid deep respect for Graziano da Silva's work at FAO and thanked him for a smooth transition process that he considered a new culture for FAO. Qu Dongyu said he intended to work for a FAO that applies modern science and technology and adopts innovative approaches. His goal is to make FAO more dynamic, transparent and inclusive in the coming four years. The Regional Group representatives of Africa, Asia, Europe, South America and North America took the floor to thank the outgoing FAO DG and welcome the new FAO DG.
EU Permanent Representative Ambassador Jan Tombiński thanked Mr. Graziano Da Silva for managing the organisation by delivering more with less in the aftermath of the global financial crises. He recalled many joint EU-FAO actions and EU’s role as the largest collective partner of the FAO in delivering on numerous objectives. Ambassador Tombiński congratulated Mr Qu Dongyu and China on the successful election. FAO DG Qu Dongyu will need to face the increase in hunger, that the Pope Francis calls the biggest scandal of the 21st century. Regarding FAO's future Ambassador Tombiński highlighted the following priorities: the need for a strategic framework aligned to the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development, partnerships and a strengthened cooperative work capitalising better on FAO’s main asset, its human resources, with more transparency, an improved financial management, to ensure a workplace free from harassment, discrimination and abuse. Ambassador Tombiński concluded by underscoring that the EU considers FAO a pillar of the global multilateral governance and the new FAO DG could count on the EU’s constructive commitment to FAO's mission.