Qu Dongyu becomes first Chinese to head UN food agency
Qu Dongyu yesterday became the first Chinese national to be elected to head the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, clinching the post in the first round of voting. Qu, 55, a biologist by training, won 108 votes, followed by Catherine Geslain-Laneelle of France with 71 votes and Georgia’s Davit Kirvalidze with 12, according to official results.
“I’m very grateful to all member countries for your active participation,” the new FAO chief said after the results were announced. “Thanks also to other candidates who helped make me better. “I will be committed to FAO’s original aspirations, mandates and the missions of the organization.” His election to the helm of the Rome-based agency, which brings together 194 member countries, comes as the fight to eradicate world hunger takes a blow from global warming and wars.
Hunger blamed on the combined effects of extreme and erratic weather, economic slowdowns, and conflicts, particularly in Africa and the Middle East, has risen for the past three years. FAO has sounded the alarm over rising food insecurity and high levels of malnutrition, and Qu will have to ramp up support for smallholder farms and fisheries to combat the ills of intensive farming, food waste and poverty.
The successor to Brazil’s Jose Graziano da Silva will have to put policies in place now in preparation for feeding a world population expected to increase from 7.7 billion people to 9.7 billion in 2050.