Delivered on the occasion of OFID’s 40th and UNIDO’s 50th Anniversary reception

23.11.2016 | Vienna, Austria

Welcome speech delivered November 23, 2016, by Suleiman J Al-Herbish, Director-General of OFID, on the occasion of OFID’s 40th and UNIDO’s 50th Anniversary reception and panel discussion at OFID headquarters in Vienna, Austria.

Ladies and Gentlemen, honourable guests, welcome to our Headquarters. It gives us great pleasure to host you on the pleasant occasion of the joint anniversaries of UNIDO and OFID.

This year, OFID marks its fortieth anniversary, which we have dedicated to promoting the plight of refugees. The image behind me is taken at the Zaarti Refugee camp in Jordan, reminding us that these children deserve the chance of a better future. And it’s our responsibility to make that happen. Achieving this goal requires strong partnerships, like the one OFID enjoys with UNIDO.

OFID’s relationship with UNIDO deepened during the tenure of former Director-General Kandeh Yumkella, and has continued to grow under Li Yong’s leadership since 2013.

Director-General Li Yong and I have known each other for many years. In 2009, when I was in Beijing to sign the first ever public sector agreement between OFID and China, it was HE Li Yong— then Vice Minister of Finance—who signed the agreement on behalf of his country.

OFID and UNIDO’s alliance has been forged in our common desire to end energy poverty. Over the past years, OFID has directed resources into energy access projects, mobilizing all financing windows and pursuing all viable solutions, including renewables. I spoke to you all on Monday about our joint efforts and the success we have shared in the inclusion of energy access in the Sustainable Development Goals.

Tonight however, we focus on food security, which is part of OFID’s new strategic vision based on the water-food-energy nexus. This critical nexus forms the core of OFID’s Corporate Plan for the decade 2016–2025.

Every year, three million children under the age of five die from ill nourishment, and nearly 800 million people remain chronically undernourished.

Many factors contribute to this tragic reality and the challenges are deeply complex. It’s not only a question of producing enough food. It’s about storage and processing; finance and markets; distribution networks and value chains; capacity strengthening, institutional changes; management of natural resources; and the united efforts of all stakeholders.

Tonight’s panellists will cover a wide range of topics related to advanced technical capacities that increase, improve, and secure food yields.

In fact, I am certain that they will confirm the view previously expressed by my friend Li Yong: “There is not a single country in the world that has reached a high stage of economic and social development without having developed an advanced industrial sector”. We certainly agree with him, and the global community recognizes this.

My colleague Faris Hasan will also speak to you in more detail about the water-food-energy nexus, which I briefly mentioned.

I wish you all a pleasant and informative evening, and once again: Happy Anniversary to UNIDO. Thank you.