Deputy Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)


Maria Helena M.Q. Semedo

Maria Helena Semedo, a leading expert in global development issues, has worked in public service for over thirty years.

Currently serving as Deputy Director-General, Climate and Natural Resources, for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Ms Semedo is an economist and politician from Cape Verde.

A strong advocate on the importance of food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture as the key to tackling the root causes of hunger and poverty, Ms Semedo helps give voice to the most vulnerable people and communities around the world, especially the rural poor and women.

Before taking up her current duties in 2013, Maria Helena gained valuable experience and insight in Africa, first as FAO Representative in Niger, then as Deputy Regional Representative for Africa and Subregional Coordinator for West Africa.

Ms Semedo started her career in 1984 as an economist for the Cape Verde Ministry of Planning and Cooperation and later at the Bank of Cape Verde. Two years after becoming Secretary of State for Fisheries, in 1993 she was appointed Minister for Fisheries, Agriculture and Rural Affairs – the first ever women Minister in Cape Verde. After serving as Minister for Tourism, Transportation and Marine Affairs from 1995-1998, she became Member of Parliament, a position she held until 2003. During this time she also represented her country in many international organizations.


Awards and honors:

Award and honors: December 2018: The Universidade Aberta in Lisbon confers the Honoris Causa doctorate for her work in global sustainable development.


March 2018: Named "Woman of the Year" at the commemoration of the 2018 Women Diplomats Day in Portugal.
(photo with the President of the Republic of Cabo Verde)


May 2008: Receives the Order of Niger for her distinguished service to the field of agriculture.