A former Brazilian food security minister will become the first person from Latin America to head the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations agency leading international efforts in the fight against hunger.
José Graziano da Silva, who has served as a senior regional official for FAO since 2006, will take up the post of Director-General on 1 January next year after beating five other candidates during voting today at the agency's headquarters in Rome.
Mr. Graziano da Silva, received 92 votes from 180 votes cast by FAO Member States during the second round of balloting, narrowly defeating Miguel Ángel Moratinos Cuyaube, a former foreign minister of Spain.
Four other candidates – Franz Fischler (Austria), Indroyono Soesilo (Indonesia), Mohammad Saeid Noori Naeini (Iran) and Abdul Latif Rashid (Iraq) – all withdrew from the contest after receiving fewer votes during the first round of balloting earlier today.
Mr. Graziano da Silva, 61, will be only the eighth person to lead an agency that was established in 1945 and he will be the first person from his region.
In a speech yesterday in which he outlined his proposed programme as FAO chief, Mr. Graziano da Silva pledged to work towards five main goals: eradicating hunger, promoting a shift to sustainable food production, ensuring greater fairness in global food management; swiftly implementing agreed internal FAO reforms, and expanding South-South cooperation.
“My track record shows that I can bring to the Organization the leadership that it needs,” he said. “I have spent my whole working life dealing with issues related to agriculture, food security and sustainable development that are central to FAO's mandate.
“Not only have I taught and written about them, but as [the] first minister of food security in Brazil, I have led the design and implementation of the Zero Hunger programme that has enabled millions of people to escape from hunger.”
He said the recent economic and food crises should serve as a wake-up call for countries that they must work together to ensure that everyone has access to food.
Mr. Graziano da Silva's term will expire on 31 July 2015, but he will be eligible to run for a second, four-year term. He succeeds Jacques Diouf, who has served as FAO Director-General since 1994.