FAO – News Article: Director-General praises young employees as “catalysts for change” as FAO Youth Committee celebrates first anniversary


18 November 2020, Rome – The Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), QU Dongyu, today described the UN agency’s young employees as “catalysts for change” who have the potential to build a more dynamic organization and transform agri-food systems, as he congratulated the FAO Youth Committee for its achievements on its first anniversary.

“Young people are our future. To ensure they have a bright future, organizations have to care for their young employees,” Qu noted.  

“Around 40 percent of FAO’s workforce is under the age of 40. They represent the future of FAO and are key to driving innovative and modern processes at FAO and in global agriculture,” he added.

Since the Director-General launched the Youth Committee in September 2019, it has been successfully tapping into the potential of young employees and finding new and innovative ways of connecting young and youthful colleagues inside FAO. 

There was a festive atmosphere at today’s event which featured musical performances by FAO colleagues: Damien Bertrand, played “Variations on a theme by Rossini” by Frederic Chopin on the flute, and Sumet Muthikul performed his rendition of the U2 hit, ‘One’.

The ceremony then took stock of the various activities and events organized by the Youth Committee in its first year: events such as Innovation Wednesdays, Random Virtual Coffees, InnoVenture Labs, which feature guest speakers, and Virtual Cooking Classes.

All these activities have been used to extend networking – internal and external to FAO – and inspire experimental innovation and friendship, while increasing the efficiency, effectiveness, and impact of FAO’s actions.

The Committee has also developed a Welcome Package for new employees and developed a Mentoring programme in collaboration with FAO’s Women’s Committee and in consultation with FAO’s Human Resources Division.

At the anniversary event, the Director-General stressed that in order to prevent people from feeling isolated in their work environment, he has been striving to create a family atmosphere at FAO since his election last year. Focusing on the potential of FAO’s younger employees, he urged them not to complain, but to do things differently and seek innovative solutions when faced with challenges.

FAO’s Chief Economist, Máximo Torero, who chairs the committee, congratulated members for their achievements and invited them to “think outside the box” and to seek more input and innovation from FAO’s regional, subregional and country offices.

The Director-General also emphasized the need to build solidarity while indicating there was also enormous potential to work with the employees of other UN agencies, who are based in Italy.

‘’While many achievements have been made by the Youth Committee since its establishment, I would like to stress that this adventure is not over. On the contrary, it is just getting started,” he noted.

The Director-General announced the first-ever FAO Youth World Food Forum to be held next year, to coincide with the UN World Food Systems Summit , as an opportunity to harness young people’s passion for innovation to spark a global movement to transform agri-food systems.

The recording of the anniversary celebration event can be viewed here

The anniversary video can be viewed here.

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