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By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor in Paris
For the first time in 40 years, France and the European Union are putting up a female candidate for the position of Director General of the the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
An agronomist by trade, Madame Catherine Geslain-Laneelle wants to reduce hunger, food security & malnutrition, if she is elected in June this year. She will be up against candidates from Japan, China and India for the top UN post.
“One of my priorities is to reaffirm the importance of the agricultural, fisheries and forestry sectors, not only to feed all human beings but also to eradicate poverty and preserve the planet, Grelain-Laneelle told visiting journalists from the Pacific in Paris this week.
“I recognise that it’s not business as usual and we need to step up our efforts. 30 percent of all the total food production is lost to waste and we should work towards reducing this and ensure that people around the globe are given enough to live and hunger is eradicated.
She is particularly keen to increase food productivity and economic development in the rural area - especially in the Pacific.
“I’d like to see more economic activities in agriculture & fisheries in the Pacific targeting young people, offering them jobs and economic stability, Madame Geslain-Laneelle told journalists.
At the same time, she wants to increase Pacific presence at the FAO in Rome and increase the visibility of its Apia office in the Pacific.
“I want more people from the Pacific to be represented in Rome, to bring their knowledge and expertise about climate change. I want to better engage Pacific people in the core work of the FAO.
“I am planning a visit to the Pacific next month to discuss my vision for the job with Pacific governments, said Geslain-Laneelle.
Over the last 18 years, she has been at the helm of large organisations in France and Europe leading more than 4,500 staff, working in agriculture, food, forestry and rural development. She is known for her ability to implement change and has transformed the organisations she’s led.
The last European head of FAO was Dutchman Addeke Hendrik Boerma in 1968-1975. The mandate of the current DG, Graziano da Silva of Brazil will expire in August. The election in June will bring together all 194member states. Sixteen (16) of those countries are from the Pacific region, which includes Australia and New Zealand.
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