France’s submission of Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle’s candidacy for the position of FAO director general (18 December 2018)


On December 17, France officially presented Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle’s candidacy for the position of FAO director general.

The first EU candidate to the FAO

The French candidate was designated on October 15 as the European Union candidate for FAO general director. This is the first time that EU member states are selecting a common candidate for election to the head of this agency. It is also the first time that a woman is a candidate for the position.

A candidacy to put the fight against hunger and malnutrition back at the top of political agendas

Since it was founded, the FAO has helped reduce food insecurity and malnutrition. However it must be noted that hunger is once again increasing in the world.

Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle is determined to give a new impetus to the FAO and its efforts to eradicate hunger by 2030, in line with the UN’s sustainable development goals. Reducing poverty, stepping up rural development and deeply transforming our food systems are all priorities for the French and European candidate. It is vital to bring all member countries and partners around to a shared, renewed vision in order to strengthen the FAO’s efforts to bring about a world free from hunger and malnutrition.

To that end, the candidate pledges to expand cooperation and synergies with other UN organizations, especially the IFAD, WFP and the WHO. She wishes to contribute fully to the implementation of UN reform, strengthening cooperation with scientific and technical bodies and all relevant actors.

Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle also wants the FAO to play a major role as the leading global organization in the areas of food security and nutrition, based on solid and recognized technical and scientific knowledge.

Strengthening food security, eradicating poverty, combating climate change: a type of agriculture that produces more, in a better way

Food security and contributions to the agricultural, fisheries and forestry sectors are vital not only to feed humankind but also to provide decent jobs in rural areas, strengthen the role of women and young people, eradicate poverty, and save the planet.

To achieve these goals, the candidate intends to strengthen investment in research and knowledge, education and training, innovation and infrastructure.
In a context marked by climate change and the existence of numerous conflicts, the candidate is committed to ensuring that the FAO plays a central role in solutions so that everyone, regardless of where he or she lives, has access to healthy, safe and sustainably produced food. This is the prerequisite for a peaceful, more stable and fairer world.

In-depth expertise in the areas of food and agriculture and recognized leadership

Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle, an agricultural engineer and former director general of the Ministry of Agriculture, is a recognized leader with a proven capacity to manage complex organizations operating in a multicultural environment. She also has a high level of professional experience in the areas of food systems, rural development and food security, in France as well as in Europe.

She has held the most senior positions in the French Ministry of Agriculture, serving successively as deputy director of the Department of International Trade (food aid and international assistance), director general, General Directorate for Food, and director general, General Directorate for Economic and Environmental Performance of Businesses.

At the European level, after having worked at the European Commission as an expert on consumer food safety issues, she served as executive director of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for more than seven years.

Throughout her career, Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle has dedicated her strong scientific and technical expertise in agriculture, fisheries, forestry, rural development, food systems and nutrition to the design and implementation of public agricultural and food policies at the national, European and international levels.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for issues relating to agriculture (including livestock farming, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture) and food. It is a universal intergovernmental organization with 197 members, including the EU. The FAO is active in more than 130 countries around the world. The next director general of the FAO will be elected by member states in June 2019 for a four-year term. Nominations for the office of director-general are being accepted from December 1, 2018, to February 28, 2019.

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