Rome -- FAO Members approved FAO's Programme of Work and Budget for 2014-2015 at the end of the Organization's week-long 38th governing Conference at FAO Headquarters in Rome.
'I want to thank and applaud all of you for showing such a clear sign of commitment to this Organization and its goals - to your Organization, and your goals,' FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva told Members.
'The consensus showed a willingness to work together to overcome differences. It showed trust. And it showed commitment to work together towards the hunger-free and sustainable future we all want,' added Graziano da Silva.
The budget agreed by Members of $1,028.1 million, representing a 2.2 percent increase over the current biennium, will enable the Organization to deliver its proposed programme of work focusing on five strategic objectives and a sixth objective related to the technical and normative work of the Organization (see Box).
Graziano da Silva also called on FAO's Members to support with voluntary contributions the full achievement of the strategic objectives and implementation of the Programme of Work, which received unanimous and vigorous backing from the Conference.
Increased food production not enough
The 38th FAO Conference opened last Saturday with Nobel Economics Laureate Amartya Sen delivering the traditional McDougall Lecture on food security and telling delegates that if the world wants to conquer hunger, it needs to tackle all the causes of hunger simultaneously particularly poverty, and not just concentrate on producing more food.
His words were echoed by Pope Francis when he received FAO Conference delegates in an audience on Wednesday.
'It is a well-known fact that current levels of production are sufficient, yet millions of people are still suffering and dying of starvation. This is truly scandalous,' the Pope said.
FAO's new Programme of Work recognizes the need of a more integral approach to promote food security, including social protection in its scope of action.
Successes in fighting hunger
During the Conference, FAO formally recognized 38 countries for reducing hunger by half well ahead of the 2015 deadline. Twenty of them achieved the first Millennium Development Goal of halving the percentage of hungry people in their populations. Eighteen also achieved the more stringent 1996 World Food Summit's target of halving the number of their hungry citizens.
'We need to ride this momentum forward towards the complete eradication of hunger. We are the first generation that can end hunger. Let us seize this opportunity,' Graziano da Silva declared.
The Conference also approved the change of FAO's first Global Goal from the reduction to the eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.
Stepping up efforts in Africa
At a side-event during the Conference, Angola announced a $10 million contribution to the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund, through which African countries will finance food security efforts in the region. This donation adds to the $ 30 million donated earlier by Equatorial Guinea and other contribution from Cameroon and African civil society organizations.
Renewing partnership to end hunger in Africa will be the focus of a high-level meeting to take place on June 30-July 1, co-organized by the African Union, FAO and Brazil's Instituto Lula, with the participation of IFAD, WFP and other partners.
FAO welcomes new members
The Conference voted to accept Brunei Darussalam, Singapore and South Sudan as new FAO Member Countries, bringing total membership of the Organization to 197, comprising 194 Member Nations, 1 Member Organization (the European Union) and 2 Associate Members (Faroe Islands and Tokelau).
The Conference also elected Mr Wilfred Joseph Ngirwa of the United Republic of Tanzania as Independent Chairperson of FAO's executive Council for the period July 2013 to June 2015. Ngirwa served as Tanzania's Permanent Representative to United Nations food agencies in Rome between 2006 and 2012 and previously served as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security in Tanzania.