FAO Director General Visits Alliance to End Hunger, Discusses Food Security Issues with U.S. Civil Society

October 3, 2016

Nathan Magrath, Alliance to End Hunger

FAO Director General José Graziano da Silva and Alliance to End Hunger President Rev. David Beckmann. (Photo: Barbara Ekwall/FAO)

FAO Director General José Graziano da Silva and Alliance to End Hunger President Rev. David Beckmann. (Photo: Barbara Ekwall/FAO)

On September 16, the head of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Director-General José Graziano da Silva, visited the Alliance to End Hunger to meet with a number of U.S. civil society leaders on the forefront of the fight against food insecurity. Based in Rome, Graziano da Silva has led the FAO since 2012. He is also well known for his former role as Minister for Food Security in his home country Brazil, where he led the nation’s widely-praised “Fome Zero” (Zero Hunger) program.

The breakfast discussion was attended by representatives of approximately 20 civil society organizations. The President of the Alliance to End Hunger, Rev. David Beckmann, introduced Graziano da Silva, praising FAO’s role in food security-related development and thought leadership.

The subsequent discussion focused on the critical theme of how to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) around ending hunger in a way that is inclusive, cross-cutting, and also realistic. The Director-General of FAO reinforced that achievement of the global goals can only be accomplished by addressing them together, and not trying to tackle them in isolation one of the other. Many of the issues within the goals (climate, gender, education, etc.) are integral parts throughout the entire development agenda. Relatedly, he stated the need for a strong focus on partnerships that encompasses civil society, the private sector, and governments; and he praised countries that were increasing their inclusive approach to combating food insecurity. The Director-General also urged a stronger focus on “south-south” cooperation and knowledge exchange among farmers in the developing world.

Finally, Graziano da Silva praised the passage of the recent Global Food Security Act, which codifies the U.S. government’s international strategy to combat food insecurity. In reflecting on this, he reinforced the important role that legislations can play in successfully ending hunger.

Looking forward, the Director General stated FAO’s desire to see itself remain at the forefront of global development trends – remarking that the organization was actively recruiting experts in areas of data/statistical analysis, nutrition, social protection, climate change, and other areas relevant toward implementation of the SDGs. He also highlighted that U.S. citizens are under-represented among staff of FAO and that the Organization welcomes applications from U.S. citizens for open positions.

The Alliance to End Hunger and FAO are currently cooperating on a number of levels. For the past two years, the two organizations have collaborated on events at the World Food Prize focused on cross-cutting issues related to food security in the United States and around the world. They have also partnered more formally to initiate a series of activities that leverage the knowledge and expertise of both the FAO and the Alliance to strengthen the political will to end hunger everywhere.