09 February 2011

The candidates for the next FAO Director General: what are they thinking?

FAO reports that "Six candidates have been presented by FAO Member Nations for the post of FAO Director-General to be elected in June 2011.

The election of a new Director-General will take place in a secret ballot to be held at the beginning of the 37th FAO Conference (Rome, 25 June to 2 July 2011) by the organization's 191 member nations. The deadline for nominations was yesterday, 31 January.

The six candidates, each nominated by his government, are listed in alphabetical order by country: Franz Fischler (Austria), José Graziano da Silva (Brazil), Indroyono Soesilo (Indonesia), Mohammad Saeid Noori Naeini (Iran, Islamic Republic of), Abdul Latif Rashid (Iraq) and Miguel Ángel Moratinos Cuyaubé (Spain)."

I have trawled the internet (well, looked moderately hard) to find links to the candidates bios/cvs/profiles and some pictures -- see below.

Given that we all have a stake in who gets this position, it's not much to go on, is it?

I am going to write to each of the candidates and invite them to answer the same set of questions for publication on this blog. They probably will not agree, but we can try.

Please send me some ideas for questions to pose to the "FAO 6".

Many thanks.
******************************************************************************
Austria: Franz Fischler
Brazil: José Graziano da Silva Indonesia: Indroyono Soesilo
Iran (Islamic Republic of): Mohammad Saeid Noori Naeini
Iraq: Abdul Latif Rashid (on left of picture)
Spain: Miguel Ángel Moratinos Cuyaubé

34 comments:

david rieff said...

Lawrence, one obvious question is where each candidate stands on the question of food sovereignty.

Jules Pretty said...

My question: why isn't anyone else doing this? Surely the UN should be leading on showing who all the candidates are, showcasing their plans and visions and so on.

Questions to them - what will you do that makes stepwise changes to hunger? How will you implement sustainable intensification? How will you steer world agriculture through the stormy times to come?

Lawrence said...

Actually Jules, this was James Muir's idea...I just stole it and acted on it, with his encouragment!

Lawrence said...

one of my regular correspondents has just emailed me and said that it does not matter who heads up FAO or what they think because FAO is no longer relevant....waht do you hink?

Calestous Juma said...

UN Food and Agriculture Organization will pick a new boss shortly. I would vote for José Graziano da Silva of Brazil http://bit.ly/h8hwdY

Calestous Juma

catherine bertini said...

*What is their vision for the future of FAO?

*What steps will they take to have it become more seriously appreciated/ used by others (note ag fund went to world bank, davos ag announcement FAO was nowhere to be seen)

*Gender. In programming and in staff

*Management reform: how will they go about it

*Flexibility and delegation to staff in hq and field. Important to them? How will they do it?

*Transparency. What immediate measures will they put in place to show they are different than the past.

*Hiring. Will they use competence based competition for hiring? Will they delegate to managers and hold them accountable.

*Personal style. Will they keep the dg office in same place? Keep private elevator? Fly first class? Live in a pricey place paid by FAO? Open the private dining rooms? Eat in the cafeteria?

Peter said...

We have for so long tried to make the connection between nutrition and agriculture work, with only mixed success, partly because the motivations and incentives often are not lined up; we need to continue to forge these links. Now we are faced with the need to not only feed the existing population but also to increase production in the near and medium term to feed new mouths as populations continue to grow. As we do this we also need to decarbonize the economies of high income countries to provide space for low income economies to improve the living standards of their populations. At the same time, climate change means that we no longer have the luxury of merely expanding agricultural area to increase food production, in some areas food production may even decrease. So my questions to the candidates are:

As a global community how should we respond to the need to increase food production and improve nutritional status while, at the same time, contributing to the mitigation of climate change (reduce carbon emissions, increase carbon sequestration, maintain integrity of the environment)? What is the role of FAO in this effort? To fulfill this new role, what should FAO do differently to what it has done in the recent past? What new activities should FAO become involved with? What activities should FAO drop?

Doug said...

FAO has become an ossified ineffective bureaucracy (albeit employing some good professionals) at a time when we need global leadership and innovative thinking. All the candidates are senior MALES from similar bureaucracies, so already I am pessimistic about FAO's future relevance. Nevertheless, ask them what major organizational and cultural changes they will implement at FAO, and what will be the benchmarks for achieving success by the end of their term?

Tony Simons said...

Notwithstanding the comments about credibility of candidature let us return to the task of getting the best of what is on offer. My question would be:
"How will FAO address the sometimes divergent needs of food security at household, village, nation, region and global levels. This will be important with increasing urbanisation and population growth. Likely the marginalised individuals and countries will be disproportionately affected at a time when climates is changing."

Geoffrey Cannon said...

Geoffrey Cannon said... I would also go for Jose Graziano. He is quite abrasive but is in the tradition of Brazilian pro-people politics. No interest in living like an emperor. Very respected in Latin America - and of course Fome Zero is perceived as a big success, because of its focus on social, economic and environmental determinants, and on sustainable livelihoods. By the way, the first two pictures in the line-up are the wrong way round.

John Weatherson said...

Lawrence, I can write pages on it!! Im sub-regional agronomist short term consultant at FAO serving in Addis and see first hand how FAO works; some good and some which needs serious attention. We all try day by day to make it better from within. Teamwork is, and always should be, the order of the day with those of us who are passionate about FAO performing to the highest standards and actually making a difference..I have travelled somewhat assisting with several projects around the world, (Sudan;Darfur,Pakistan,alot in Africa )mostly in a training and advisory capacity.Spent time at FAO HQ in Rome.Great office and nice people,but needs team work in a big way. I was a farmer/business man for most of my life before joining FAO 6 years ago at the age of 53 so tend to see all sides of the story. FAO 's manadate is to ensure humanities freedom from hunger,so the sooner we reduce our reforming and tackle the job at hand the better it will be. FAO is very,very relevant,it just needs the correct very pro-active "people orientated" leader who will create a team of top expertise throughout the organization,especially at Rome HQ, regional and sub-regioanl offices. Graziano from Brazil I know and he is of good calibre,and has the backing of Mr Charisma himself and a great achiever,Lula,but strong contenders will be be Austria and Spain. The others I dont know.You are right,we need alot of media coverage to open up the race as humanity has a strong and deeply vested interest in the man who will feed the world. !( and theres the title for the media story!!) Its strange that most of those who desperately need help (the hungry and the small impoverished farmers)dont even know about this election taking place at FAO,or even about FAO! A great burden and much responsibility comes with being DG of FAO if the mandate is truly,truly embraced by the encumbant and his staff,together with world leaders,who should "warm to him" and network with him immediately.What FAO (nor the world) does not need is an aloof beurocat who breeds and perpetuates a highly beurocratic and very cumbersom system. The new DG must be open minded,friendly,active,totally efficient, and take advice from a wide range of people,and be a team man through and through. Coffee with the team should be a regular feature.Charisma will ofcourse help as world leaders are not really tuned in to the food crisis at very close hand,and need to be persuaded to take immediate action to support ALL farmers in a big,big way. FAO is also somewhat of a divided house with a regular part and an emergency operations division, and this needs to be tackled once and for all and the berlin wall dividing the two torn down.Unification and team work and a new dynamic image will help tremendously,especially with the donors!!I know that there are many really top class staff at FAO who can contribute so much to solving the food related problems of the world,and they just cry out for the new DG to be a man who will help them all pull together. FAO will also gain much by working very closely with the other UN agencies and especially with CGIAR,who have tremendous resources worldwide.We have to be positive in all this.The future of FAO MUST be bright as it is needed now with some urgency to truly fulfill,its mandate more than ever before.Peter asks; "What is the role of FAO in this effort? To fulfill this new role, what should FAO do differently to what it has done in the recent past? What new activities should FAO become involved with? What activities should FAO drop? and they are all good and relevant questions which can be tackled by a TEAM includng the employees of FAO PLUS relevant stakeholders PLUS other UN agencies PLUS the Permanant represnetatives of FAO (191 I think) who represent the governemnts who MAKE UP FAO. FAO belongs to many contries who are meant to play a very PROACTIVE role in guiding the work of FAO and not sit back and expect FAO to work miracles!!!Its time to pull together!!

Carol said...

Agriculture in the 21st century isn't what it was in the 20th. At the national large-scale level, we see foreign investment in land and agriculture production by governments and the private sector in Sub-Saharan Africa to support the production of raw materials for industry, as well as to supply foreign and domestic urban markets. We also see some investment by governments and donors in crop production in response to increased world prices for commodities that may earn foreign exchange for government, while meeting global market needs (rice), but not the consumption needs of low-income rural populations. While agriculture has always been in the domain of the private sector, how will FAO engage with national governments, foreign nationals and corporations that are likely to radically change the landscape of agriculture production in low resource settings. Are they prepared for these issues and potential consequences for small holder agriculture in the decade to come?

John Weatherson said...

As regards some serious questions; one could be "What will you do to create team spirit in FAO amoungst its employees world wide,and to promote a consensus based and consultative style of management, and would you see this as a measure which will enhance performance greatly"

Another may possibly be " Will you develop well designed and transparent selection criteria for the appointmnet of FAO Country Representatives world wide,particularly during this time of food crisis,to ensure that FAO has the very best calibre of
proffessionals leading the organization at national levels ?

A third may be " How will you harmonize FAO internally, in Rome,at Regional and sub-regional levels,and at country levels throughout the world and create cohesion between the Emergency Services Division and other parts of FAO,as do you not think divided FAO may stumble or even fall,but united it may stand and perform much,much better?"

A fourth may be "Will you portray yourself as a servant of the people;in the DG's position to serve humanity through the member nations and find solutions to food related problems facing the people of the earth? if not,how will you portray yourself?



I will post more tomorrow and hope others do the same so you can select the best.

lawrence said...

Great comments..keep them coming! Once we get to 50, I will write a short open letter and attach all the comments and invite a public response

Tim said...

I would be very interested in the perspective of the candidates on the role of FAO in strengthening the capacity of governments, organizations and communities to address livelihood and food security needs of vulnerable households relative to other UN agencies. What agency should have the lead on this? Is there a mechanism within the UN system to coordinate this work?

John Weatherson said...

Tim,quick one; livelihood and food security needs of vulnerable households are squarley within the mandate of FAO but ALWAYS in full collaboration with sister UN agencies (especially WFP) so as to bulk up all our comparative advantages.WFP have been very very active here and there is an urgent need for a meaningful close working relationship from the TOP down and at ALL levels between FAO and WFP.(Its all about FOOD)and we dont need duplications! We dont work together eneogh.There are signed MOU's between FAO/WFP/IFAD/AGRA?UNHCR etc and it is VERY important that we (the NEW DG!!) make(s) them work. To give capacity to governemnts and other national organizations is, an should remain, a major focus area of all UN agencies.However,you can only build capacity in governemnts (people) who are both eager,willing and capably of recieving it and the differenet styles of "democracy" I have obseved on my travels do not necessarilly always bring quality people to the table where we all meet in the humanitarian world.This always works with the Un where there is guraentee of quality people at the interface.Much depends on the quality and devosion of personalities of the day on both sides.In the short term the best we can hope for is workable partnerships (partnerships for progress) involving all stakeholders at national levels.Communities are highly receptive to cooperation in the field,but the UN should not "by pass" governemnt and work only with communities through NGO's or it leads to confusion and bad feelings between UN and host governemnts,which is not desirable.

John Weatherson said...

CORRECTION
This always works with the Un where there is guraentee of quality people at the interface.

The above paragraph in my last submission should read as follows;

This ALSO works with the UN where there is guraentee of quality people at the interface. John

ann matthews said...

I lost my daughter Alison in ' 08 due to primary progressive multiple sclerosis. There is no treatment of cure. I find it impossible to sympathise with your views Mr Haddad. There may be poor people in the world but they are alive, my daughter is not. Perhaps it's time you turned your skills to domestic urgencies. For the last 4 years of her life, she was unable to eat, drink, speak, move or see very well. She lived in a straight jacket with a brain. Now try and solve that disaster!

John Weatherson said...

Lawrence,seems we are short on good questions for the prospective DG's of FAO and I hope more come in but another one would be " what moves will he make to ensure new dynamic blood is attracted to FAO,as a change in DG will not solve all the challenges of FAO.A football team that wants to get to the top of the premier league not only needs to change the manager,but needs to buy some good strikers!!Maybe a case for some good people from the corporate world who have had recorded success and who value the contribution of staff in the success of a business.Would be nice to know if they and we are "on the same page" on this issue.

lawrence said...

Dear ann, I am really sorry for the pain you are suffering for the loss of your daugter. I lost my best friend last year to bone cancer - he was a tireless fighter against hunger in India. I know there are people in the MS community doing much the same things as we are doing here on hunger. We are all fighting against the unnecessary loss of life and dignity.

lawrence said...

John, I am hoping the Guardian will post an article on this today in its Poverty Matters blog. Pehaps that will generate a few more responses..

james muir (university of stirling) said...

Great to see responses, hope it'll turn into an opportunity for change.

A number seem to touch on important issues for FAO - making real progress on gender,linking with nutrition, transparency, internal debate, dealing with the emergency aid/regular programme division, real partnership working, understanding and applying soft power. Injection of a mix of people from other backgrounds could be stimulating.

Other questions/areas of discussion might be:

* personal vision for FAO and what they would do to achieve it;
* how to raise food and agriculture on the global development agenda (and place it in the most appropriate contexts); * and how to connect effectively with climate change challenges, and those for human rights.
* how to be less ponderous, more responsive and bolder in striking out for social/moral imperatives
* how to strengthen the quality and impact of FAO's work on data, information, standards, and on effective international accords, guidelines and advisory materials.
* how to build professionalisaton of junior and mid-level staff

It might also be interesting to lob in a question about merging the three Rome-based agencies...

James M said...

A recent story going round was that FAO senior management were waiting for a ‘clear and solid’ case to be made before taking gender issues in agriculture and nutrition seriously. This was the source of considerable frustration and dismay amongst many staff... Arguably FAO has a substantial scientific and technical remit in which some areas are relatively gender-neutral, and in the real world it has to deal and make progress with the institutions (and attitudes and behaviour) it encounters externally, but if it has any expectations of leadership and impact this perspective looks very troubling. What would the new DG do to address this very basic dysfunction and to shift the organisational culture underlying it?

lawrence said...

for a clear and solid case on gender, just see the Peterman, Behrman and Quisumbing 2010 IFPRI Discussion paper 975.

can this story really be true? in 1951, perhaps, but 2011?

James M said...

one would think... but this would seem to be much of the concern - such ability to resist change is a thing of wonder... but surely not to be continued?

Kat said...

My question: Why is there not a single female candidate?

M.Saeed Noori Naeini said...

From Mohamad Saeed Noori Naeini
I am among the six candidates for Director-General of FAO, and you can find my response on the Guardian posting in the comments. I very much share your concern for the hungry and poor, the crises facing our planet and the weakest members of our society, such as climate change and extreme inequality. The Guardian posting has helped to place FAO and its important election a little closer to the public attention it warrants. However, it also shows a lack of understanding of the role of FAO and its Director-General. See my response.

M Saeed Noori Naeini said...

From Mohamad Saeed Noori Naeini
I am among the six candidates for Director-General of FAO, and I very much share your concern for the hungry and poor, the crises facing our planet and the weakest members of our society, such as climate change and extreme inequality. The Guardian posting has helped to place FAO and its important election a little closer to the public attention it warrants. However, it also shows a lack of understanding of the role of FAO and its Director-General and you can find my repose to this among the direct comments on the Guardian posting.

Divirian said...

MK Muthoo wrote an excellent pamphlet based on his firsthand experience on the politics of selecting FAO DGs, with a title along the lines of, "Ending Hunger: How We Select the Leader of FAO". Strongly recommend it.

Also worth remembering that FAO has some very skilled, hard-working people.....

Lawrence Haddad said...

divirian, completely agree--lots of talented and committed folks at FAO (some are good friends)--just shows how important leadership is..many thanks for the tip about the book, which I will look for.

Lawrence Haddad said...

divirian

I can't find your book...can you give us a more complete reference? thanks

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