Closing Remarks of Executive Director on the Occasion of the Annual Session of the Executive Board

Delivered on: 06 June 2014


Thank you, Madam President.


Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen.


In my opening remarks, I took the opportunity to report to you on four key issues.  First, our continuing transformation.  Second, operational issues of concern.  Third, major policy and process changes.  And fourth, the requirement for a paradigm shift, progressing food and nutrition by ending the humanitarian-relief divide.


I want to now thank you, the Board Members, our President, and every single participant—both behind the scenes, and here around this table—I think you will agree, we have had a truly engaging, constructive and timely Board session.  I asked you to ask us the hard questions… and you did.  Thank you. 


But you also did so much more than simply ask hard questions.  You gave us advice, counsel and recommendations… which we now hold dear.  I appreciate that when we don’t answer your questions you call us on it.  We will always do our best to answer every question and to address all your concerns.   


Because, together we demonstrate our determination and the real grit we all need, every one of us in this WFP family: the country teams; the regional teams; the Rome team; and the Board.   Because we must be determined to achieve Fit for Purpose if WFP is to truly serve as a leader in our shared goal of achieving Zero Hunger.


On behalf of the WFP leadership, and of the entire WFP team here in Rome, and across the globe, we heard, we listened and we will act. 


Allow me to highlight major points.  


On our Fit for Purpose transformation, we must remember it is a journey, not a destination. 


A team of ten can realize change in a matter of weeks… yet we are a team of more than 10,000, working in hundreds of different contexts.  Our journey of change is more than simply implementing a set of steps or making operational changes.  It is about changing mindsets and work practices and in some cases, changing our culture—not for any one single transformation, but for generating an adaptable WFP, which musters the will to change, to be a better partner, to achieve better outcomes and to do it more efficiently and effectively. 


We heard your request to conduct a structured review of Fit for Purpose.  We commit to this, not as a question of compliance but to ensure our fitness to meet the challenges head-on, to seize the opportunities in our ever-changing world.  We will work—together with the Board—to review Fit for Purpose, reporting to you in 2016, drawing on the expertise of independent oversight bodies.  And we commit to communicating in a way that highlights both the problems and the solutions, and to appreciate our progress, helping us all work together to overcome our challenges.


On partnerships, we thank the Board for its consensus and for its strong support of our new Corporate Partnership Strategy.  Now it is our turn to implement the strategy.  We noted your advice on how we must monitor the results, ensuring we deliver transparency on costs.


On gender, we heard your request for greater focus on country-level activities.  As we said this week, we commit to focus on this issue both in terms of gender parity in our staffing and our programming.  Our Gender Policy road-map will implement a series of informal consultations with the Board.  We will also commit to including the Women Representatives’ Gender Network in the External Reference Group.  


On Value for Money, we acknowledge your call for efficiency and effectiveness, a consistent theme throughout our discussions.  You heard our commitment to pursuing Value for Money in all of our processes and in all of our work.  We thank you for your acknowledgement and support of the progress we are making also in in accountability and transparency.   


On Risk Management, we recognize the Board’s attention.  As we noted in the session, we cannot eliminate risk and we cannot prevent negative events from occurring.  But we can ensure that we mitigate risk when possible.  We accept risk and we are prepared and fit to meet the challenges. 


We thank the Board for its support of the Financial Framework Review, and in particular, ensuring that the Working Capital Financing Facility adequately supports our operations.   We look forward to a continued dialogue with you on further enhancing our Financial Framework, particularly concerning flexibility and accountability components.


We acknowledge the Board’s call for strengthening our internal technical and operating capacity… in livelihoods… in gender… and in monitoring and evaluation.  We are addressing those gaps.  And we ask for your support including more flexibility in your funding and our accounting activities.


Excellencies, I would like to close this Annual Board session with the words of another giant of our time, who sadly passed away last week, Ms. Maya Angelou. 


Maya gave voice to the pain, joy and enduring power of the international human spirit.  Maya said:

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”


Yes, we must ensure that we take the steps… and make the decisions… sometimes bold, sometimes difficult, sometimes new and sometimes previously unthinkable… to support our transformation. 


Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, you give us the power to transform and we will continue to seek your counsel. 


Thank You.




Madam President, members of the Board, ladies and gentlemen, as is our tradition, we bid farewell to retiring and departing staff.


It is with great pride I announce the director of our African Union WFP Office, Abdoulaye Diop, has taken up his role of Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in Mali.  I am sure you will all join me in wishing all the best to His Excellency Diop as he assumes this extremely important role in his government.


Madam President, I have just one more favor to ask of you. 


I hope you will permit me a few minutes, to pay tribute to the career of one of WFP’s most dedicated and long-serving staff, who will be retiring from 35 years of service later this year.


Yes, I think you all know who I am talking about.  A friend to the people we serve, to staff whether junior or senior.  He is respected by everyone who has had the honor and privilege to work with him, he is Mr. Kenro Oshidari. 


He has been WFP’s Regional Director in Asia, since 2009, and he has held so many senior posts in this organization over the past 20 years from Albania, to Kosovo, to Serbia and Sudan.  I could go on!  Kenro embodies the spirit and grit of WFP, asking not what WFP could do for him, but what he could do for WFP.  He did so much and he led so many. 


To pay tribute to his service, we would like to show you this montage of Kenro’s career.  Kenro on behalf of all the staff of WFP,

Thank You..