Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, headed the UAE delegation to the 161st Session of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Council that is currently underway at FAO’s headquarters in Rome.
During the session, which runs from April 8 to 12, the candidates for the position of FAO Director-General for the period from August 1, 2019, to July 31, 2023 – from India, Georgia, China and France – presented their electoral programmes as well as their plans to develop the organisation and achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They answered questions from the attending delegates regarding the most pressing challenges of the future and ways of overcoming them.
On the sidelines of the session, Dr Al Zeyoudi met with José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of FAO, to discuss new opportunities for collaboration, the latest updates on existing projects and future plans pertaining to food safety – an important aspect of the UAE’s food security strategy. They also addressed the application of new technologies to achieve the UAE’s objective to ensure the sustainability of the environment, agriculture, as well as animal stock and water, in addition to supporting agricultural initiatives that support self-sufficiency. Topics included leveraging remote sensing technologies and aerial surveys of agricultural areas using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to increase food diversity.
The UAE Minister and the Director-General of FAO agreed on the important role of the FAO Subregional Office for the GCC States and Yemen in Abu Dhabi, the need for cooperation in implementing best practices in environmental management, and the optimal utilization of natural resources to advance the development of a green economy.
Dr Al Zeyoudi also explored collaboration opportunities with Luca Sabbatucci, Director General of Global Affairs at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Furthermore, he met with Didier Guillaume, French Minister of Agriculture and Food, to discuss matters pertaining to the future of FAO and the electoral campaign of the French candidate for the post of Director-General of the organization, agriculture and food expert Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle.
In another meeting, Dr Al Zeyoudi addressed topics of mutual interest and bilateral cooperation to eradicate hunger and promote sustainable agriculture with Dr Mohammed Alghamdi, Permanent Representative of Saudi Arabia to FAO.
The agenda of the 161st Session of the FAO Council included several sideline events that focused on food and agricultural biodiversity as well as antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the light of the One Health initiative.
The UAE delegation also included Ahmed Almulla, Deputy Head of Mission at the UAE Embassy in Rome.