China's Qu elected new FAO Director-GeneralChina's Qu elected new FAO Director-General

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Qu Dongyu, newly-elected Director-General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), speaks during the 41st FAO Conference in Rome, Italy, June 23, 2019. Qu Dongyu, China's vice minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, was elected as new Director-General of FAO here on Sunday. Qu will officially take the post of new FAO chief starting on Aug. 1. (Xinhua/Alberto Lingria)

by Alessandra Cardone

ROME, June 23 (Xinhua) -- Qu Dongyu, China's vice minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, was elected as new Director-General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) here on Sunday.

Qu, 56, was chosen during the ongoing 41st FAO Conference, the highest governing body of the Rome-based agency.

The Chinese candidate received a large majority of 108 votes, winning over French Catherine Geslain-Laneelle, who received 71 votes, and Georgian Davit Kirvalidze, who got 12 votes.

"As FAO new DG, I will be committed to the original inspiration, mandate, and mission of the organization," Qu told the conference in a short address immediately after being elected.

"(I will) Take my responsibility at the supervision of conferences ... in a rule-based approach, and I will uphold the principles of openness, justice, and transparency, remaining impartial and neutral."

He also pledged to remain committed at the best of his efforts to working "for the people and the farmers" during his four-year mandate.

From the delegates of all FAO's 194 member states involved in the voting, a total of 191 votes were cast on Sunday, and one abstention was registered.

Qu will officially start in the new post on Aug. 1, and he will be the first Chinese national to serve as FAO Director-General in the history of the agency.

He will succeed Brazilian Jose Graziano Da Silva, who has served as the agency's top official for two consecutive four-year terms since being first elected in 2011.

Qu became vice minister at the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs in 2015. Before that, Qu had worked at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences headquartered in Beijing between 2001 and 2008.

The election took place during the second day of the FAO Conference, which gathers twice a year. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization was founded in 1945, and it comprises of 194 member states, plus one member organization (the European Union) and two associate members (the Faroe Islands and Tokelau).

China has joined the organization since its inception, and has long been a major contributor to the agency's activities and especially to FAO's South-South Cooperation Program.

According to the agency, FAO specific activities in China focus on five priorities, including strengthening capacity for quality and safety management of agricultural products, boosting capacity to respond to diseases, climate change and natural disasters, and promoting sustainable agro-ecological development.

This 41st session of the FAO conference opened on June 22 and would last through June 29.


WHO IS QU DONGYU?

Qu Dongyu, born in Yongzhou City in China Hunan’s province in 1963, is currently Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China. He has worked in this area for more than 30 years, building up a wealth of experience covering policy planning, administrative management, reform and innovation, and international cooperation. He graduated with a Bachelor degree from Hunan Agricultural College and from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science with a Master's degree. He received his Doctorate Degree at the Wageningen University in the Netherlands.


Since being appointed Vice-Minister in 2015, Qu Dongyu has spearheaded a number of measures that have proven instrumental in advancing China’s agricultural development. These include efforts to:


Dr. Qu has also been deeply engaged in international cooperation at the United Nations, G20, APEC and other fora. He has led China’s agri-business cooperation with Asian, African, and Latin American countries as well as China’s main trading partners of agri-produce. He has championed the implementation of flagship projects and a long-term mechanism for China-FAO South-South multilateral cooperation, thereby playing a constructive role in regional and global agricultural development.


OUR STANCE AND AN FAO FAREWELL

IFOAM - Organics International was on site in Rome to follow the elections for this instrumental position and will also attend the remainder of the Conference. As Cristina Grandi, our Cheif Food Security Campaigner, says, "it is our hope that the new Director General works efficiently to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and strengthens FAO's committment to agroecology and family farming."


We couldn’t agree more with the conclusion made by Graziano da Silva, former FAO Director General in his final speech: “The agricultural model promoted by the green revolution has a limit. It depletes natural resources. We need to promote a paradigm shift based on family farming.”



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