The Brazilian José Graziano da Silva took office as Director General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on 1st January. As successor to Jacques Diouf, he is the eighth Director General of the FAO, confirming the rise of emerging countries in international affaires.
This appointment is a milestone in the history of the FAO, and more generally for global agricultural governance. During his three-year term, ending in July 2015, José Graziano da Silva will indeed have to face a series of critical challenges.
First of all, 2015 will be the year that in theory, the Millennium Development Goals launched in 1995 will be met, including the first, which was to halve the number of undernourished people. This is far from the case because the number of people suffering from hunger in the world rose from 770 million in 1995 to 925 million in 2010: the FAO will have to significantly increase its efforts in this area.
They do have new leverage since G20 agriculture ministers, during their action plan of 22nd and 23rd June, emphasized that strong global governance was “essential” and called for the FAO to “play its crucial role” on this issue and to “implement the current reform for improving efficiency, transparency and effectiveness.”1
Initiated in 2008, following an audit entitled “FAO: the challenge of renewal”2 in which the authors indicated the urgent need for FAO reform in order to increase policy effectiveness, the reform process has since been accompanied by the intensification of the FAO’s prescriptive nature in international agricultural negotiations, facilitated by a greatly deteriorated context when, in 2009, the fateful threshold of one billion people hungry worldwide was crossed.
In his first press conference as Director General of the FAO on 3rd January, José Graziano da Silva said he would work to complete this reform. The next three years will therefore be fundamental both for the FAO and for the development of global agricultural governance.
1 See http://agriculture.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/2011-06-23_-_Plan_d_action_-_VFinale.pdf
2 Cf See the FAO’s report : http://www.fao.org/unfao/bodies/IEE-Working-Draft-Report/K0489F.pdf