FAO Council Creates Department of Climate, Biodiversity, Land and Water
UN Photo/Gill Fickling
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The 155th session of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) Executive Council approved the creation of a Department of Climate, Biodiversity, Land and Water, which will oversee all FAO work related to the sustainable management of land and water resources that underpin global food production.

The FAO Council also endorsed an updated Strategic Framework that reflects the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and incorporates SDG metrics, indicators and targets into FAO's own progress monitoring framework.

9 December 2016: The 155th session of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) Executive Council approved the creation of a Department of Climate, Biodiversity, Land and Water, which will oversee all FAO work related to the sustainable management of land and water resources that underpin global food production. Starting in 2017, the Department will lead FAO’s efforts to support countries adapting their food systems to climate change and fulfilling their commitments made under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The FAO Council also endorsed an updated Strategic Framework that reflects the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and incorporates SDG metrics, indicators and targets into FAO’s own progress monitoring framework. On climate change, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva announced plans to increase FAO’s support for countries to assess climate finance, through the Green Climate Fund and other sources, and to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in April 2017. On migration, Graziano da Silva said FAO will intensify its participation in the Global Migration Group that gathers together UN agencies; will draw attention to the relationship between distress migration, food security and rural development; and will explore migration issues in the celebration of the World Food Day 2017.

José Graziano da Silva also noted that FAO wants to adjust its management structure to better assist countries in ensuring that their agricultural sectors are responding to climate and development needs and objectives. To improve the quality of data to monitor and evaluate progress in this regard, the Council approved the creation of a new office of the Chief Statistician to ensure a standardized approach to data reporting across the organization. The Council also agreed with the proposal to appoint an additional Deputy Director-General position, charged with overseeing the Organization’s work related to technical cooperation, resource mobilization, partnerships and South-South cooperation. The approved and strengthened management structure is meant to bolster FAO’s ability to deliver technical and other assistance to countries.

On the sidelines of the meeting, FAO announced its support for a comprehensive rural reform strategy in Colombia that includes strengthening food security and peace and addressing issues of land access and restitution. The FAO support programme was announced during an event focusing on transitional justice and land rights in Colombia. It follows a joint request from the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP) for FAO’s support in implementing the first point of their recent peace agreement, which focuses on hunger, rural development and comprehensive rural reform.

Delivering closing remarks to the meeting, Graziano da Silva, noted that in January 2017, FAO will launch the ‘State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture,’ a report developed under the guidance of FAO’s Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. It will be the first global assessment of all biodiversity relevant to food and agriculture. He also highlighted that the Organization is taking an “active role” in the preparation of the High Level Political Forum 2017, which will review SDG 1 on no poverty, SDG 2 on zero hunger, SDG 5 on gender equality and SDG 14 on life below water.

Made of up 49 Member nations elected for staggered three-year terms, the FAO Council convenes between sessions of the main Conference to provide advice and oversight related to programmatic and budgetary matters. [FAO Press Release on the Opening of the Council] [FAO Press Release on the Closing of the Council] [Remarks of the FAO Director-General] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Colombia Land Reform]

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