Food and Agriculture Organization

A specialized agency of the United Nationsthat leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate arguments and debate policy.

FAO is also a source of knowledge and information, and helps developing countries in transition modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices, ensuring good nutrition and food security for all. Its Latin motto, fiat panis, translates as “let there be bread”. As of May 2017, FAO has 197 member states, along with the European Union (a “member organization”), and the Faroe Islandsand Tokelau, which are associate members.

The FAO Strategic Objectives

Achieving FAO’s goals to end hunger and poverty is a challenging and complex task. Today, thanks to major changes in how we do business, FAO is a fitter, flatter and more flexible organization, whose activities are driven by five strategic objectives.

Help eliminate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition

Our challenge: there is sufficient capacity in the world to produce enough food to feed everyone adequately; nevertheless, in spite of progress made over the last two decades, 815 million people still suffer from chronic hunger. Among children, it is estimated that 155 million under five years of age are chronically malnourished (stunted) and over 52 million are acutely malnourished (wasted).

Our mandate is to support members in their efforts to ensure that people have regular access to enough high-quality food. We can help by supporting policies and political commitments that promote food security and good nutrition and by making sure that up-to-date information about hunger and malnutrition challenges and solutions is available and accessible.

Make agriculture, forestry and fisheries more productive and sustainable

The world’s population is predicted to increase to 9 billion people by 2050. Some of the world’s highest rates of population growth are predicted to occur in areas that are highly dependent on the agriculture sector (crops, livestock, forestry and fisheries) and have high rates of food insecurity. Growth in the agriculture sector is one of the most effective means of reducing poverty and achieving food security. We must ensure that increased productivity does not only benefit the few, and that the natural resource base can provide services (pollination, nutrient cycling in soils, quality water, etc.) that enhance sustainability.

Reduce rural poverty

Most of the world’s poor live in rural areas. Hunger and food insecurity above all are expressions of rural poverty. Reducing rural poverty, therefore, is central to FAO’s mission. Many living in rural areas have been lifted out of poverty in recent decades. In 1990, 54% of those living in rural areas in developing countries lived on less than $1.25 a day and were considered extremely poor. By 2010, this share had dropped to 35%. Rural poverty remains widespread especially in South Asia and Africa. These regions have also seen least progress in improving rural livelihoods. FAO strives to help smallholders improve farm productivity whilst aiming to also increase off-farm employment opportunities and, through social protection, find better ways for rural populations to manage and cope with risks in their environments .

Enable inclusive and efficient agricultural and food systems

With increasing globalization, agriculture as an independent sector will cease to exist, becoming instead, just one part of an integrated value chain. The value chain exits both upstream and downstream, or from production through to processing and sales, in which the whole is now highly concentrated, integrated and globalized. This poses a huge challenge for smallholder farmers and agricultural producers in many developing countries where even the most economically valid smallholders can easily be excluded from important parts of the value chain.

Increasing their participation in food and agricultural systems is critical to achieving FAO’s goal of a world without hunger.

Increase the resilience of livelihoods to threats and crises

Each year, millions of people who depend on the production, marketing and consumption of crops, livestock, fish, forests and other natural resources are confronted by disasters and crises. They can strike suddenly – like an earthquake or a violent coup d’état – or unfold slowly – like drought-flood cycles. They can occur as a single event, one can trigger another,or multiple events can converge and interact simultaneously with cascading and magnified effects. These emergencies threaten the production of, and access to, food at local, national and, at times, regional and global levels. FAO’s mission is to help countries govern, prevent and mitigate risks and crises and support them in preparing and responding to disasters.

Codex Alimentarius

  • FAO and the World Health Organization created the Codex Alimentarius Commission in 1961 to develop food standards, guidelines and texts such as codes of practice under the Joint FAO/ WHO Food Standards Programme. The main aims of the programme are protecting consumer health, ensuring fair trade and promoting co-ordination of all food standards work undertaken by intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.

International Plant Protection Convention

  • FAO created the International Plant Protection Convention or IPPC in 1952. This international treaty organization works to prevent the international spread of pests and plant diseases in both cultivated and wild plants. Among its functions are the maintenance of lists of plant pests, tracking of pest outbreaks, and coordination of technical assistance between member nations. As of May 2012, 177 governments had adopted the treaty.

The Alliance Against Hunger and Malnutrition (AAHM) 

  • aims to address how countries and organizations can be more effective in advocating and carrying out actions to address hunger and malnutrition. As a global partnership, AAHM creates global connections between local, regional, national and international institutions that share the goals of fighting hunger and malnutrition. The organization works to address food security by enhancing resources and knowledge sharing and strengthening hunger activities within countries and across state lines at the regional and international levels.

International Alliance Against Hunger

  • Following the World Food Summit, the Alliance was initially created in 2002 as the ‘International Alliance Against Hunger (IAAH)’ to strengthen and coordinate national efforts in the fight against hunger and malnutrition. The mission of the Alliance originates from the first and eight UN Millennium Development Goals; reducing the number of people that suffer from hunger in half by 2015 (preceded by the “Rome Declaration” in 1996) and developing a global partnership for development. The Alliance was founded by the Rome-based food agencies – the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), UN World Food Programme (WFP), International Fund for Agriculture Fund for Development (IFAD), – and Bioversity International.

Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems

  • The Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) Partnership Initiative was conceptualized and presented by Dr. Parviz Koohafkan the Task Manager of Chapter 10 of Agenda 21 in Food and Agricultural Organization of United Nations, FAO in 2002 during World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa.
  • This UN Partnership Initiative aims to identify, support and safeguard Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems and their livelihoods, agricultural and associated biodiversity, landscapes, knowledge systems and cultures around the world. The GIAHS Partnership recognizes the crucial importance of the well-being of family farming communities in an integrated approach while directing activities towards sustainable agriculture and rural development.
  • The overall goal of the GIAHS Programme is to identify and safeguard Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems and their associated landscapes, agricultural biodiversity and knowledge systems through catalyzing and establishing a long-term programme to support such systems and enhance global, national and local benefits derived through their dynamic conservation, sustainable management and enhanced viability.