Leonard Mizzi (1992 Commonwealth Scholar from Malta, PhD in Agricultural Economics, University of Reading) is currently the Head of Unit in DG Agriculture and Rural Development at the European Commission, Brussels. He is specifically in charge of the unit dealing with relations with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, the UN, including FAO, and the G8/G20 groups.
Leonard’s main duties include coordinating on behalf of the European Commission agricultural trade negotiations with ACP countries, and representing the EC in high level meetings on agriculture and food security, including FAO, UN and G8/G20 processes. Leonard leads on DG Agri in work related to EU-Africa relations and follow up to EU-Africa strategy as well as relations with Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in the African continent.
Recently he has been working – in close cooperation with other Commission services, and has become more involved in agricultural research for development (ARD) and identifying N-S and trilateral cooperation opportunities.
Some recent activities include representing the European Commission in a Workshop in West Africa (Burkina Faso) to discuss agricultural investment strategies in the region, donor coordination and support to agriculture and food and nutrition security (FNS); organising and following up on an agribusiness workshop to identify opportunities in agri value chains in Africa (the proceedings can be found hereunder:
A major current and ongoing project is work leading to a major Conference- which will be the input of the EC to the UN International Year of Family Farming (2014). This process will be launched in November.
Leonard participated as part of the EU team in the Rio Summit and is following up on the provisions linked to the sustainable agriculture and food and nutrition security theme of the Summit. He had the opportunity to discuss issues ranging from major agricultural investment, excessive price volatility and trade policy with civil society and high level representatives of many developing and developed countries
The Commonwealth Scholarship at the University of Reading has not only enabled Leonard to enhance his academic skills in agricultural economics and development but gave him the opportunity to network with fellow colleagues from developing countries, many from ACP countries. ‘My formative years in Reading were actually like the first seeds for my commitment to try to find robust solutions to tomorrow’s challenges-economic, social and environmental in the field of agriculture. In my daily work I have the opportunity to meet many government and representatives from civil society from ACP countries. I have also maintained excellent contacts with the University of Reading, in particular recently with the Centre for Food Security.’
Leonard believes that the international networks of Commonwealth Scholars can help seek solutions to the persistent problems linked to food insecurity, especially in some Sub Saharan African countries. ‘Whilst significant progress has been realised since 2000 when the Millennium Development Goals were agreed, there is still a lot that needs to be done. I’m happy that I can contribute, in my daily work, to try to come up with possible avenues and solutions – in close cooperation with other colleagues from developed and developing countries.’
Sharing experiences and solutions amongst the Commonwealth Scholarships community, such as through the Agriculture network, is one way that Leonard believes we can start to tackle issues relating to agriculture and food security. ‘I would be ready to share any experiences that i gained in the past seven years on the international arena in the field of sustainable agriculture and food and nutrition security with Commonwealth Scholars and Fellows in advanced studies in universities, and those in ACP countries, in particular.’