In April 2020, with much of the world facing severe restrictions on movement, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) had its first-ever global town hall meeting. The event brought employees worldwide together virtually with the Director-General for direct exchange and dialogue.
The organization recently held its third town hall meeting, leading Director-General QU Dongyu to suggest the unprecedented initiative he launched last year is now a “new normal”.
“It’s a way to build solidarity and get to know each other,” he said to a virtual audience of thousands of FAO employees who had logged in from homes and FAO offices in more than 130 countries.
The COVID-19 pandemic made innovation an urgent requirement for work pursuing FAO’s mandate, and accelerated the consolidation of the new digital FAO, Qu said. Through their everyday action, employees led the evolution and consolidation of new practices at the Organization, he said. The town hall is a form of “crowd power”, he added.
Noting that FAO employees have been on the frontlines of major crises, from the desert locust upsurge to hurricanes, from conflict to floods, the Director-General applauded staff for their “extraordinary commitment to serving the most vulnerable.”
FAO entered 2021 with “ambition and energy” and scored an important success by winning the support of Members at the recent Council meeting for the new 10-year Strategic Framework, a document that was put together in an unprecedented massive effort involving hundreds of employees and an extensive and transparent consultation process with Members.
“Building consensus between Members and staff – that’s how we achieve ownership,” Qu said.