On Tuesday incoming FAO boss José Graziano da Silva (right) gave his first press conference, so I did one of those rabbit in the headlights interviews down the line for Al Jazeera on the role of the FAO (results below). Al Jazeera is rapidly becoming my favourite news channel – not just for its unrivalled coverage of the Arab Spring but for its wider development coverage. Which other major global news outlet would devote 20 minutes to how to sort out the multilateral food system?
Anyway, back to Graziano. He reiterated the five priorities he has set out for his leadership of the FAO: end hunger; move towards more sustainable systems of food production and consumption; achieve greater fairness in the global management of food; complete the FAO’s reform and decentralization; and expand South-South cooperation and other partnerships.
All good stuff (although the FAO also needs to do much more on gender, as I say in the interview), and everyone wants him to succeed – as we grapple with the ‘perfect storm’ of high/volatile food prices, resource constraints and climate change over the next few decades, we really need a fully functioning, effective, non-sclerotic FAO leading the way. One ground for optimism is that Graziano was in charge of implementing Brazil’s hugely impressive ‘zero hunger’ campaign, and at the press conference he stressed the importance of that kind of top level political backing to getting things done. He also emphasized the need for the FAO to get out of its bunker and talk to governments, civil society organizations, farmers and others. Fingers crossed.