17 December 2020, Rome – Two hundred individuals and ten teams from across all streams and offices of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) were recognized today for “remarkable performance under extraordinary circumstances in an exceptional year” at the FAO Employee Recognition Awards event – held this year online.
The annual initiative, launched by FAO Director-General QU Dongyu last year, recognized employees -100 young and 100 “young at heart” and seasoned – for achievements this year in the following areas: innovation; knowledge-sharing; operational effectiveness and efficiency; teamwork and collaboration; as well as diversity and inclusiveness.
These areas are in line with the Organization’s priorities and contribute to FAO’s four betters: better production; better nutrition; a better environment; and a better life.
Behind every success at FAO, there is a team, and this year’s Employee Recognition Awards also recognized ten cross-cutting teams for exceptional performance, commitment and collaboration in 2020.
Opening the event, the FAO Director-General said 2020 was a year in which the organization showed tenacity in the face of COVID-19; reaped many visible and tangible results thanks to efficiency; entered a new era of Digital FAO; and was marked by transformation, development and solidarity. Qu also noted that 2020 was “a year of big family with new dynamics and big empathy”.
“Our employees are our greatest asset and new gold mine…We are here to celebrate all of you today. You keep this organization vibrant, efficient and dynamic. As individuals and as teams,” he added.
“Together, we are building an FAO that is modern and transparent, accountable and deliverable, with a people-centred, people driven approach to our work and success,” the Director-General stated.
Who are the awardees?
The 200 awardees – selected through an FAO-wide poll out of 600 nominations – represent more than 90 nationalities and come from offices based in over 80 countries – about one third from Headquarters and two-thirds from FAO offices worldwide. Forty-two (42) percent are men and fifty-eight (58) percent are women. All categories and types of contract were represented.
The ten teams and some of their key achievements for which they were recognized are:
The Digital FAO team for achievements ranging from making FAO the first champion in the United Nations (UN) to hold global and regional meetings, including all governing body sessions, virtually in all six UN languages to ensuring that the agency was 100 percent operational in virtual mode.
The extended Crisis Management Team (CMT) for excellent crisis management this year, including ensuring timely actions and decisions, and keeping employees safe and updated amidst the pandemic.
The Hand-in-Hand (HiH) Initiative Team for rolling out the Initiative in 34 countries and its outstanding support to all member countries via the HiH Geospatial Platform and Data Lab.
The Locust Control Team at FAO Headquarters and in Africa/Near East and North Africa for mobilizing the rapid roll-out of a massive multi-country desert locust response to help communities battling with the worst locust upsurge in a generation.
The Agri-environment and Food System Team for the impressive scale of resources mobilized ($800 million in three years), engagement with the Green Climate Fund (GCF) secretariat, and developing complex project proposals.
The Economic and Social Development-Flagships and G20 Team for outstanding and impactful flagship publications: The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020 (SOFI 2020); The State of Food and Agriculture 2020 (SOFA 2020); The State of Agricultural Commodity Markets 2020 (SOCO 2020) and technical support to the G20 summits and meetings.
The One Health Team for active and rapid response to COVID-19, and tireless efforts to assess and address the human-animal interface of the virus, engaging with partners (WHO, OIE) to ensure that countries’ responses were based on best available evidence.
The COVID-19 Response and Recovery Team for identifying seven priority areas for a global COVID-19 response and creating FAO’s overall COVID-19 Response and Recovery Programme. In six months, $200 million have been mobilized to respond to COVID-19 emergency and recovery needs on the ground.
The Private Sector Strategy formulation Team for its work across the organization, with Member Countries and the private sector, resulting in the successful adoption of the FAO Strategy by its governing Council.
The Country teams in Level 3 crisis contexts for delivering humanitarian, livelihood- and life-saving assistance, despite this year’s challenges, to millions of the most vulnerable people in some of the most challenging parts of the world, and their work to avert disaster, facilitate rapid food production, and build resilience to pull people back from the brink of high levels of acute food insecurity.
“Together we can accomplish the thinkable and the unthinkable!” said the Director-General.
“Your integrity, agility and diligence are reshaping this Organization, making it deliver better and with more impact,” stressed Qu.
He also encouraged employees to be inspired by one another and open to new ideas; to seek truth from facts; and to let solidarity and inclusiveness be their guides.
In closing, the FAO chief presented the awardees with two beautiful recognitions that he had handwritten himself in Chinese calligraphy – one for the teams and one for the individual awardees – conveying his heartfelt congratulations. Qu invited the awardees to sign their names, print and make these their own on paper, wood or metals.
The FAO core leadership team also conveyed their thanks to colleagues in messages delivered in their respective national languages – Arabic, English, French, Portuguese and Spanish.
The event featured a wide range of performances from singing, dancing to poetry reading – from FAO employees around the world who put their talents to work in recognition of the awardees.
The event was moderated live by FAO employees from Rome, Bangkok, Budapest, Cairo, Juba, Montreal, and Santiago. Some 1,500 people from around the world joined the zoom event with many also following the webcast.