The director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Qu Dongyu, presented to the FAO Council a second set of measures to reform the UN agency. These follow those approved by the Council in December 2019, aimed at making FAO more agile, efficient, and accountable. He also outlined the current and future challenges facing food security and agriculture at large, and his vision to respond to them.
The proposed new measures are aimed at improving FAO’s efficiency and effectiveness “while avoiding silos and establishing transparency and accountability at the optimal levels,” added Dongyu, in a press release.
A fundamental element is the proposal to implement a modular and more flexible organizational structure, thereby ensuring agility, optimal cross-sectoral collaboration, and better responses to emerging needs and priorities. This includes grouping at the center of the organization the core leadership team, consisting of the three deputy directors-general, the chief economist, the chief scientist, and the director of cabinet, who will support the director-general in all areas of FAO’s mandate.
The directors of divisions, centers, and offices, as experts in their respective subjects, would report directly to members of the core leadership team in a dual reporting setup, thereby strengthening internal consensus and synergy and minimizing bureaucracy.
Other proposals include the creation of a new Office of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a new Division on Food Systems and Food Safety, which would provide strategic leadership in the development of more sustainable food systems, an independent Ombudsperson’s Office, and the strengthening of the Organization’s centers of cooperation.
The director-general also intends to strengthen the capacities of FAO country and regional offices. “Our country offices are the backbone of FAO’s delivery,” said Dongyu. “We will ensure that they receive adequate support and service on the ground. This empowering will be accompanied with a clear push for more tangible deliverables and by a 360-degree evaluation.”
The new measures would come into effect once approved by the Council, composed of 49 member countries. The Council is the executive organ of the FAO Conference—the organization’s highest decision-making body—which meets every two years.