FAO: Personalities such as Leyla Aliyeva have unique convincing power and their messages can be heard by millions of people

FAO: Personalities such as Leyla Aliyeva have unique convincing power and their messages can be heard by millions of people

Baku, Azerbaijan, Sept. 8

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The appointment of the Vice President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Leyla Aliyeva as Goodwill Ambassador of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is another important step in the FAO-Azerbaijan partnership, Nadine Valat, team leader for resource mobilization and donor liaison at the FAO, said.

On September 2, 2015, the FAO had the honour to receive the visit of Leyla Aliyeva, Vice President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and FAO Goodwill Ambassador, Nadine Valat said.

Valat also said Leyla Aliyeva was nominated FAO Goodwill Ambassador on May 25, 2015 when FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva travelled to Baku and signed together with Heydar Asadov, minister for agriculture, the agreements to establish new FAO Liaison and Partnership Office in Azerbaijan.

"The Republic of Azerbaijan became a member of FAO in 1995 and since then a strong partnership grew," said Valat. "In 1999, FAO implemented its first project, funded by the Kingdom of the Netherlands, to provide emergency assistance to Azerbaijani internally displaced people. Several other projects to improve food security and support internally displaced people were implemented during the last 20 years."

These, according to Nadine Valat, range from avian influenza control and eradication programs, to support to development of aquaculture, disposal of obsolete pesticides, support to apiculture development, conservation agriculture or support to rural women.

Nadine Valat also said that more recently, Azerbaijan, the economy of which has been flourishing, took very concrete steps to change its status from being a sole recipient country of international assistance.

"The country has expressly declared its intention to become a resource partner for projects, initially in Azerbaijan with the option to support, in the future, other countries in the region or beyond," Nadine Valat said.

Valat further said FAO highly values new partners such as emerging economies and middle income countries (MICs) as they are key players on international development scene and they can contribute to FAO efforts to diversify its resource partnership base.

"Emerging economies and MICs are also key FAO partners, as they can share with other countries, through the South-South/Triangular Cooperation modality, their experience and knowledge that can be successfully applied by less privileged countries to overcome food security issues," according to Nadine Valat.

Nadine Valat also recalled that on May 25, 2015, the FAO-Azerbaijan Partnership Program was signed and will be implemented through the new FAO Liaison and Partnership Office in Baku.

Valat said that the new partnership program, which foresees a $10 million contribution over five years will focus, in the initial stage, on support to priority areas that have been identified by the government of Azerbaijan and FAO, through the Country Programming Framework, namely: animal health and plant protection, including transboundary animal and plant disease control, supporting investments in agriculture, food security and rural development, support to improved crop, fisheries and livestock production and sustainable, equitable and efficient forestry, land and water resource management, capacity development, including agricultural education, research and extension, strengthening the policy and institutional framework for agriculture and rural development.

According to Nadine Valat, FAO launched its goodwill ambassadors' program in 1999 and since then, worldwide known personalities such as Carl Lewis (athlete), Raoul Bova (actor), Celine Dion (singer), and H.M. Queen Letizia of Spain have accepted to put their celebrity at the service of FAO's mission to outreach to the general public and advocate for FAO and its mandate.

"The next December, the Conference of the Parties (COP21) will hold a crucial meeting to address the issues of climate change," said Valat. "Climate change has a major impact on the livelihoods of millions of people and on their food security. The world has the technologies and the capacity to eradicate hunger in a sustainable manner."

"FAO believes that with the support of its goodwill ambassadors, it can spread further the message and make everyone convinced that eradicating hunger is not a dream but a concrete possibility that we could witness during our lifetime," said Valat.

"Personalities such as Ms Leyla Aliyeva have a unique convincing power and their messages can be heard by millions of people," she said. "We trust that Ms Leyla Aliyeva can successfully assist FAO in participating and spreading the word about FAO's work at high-profile fundraising events in Azerbaijan. Her popularity can attract local media to FAO's work in the region and raise awareness in the fight against hunger."

"Ms Leyla Aliyeva might consider visiting FAO field projects in Azerbaijan and in the region and report on the results she could see," Nadine Valat said.

According to Nadine Valat, in recent years, FAO has been broadening the range of its partnership to other key stakeholders, such as the private sector at large and foundations in particular.

"The Heydar Aliyev Foundation is very well known and active in supporting development activities in Azerbaijan, in particular supporting women income generating activities and environment protection," she said. "FAO hopes that it will also be possible in the near future to develop a partnership with the Foundation."

"Through exchange of knowledge and information on development activities in the field of agricultural and rural development, FAO and the Foundation, with the championship of its vice president, could successfully join forces and together build a better world, free of hunger," said Nadine Valat.

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