During the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture 2019, 74 Agriculture Ministers and high level representatives from international organizations called the FAO, in consultation with stakeholders including the World Bank, the African Development Bank, IFAD, OECD, WTO, ITU, OIE and the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) to draft a concept for considering the establishment of an international Digital Council for Food and Agriculture (refer as Digital Council) that will:
In this side event, the Concept Note for establishing an International Digital Council for Food and Agriculture was presented, discussed and validated. It has been developed by the FAO and the stakeholders mentioned above and is based on the GFFA 2019 Final Communiqué.
The specific areas and functions of the Council were presented that were developed through an open and inclusive consultation with multi-stakeholders and organisations.The following questions were discussed and a roadmap for the establishment of a fully operational Digital Council was proposed: What should be the role and task of the Council? Which legal form will the Council take? How will it be governed? What working approach will it take? What impact will it have? These questions were discussed and a roadmap for the establishment of a fully operational Digital Council proposed.
Qu Dongyu, who took office on 1 August 2019 as Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, has spent his life working on how to make sure the world is fed.
Born in 1963 to a rice-growing family in China’s Hunan Province, Qu studied horticultural science at Hunan Agricultural University and then plant breeding and genetics at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. He later added environmental science to his knowledge portfolio while earning a PhD at Wageningen University, in the Netherlands.
He then progressed through a range of national and international activities, engaged simultaneously in science and management, all during a time when China’s reform and opening-up process led the country to dramatically reduce poverty and hunger in a country with 20 percent of the global population, 9 percent of the world’s cultivated land, and where over 90 percent of the rural population is engaged in small holder farm operations working less than 3 hectares.
His vision is founded on the belief that freedom from hunger is a basic human right, and that in the 21st century we have the capability to eradicate chronic food insecurity. While challenges loom, Qu’s cardinal principle is that “problems can also be the source of progress”.
Before coming to FAO, Qu served as China’s Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, where one of his achievements was to promote inclusive and innovative development and make sure information and communication technologies (ICT) were available in rural areas so that more than 400 million farmers could use their smartphones as a new farming tool.
That vision has been consistent across a professional career that includes periods in central and local government, in and leading research institutes, and as a human resources leader at the China Three Gorges Project Development Corporation, a $40 billion investment project.
Among his national initiatives has been to improve reporting of wholesale prices for agricultural products in China and foster the establishment of more than 100 specialty production areas geared to making local comparative advantages work to the benefit of local farmers. As Vice Governor of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, one of China’s landlocked and poorest areas, Qu formulated action plans aimed at poverty reduction, disaster reduction and prevention, women empowerment, agritourism and mutual learning platforms designed to boost trust between ethnic groups.
Qu says he represents the combination of an “Asian soul” and a “global mind”. Recognized for scientific innovation as a young scholar, Qu has for 30 years been involved in international exchanges and orchestrated major events including the World Potato Congress, the International Rice Congress and the International Conference on Plant Protection, and participated in multilateral initiatives such as the World Trade Organization and the G20 as well as numerous bilateral initiatives involving Asia, Africa and Latin America. He has also directly helped design flagship South-South Cooperation projects with FAO and the World Bank.
His motto is “Simple life, but not simple work”.
He is married, and has one daughter.
Engel Hessel is Commissioner for Digitalisation of the federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture and Professor for Digital Agriculture at the Technical University of Braunschweig. She studied Agriculture at the Kiel University and worked at the Universities of Kiel and Göttingen. In 2017, she became Director of the Thünen Institute of Agricultural Technology
Mr. Maximo Torero is chief economist and assistant director general for the Economic and Social Development Department at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Prior to joining FAO, he was the World Bank Group Executive Director for Argentina, Bolivia, Chile Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay since November 2016. Before that, Dr Torero led the Division of the Markets, Trade, and Institutions at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). His major research work lies mostly in analyzing poverty, inequality, importance of geography and assets (private or public) in explaining poverty, and in policies oriented towards poverty alleviation based on the role played by infrastructure, institutions, and on how technological breakthroughs (or discontinuities) can improve the welfare of households and small farmers. His experience encompasses Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia. Dr Torero, holds a Ph.D. and a Master’s Degree in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of the Pacific, Lima, Peru. He is a professor on leave at the University of the Pacific (Perú) and an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at University of Bonn, Germany and has also published in top journals (QJE, Econometric Theory, AER-Applied Microeconomics, RSTAT, Labor Economics and many other top journals).
Doreen Bogdan-Martin was elected Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau in November 2018 and took office on 1 January 2019. She is a strategic leader with 30 years of high-level experience in international and inter-governmental relations. She has a long history of success in policy and strategy development, analysis and execution. From 2008-2018, she led the Strategic Planning & Membership Department of ITU, and also served as Coordinator of United Nations affairs. She was one of the architects of the annual Global Symposium for Regulators and leads ITU’s contribution to the EQUALS Global Partnership for Gender Equality in the Digital Age. She serves as Executive Director of the UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, and is leading ITU’s collaboration with UNICEF and others on the GIGA project to connect the world’s schools. She holds a Master’s degree in International Communications Policy from the American University in Washington, DC and a post-graduate certificate in Strategies for Leadership from the Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland. She is an affiliate of the Harvard University Berkman-Klein Center for Internet and Society, and a Generation Unlimited Champion. She serves on a number of advisory bodies, including the Geneva-Tsinghua Initiative.
Michael Hailu is the Director of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) a position he has held since 2010. He has more than 30 years of experience in agricultural research, communications and development in Africa and other parts of the world. Prior to joining CTA, he held senior leadership positions at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Nairobi, Kenya and at the Center for International Forestry Research in Indonesia. Mr Hailu has led a major strategic realignment of the CTA refocusing the Centre’s work on promoting innovations and building capacities to advance youth and women entrepreneurship, digitalisation and climate resilience in agriculture. He has degrees from the Universities of Pittsburgh, USA and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and has been trained in strategic leadership at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business in the United States.
Prior to becoming OECD Director of Trade and Agriculture in 2008, Mr. Ash had served as Deputy Director since 1999. Mr. Ash leads OECD efforts to develop and communicate evidence-based advice to governments, with the aim at helping them improve the domestic and international performance of their policies in the areas of trade, food, agriculture and fisheries.
Upon joining the OECD Mr. Ash brought with him 20 years of extensive experience from the Government of Canada where he held several senior positions in Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. As Director General, Economic and Policy Analysis, from 1995-1999, he provided strategic policy guidance on key agriculture and trade policy issues and on government-wide policy and institutional reforms.
Mr. Ash, a Canadian national, holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree and an MBA (International Business and Resource Management).