The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is a specialised agency of the United Nations that 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 agreements and debate policy.
FAO is also a source of knowledge and information, and helps developing countries and countries in transition modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices, ensuring good nutrition and food security for all. As of May 2017, FAO has 194 member states, along with the European Union (a “member organization”), and the Faroe Islands and Tokelau, which are associate members.
Its Latin motto, fiat panis, translates as “let there be bread”.
FAO is composed of six departments: Agriculture and Consumer Protection, Economic and Social Development, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Forestry, Corporate Services and Technical Cooperation and Programme Management.
FAO has outlined the following priorities in its fight against hunger.
- Help eliminate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition – contribute to the eradication of hunger by facilitating policies and political commitments to support food security and by making sure that up-to-date information about hunger and nutrition challenges and solutions is available and accessible.
- Make agriculture, forestry and fisheries more productive and sustainable – promote evidence-based policies and practices to support highly productive agricultural sectors (crops, livestock, forestry and fisheries), while ensuring that the natural resource base does not suffer in the process.
- Reduce rural poverty – help the rural poor gain access to the resources and services they need – including rural employment and social protection – to forge a path out of poverty.
- Enable inclusive and efficient agricultural and food systems – help to build safe and efficient food systems that support smallholder agriculture and reduce poverty and hunger in rural areas.
- Increase the resilience of livelihoods to threats and crises – help countries to prepare for natural and human-caused disasters by reducing their risk and enhancing the resilience of their food and agricultural systems.
Binay Ranjan Sen was an Indian diplomat and Indian Civil Service officer who served as Director-General of FAO from November 1956 – December 1967.
FAO Goodwill Ambassadors
The FAO Goodwill Ambassadors Programme was initiated in 1999. The main purpose of the programme is to attract public and media attention to the situation that some 1 billion people continue to suffer from chronic hunger and malnutrition in a time of unprecedented plenty. These people lead a life of misery and are denied the most basic of human rights: the right to food.
Each of FAO’s Goodwill Ambassadors – celebrities from the arts, entertainment, sport and academia such as Nobel Prize winner Rita Levi Montalcini, actress Gong Li, the late singer Miriam Makeba, International Singers Ronan Keating, and Anggun. And soccer players Roberto Baggio and Raúl, to name a few – has made a personal and professional commitment to FAO’s vision: a food-secure world for present and future generations. Using their talents and influence, the Goodwill Ambassadors draw the old and the young, the rich and the poor into the campaign against world hunger. They aim to make Food for All a reality in the 21st century and beyond.