Alleviating hunger and malnutrition: The FAO

1st November 2006, Bulbul Dalal Angara region of Nyala, Southern Darfur, 1980 km west of Khartoum. A farmer is harvesting sorghum plants from seeds donated by the FAO (Food & Agriculture Organization). This locality is targeted by FAO through its Improved Seeds Project, put together for local farmers to improve their harvest and their income.

Next up in our series on the #LiveBelowtheLine challenge and in anticipation of the AMUN 2017 simulation of the Food and Agriculture Organization, we bring you this post on important milestones in the history of the FAO and a few facts that might come in handy during a game of trivia.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is one of the most important subsidiary agencies of the UN. Through its original mandate to “free humanity from hunger and malnutrition, and to effectively manage the global food system,” the FAO has become one of the most effective bodies of the United Nations in supporting sustainable development. It approaches the challenges of food security and feeding an ever-growing population creatively, often managing to provide additional focus on related development goals like gender parity or environmental protection while addressing food and agriculture concerns. Many FAO programs partner with other UN bodies, research institutes, schools, and private concerns to address more than one Sustainable Development Goal at a time. The FAO hosts the world’s largest database of food and agriculture information, statistics and research and provides that information worldwide for free.

Milestones to Remember

The FAO has a long and productive history, and while much of its work is regional or country-specific, the FAO has had a global impact of the development of food and agriculture in many different ways.

The First World Food Conference was held in 1974; since then the FAO has worked to meet the goals outlined in the Universal Declaration on the Eradication of Hunger and Malnutrition.

In 1979, the FAO Committee adopted the Plan of Action on World Food Security.

In 1992, the FAO and the World Health Organization organized the first International Conference on Nutrition resulting in the World Declaration and Plan of Action for Nutrition.

In 1996, World leaders assembled in Rome, Italy for a World Food Summit that was convened by the FAO in light of continuing struggles to end global hunger.

In 2008, the Director-General of the FAO served with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on a High-Level Task Force on Global Food and Nutrition Security.

Since 2012, the FAO has worked to meet the Zero Hunger Challenge as outlined at the Rio+20 as an initiative of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

In 2014, the International Conference on Nutrition issued the Rome Declaration on Nutrition.

The FAO has had numerous partners in research and execution of FAO goals including, but in no way limited to, Texas A&M University (USA), the AGREENIUM (France) system of higher education, the European Alliance on Agricultural Knowledge for Development (AGRINATURA, Czech Republic), and the Kuehne Foundation (Switzerland) among many others.  

Fun FAO Facts

Fun Fact 1: On the anniversary of its formation, more than 150 countries worldwide celebrate International Food Day on 16 October. You can find an archive of past World Food Day posters, websites, and resolutions about World Food Day here.

Fun Fact 2: The motto of the FAO is Fiat Panis which is Latin for “Let There Be Bread.” You can find facts about bread and recipes to prepare them from the FAO here.

Fun Fact 3: Prior to 2000 the number of women employed by the FAO only accounted for 19 percent of the staff. In the last fifteen years sustained effort has been put to getting more women involved with the FAO and women now comprise more than 37 percent of the FAO staff. The FAO fights for gender equality through a number of its programs such as using microfinance to promote agriculture in Niger.

Fun Fact 4: The FAO loves infographics, and they produce several meaningful ones each year. Some highlights include: The Future of Food and Agriculture, What is Antimicrobial Resistance, facts about Eggs and Chocolate, and How Much Water is Needed to Produce… Many of the infographics are produced using data collected by the FAO and which is available through FAOSTAT.


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