Foundation Date: 1945
President: José Graziano da Silva
Member Countries: 194
An intergovernmental organization, FAO has 194 Member Nations, two associate members and one member organization, the European Union. Its employees come from various cultural backgrounds and are experts in the multiple fields of activity FAO engages in. FAO’s staff capacity allows it to support improved governance inter alia, generate, develop and adapt existing tools and guidelines and provide targeted governance support as a resource to country and regional level FAO offices. Headquartered in Rome, Italy, FAO is present in over 130 countries. Achieving food security for all is at the heart of FAO's efforts – to make sure people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives.
- Help eliminate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition - 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, 842 million people still suffer from chronic hunger. Among children, it is estimated that 162 million under five years of age are chronically malnourished (stunted). Micronutrient deficiencies, or “hidden hunger,” affect over two billion people worldwide, impeding human and socio-economic development and contributing to the vicious cycle of malnutrition and underdevelopment. At the same time, an estimated 500 million people are obese. Beyond the ethical dimensions of this complex problem, the human, social and economic costs to society at large are enormous in terms of lost productivity, health, well-being, decreased learning ability and reduced fulfillment of human potential.
- 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. Innovative approaches are needed across the agriculture sector to increase productivity, conserve natural resources, and use inputs sustainably and efficiently. Such approaches will require the participation of smallholders, women, indigenous peoples and marginalized groups. Competition over natural resources, such as land, water and oceans, is intensifying and in many places is leading to the exclusion of traditional users from resources and markets. Social and demographic changes in rural areas also affect the labour available for production. The increasing movement of people and goods, and changes in production practices, give rise to new threats from pests, diseases and invasive alien species. Climate change reduces the resilience of production systems and contributes to natural resource degradation. The agriculture sector is both a contributor to, and impacted by, climate change. Improved practices and reducing deforestation and forest degradation offer significant potential for climate change adaptation and mitigation.
- 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. Bringing more people out of rural poverty is not only an imperative of human dignity and a necessity for sustainable food security;it is also good economics. Successful economic development anywhere, typically has been propelled in its initial stages by fast agricultural productivity growth and broader rural development.
- 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. They are excluded mainly because they may not have the mechanisms to allow them to be included in the new globalized marketplace.
- Increase the resilience of livelihoods to disasters - 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.