FAO | Wikipedia audio article

FAO | Wikipedia audio article


The Food and Agriculture Organization of the
United Nations (FAO; French: Organisation des Nations unies pour l’alimentation et l’agriculture,
Italian: Organizzazione delle Nazioni Unite per l’Alimentazione e l’Agricoltura) is a
specialized 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 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, is translated
as “let there be bread”. As of August 2018, The FAO has 197 member
states, including the European Union (a “member organization”), Niue and The Cook Islands
(States in free-association with New Zealand), and the Faroe Islands and Tokelau, which are
associate members.==History==
The idea of an international organization for food and agriculture emerged in the late
19th and early 20th century advanced primarily by the US agriculturalist and activist David
Lubin. In May–June 1905, an international conference
was held in Rome, Italy, which led to the creation of the International Institute of
Agriculture by the King of Italy Victor Emmanuel III.Later in 1943, the United States President
Franklin D. Roosevelt called a United Nations Conference on Food and Agriculture. Representatives from forty-four governments
gathered at The Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Virginia, US, from 18 May to 3 June. They committed themselves to founding a permanent
organization for food and agriculture, which happened in Quebec City, Canada, on 16 October
1945 with the conclusion of the Constitution of the Food and Agriculture Organization. The First Session of the FAO Conference was
held in the Château Frontenac in Quebec City from 16 October to 1 November 1945. World War II effectively ended the International
Agricultural Institute, though it was only officially dissolved by resolution of its
Permanent Committee on 27 February 1948. Its functions were then transferred to the
recently established FAO.From the late 1940s on, FAO attempted to make its mark within
the emerging UN system, focusing mostly on supporting agricultural and nutrition research
and providing technical assistance to member countries to boost production in agriculture,
fishery, and forestry.During the 1950s and 1960s, FAO partnered with many different international
organizations in development projects.==Structure and finance==In 1951, FAO’s headquarters were moved from
Washington, DC, United States, to Rome, Italy. The agency is directed by the Conference of
Member Nations, which meets every two years to review the work carried out by the organization
and to Work and Budget for the next two-year period. The Conference elects a council of 49 member
states (serve three-year rotating terms) that acts as an interim governing body, and the
Director-General, that heads the agency. FAO is composed of eight departments: Agriculture
and Consumer Protection, Climate, Biodiversity, Land and Water Department, Economic and Social
Development, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Forestry, Corporate Services and Technical Cooperation
and Programme Management.Beginning in 1994, FAO underwent the most significant restructuring
since its founding, to decentralize operations, streamline procedures and reduce costs. As a result, savings of about US$50 million,
€35 million a year were realized.===Budget===
FAO’s Regular Programme budget is funded by its members, through contributions set at
the FAO Conference. This budget covers core technical work, cooperation
and partnerships including the Technical Cooperation Programme, knowledge exchange, policy and
advocacy, direction and administration, governance and security. The total FAO Budget planned for 2018–2019
is USD 1,005.6 million. The voluntary contributions provided by members
and other partners support mechanical and emergency (including rehabilitation) assistance
to governments for clearly defined purposes linked to the results framework, as well as
direct support to FAO’s core work. The voluntary contributions are expected to
reach approximately US$1.6 billion in 2016–2017. This overall budget covers core technical
work, cooperation and partnerships, leading to Food and Agriculture Outcomes at 71 percent;
Core Functions at 11 percent; the Country Office Network – 5 percent; Capital and
Security Expenditure – 2 percent; Administration – 6 percent; and Technical and Cooperation
Program – 5 percent.===Directors-General===
John Boyd Orr, October 1945 – April 1948 Norris E. Dodd, April 1948 – December 1953
Philip V. Cardon, January 1954 – April 1956 Herbert Broadley, (acting) April 1956 – November
1956 Binay Ranjan Sen, November 1956 – December
1967 Addeke Hendrik Boerma, January 1968 – December
1975 Edouard Saouma, January 1976 – December
1993 Jacques Diouf, January 1994 – December 2011
José Graziano da Silva, January 2012 – July 2019
Qu Dongyu, August 2019 – 31 July 2023===Deputy Directors-General=====
Offices=====FAO headquarters===The world headquarters are located in Rome,
in the former seat of the Department of Italian East Africa. One of the most notable features of the building
was the Axum Obelisk which stood in front of the agency seat, although just outside
the territory allocated to FAO by the Italian Government. It was taken from Ethiopia by Benito Mussolini’s
troops in 1937 as a war chest, and returned on 18 April 2005.===Regional offices===
Regional Office for Africa, in Accra, Ghana Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific,
in Bangkok, Thailand Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia,
in Budapest, Hungary Regional Office for Latin America and the
Caribbean, in Santiago, Chile Regional Office for the Near East, in Cairo,
Egypt===Sub-regional offices===Sub-regional Office for Central Africa (SFC),
in Libreville, Gabon Sub-regional Office for Central Asia, in Ankara,
Turkey Sub-regional Office for Eastern Africa (SFE),
in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Sub-regional Office for Mesoamerica (SLM),
in Panama City, Panama Sub-regional Office for North Africa, in Tunis,
Tunisia Sub-regional Office for Southern Africa and
East Africa, in Harare, Zimbabwe Sub-regional Office for the Caribbean, in
Bridgetown, Barbados Sub-regional Office for the Gulf Cooperation
Council States and Yemen, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Sub-regional Office for the Pacific Islands, in Apia, Samoa===
Liaison offices===Liaison Office for North America, in Washington,
DC Liaison Office with Japan, in Yokohama
Liaison Office with the European Union and Belgium, in Brussels
Liaison Office with the Russian Federation, in Moscow
Liaison Office with the United Nations, in Geneva
Liaison Office with the United Nations, in New York==
Priority work areas==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.Two
fundamental areas of work – gender and governance – are fully integrated in the above strategic
objective action plans.==Programmes and achievements=====
Food=======
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 organization.====World Food Summit====In 1996, FAO organized the World Food Summit,
attended by 112 Heads or Deputy Heads of State and Government. The Summit concluded with the signing of the
Rome Declaration, which established the goal of halving the number of people who suffer
from hunger by the year 2015. At the same time, 1,200 civil society organizations
(CSOs) from 80 countries participated in an NGO forum. The forum was critical of the growing industrialization
of agriculture and called upon governments – and FAO – to do more to protect the
‘Right to Food’ of the poor.====TeleFood====
In 1997, FAO launched TeleFood, a campaign of concerts, sporting events and other activities
to harness the power of media, celebrities and concerned citizens to help fight hunger. Since its start, the campaign has generated
close to US$28 million, €15 million in donations. Money raised through TeleFood pays for small,
sustainable projects that help small-scale farmers produce more food for their families
and communities.The projects provide tangible resources, such as fishing equipment, seeds
and agricultural implements. They vary enormously, from helping families
raise pigs in Venezuela, through creating school gardens in Cape Verde and Mauritania
or providing school lunches in Uganda and teaching children to grow food, to raising
fish in a leper community in India.====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 unacceptable 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. Governments alone cannot end hunger and undernourishment. Mobilization of the public and private sectors,
the involvement of civil society and the pooling of collective and individual resources are
all needed if people are to break out of the vicious circle of chronic hunger and undernourishment. 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 – have 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.====Right to Food Guidelines====
In 2004 the Right to Food Guidelines were adopted, offering guidance to states on how
to implement their obligations on the right to food.====Response to food crisis====
In December 2007, FAO launched its Initiative on Soaring Food Prices to help small producers
raise their output and earn more. Under the initiative, FAO contributed to the
work of the UN High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Crisis, which produced the Comprehensive
Framework for Action. FAO has carried out projects in over 25 countries
and inter-agency missions in nearly 60, scaled up its monitoring through the Global Information
and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture, provided policy advice to governments while
supporting their efforts to increase food production, and advocated for more investment
in agriculture. s also worked hand-in-hand with the European
Union. One example of its work is a US$10.2 million,
€7.5 billion scheme to distribute and multiply quality seeds in Haiti, which has significantly
increased food production, thereby providing cheaper food and boosting====FAO–EU partnership====
In May 2009, FAO and the European Union signed an initial aid package worth €125 million
to support small farmers in countries hit hard by rising food prices. The aid package falls under the EU’s €1
billion Food Facility, set up with the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Task Force
on the Global Food Crisis and FAO to focus on programmes that will have a quick but lasting
impact on food security. FAO is receiving a total of around €200
million for work in 25 countries, of which €15.4 million goes to Zimbabwe.====Food security programmes====
The Special Programme for Food Security is FAO’s flagship initiative for reaching the
goal of halving the number of hungry in the world by 2015 (currently estimated at close
to 1 billion people), as part of its commitment to the Millennium Development Goals. Through projects in over 100 countries worldwide,
the programme promotes effective, tangible solutions to the elimination of hunger, undernourishment
and poverty. Currently 102 countries are engaged in the
programme and of these approximately 30 have begun shifting from pilot to national programmes. To maximize the impact of its work, FAO strongly
promotes national ownership and local empowerment in the countries in which it operates.====Online campaign against hunger====
The 1billionhungry project became the EndingHunger campaign in April 2011. Spearheaded by FAO in partnership with other
UN agencies and private nonprofit groups, the EndingHunger movement pushes the boundaries
of conventional public advocacy. It builds on the success in 2010 of The 1billonhungry
project and the subsequent chain of public events that led to the collection of over
three million signatures on a global petition to end hunger (www.EndingHunger.org). The petition was originally presented to representatives
of world governments at a ceremony in Rome on 30 November 2010.The web and partnerships
are two pivotal and dynamic aspects of EndingHunger. The campaign relies on the assistance of organizations
and institutions that can facilitate the project’s diffusion, by placing banners on their own
websites or organizing events aimed to raise awareness of the project. In its 2011 season, the campaign expanded
its multimedia content, pursued mutual visibility arrangements with partner organizations, and
sharpened its focus on 14- to 25-year-olds, who were encouraged to understand their potential
as a social movement to push for the end of hunger. Moreover, the EndingHunger project is a viral
communication campaign, renewing and expanding its efforts to build the movement through
Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. Those who sign the petition can spread the
link of the EndingHunger website to their friends, via social media or mail, in order
to gain awareness and signatures for the petition. The next interim objective is to grow the
EndingHunger movement’s Facebook community to 1 million members. As with the petition, the more people who
get involved, the more powerful the message to governments: “We are no longer willing
to accept the fact that hundreds of millions live in chronic hunger.” Groups and individuals can also decide on
their own to organize an event about the project, simply by gathering friends, whistles, T-shirts
and banners (whistles and T-shirts can be ordered, and petition sign sheets downloaded,
on the endinghunger.org website) and thereby alert people about chronic hunger by using
the yellow whistle. The original 1billionhungry campaign borrowed
as its slogan the line “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”,
used by Peter Finch in the 1976 film, Network. Meanwhile, the yellow whistle has been the
campaign symbol from the start, from 1billionhungry to Ending Hunger. (The creative concept was provided by the
McCann Erickson Italy Communication Agency.) It symbolizes the fact that we are “blowing
the whistle” on the silent disaster of hunger. It is both a symbol and – at many live events
taking place around the world – a physical means of expressing frustration and making
some noise about the hunger situation.Both The 1billionhungry and the EndingHunger campaigns
have continued to attract UN Goodwill Ambassadors from the worlds of music and cinema, literature,
sport, activism and government. Some of the well known individuals who have
become involved include former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, former presidents
of Chile Ricardo Lagos and Michelle Bachelet, actress Susan Sarandon, actors Jeremy Irons
and Raul Bova, singers Céline Dion and Anggun, authors Isabelle Allende and Andrea Camilleri,
musician Chucho Valdés and Olympic track-and-field legend Carl Lewis.===Agriculture=======
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 July 2018, 183 contracting parties have
ratified the treaty.====Alliance Against Hunger and Malnutrition
====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. 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 Agricultural Development (IFAD),
– and Bioversity International.AAHM connects top-down and bottom-up anti-hunger development
initiatives, linking governments, UN organizations, and NGOs together in order to increase effectiveness
through unity.====Integrated pest management====
During the 1990s, FAO took a leading role in the promotion of integrated pest management
for rice production in Asia. Hundreds of thousands of farmers were trained
using an approach known as the Farmer Field School (FFS). Like many of the programmes managed by FAO,
the funds for Farmer Field Schools came from bilateral Trust Funds, with Australia, Netherlands,
Norway and Switzerland acting as the leading donors. FAO’s efforts in this area have drawn praise
from NGOs that have otherwise criticized much of the work of the organization.====Transboundary pests and diseases====
FAO established an Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and
Diseases in 1994, focusing on the control of diseases like rinderpest, foot-and-mouth
disease and avian flu by helping governments coordinate their responses. One key element is the Global Rinderpest Eradication
Programme, which has advanced to a stage where large tracts of Asia and Africa have now been
free of the cattle disease rinderpest for an extended period of time. Meanwhile, Locust Watch monitors the worldwide
locust situation and keeps affected countries and donors informed of expected developments.====Global Partnership Initiative for Plant
Breeding Capacity Building====The Global Partnership Initiative for Plant
Breeding Capacity Building (GIPB) is a global partnership dedicated to increasing plant
breeding capacity building. The mission of GIPB is to enhance the capacity
of developing countries to improve crops for food security and sustainable development
through better plant breeding and delivery systems. The ultimate goal is to ensure that a critical
mass of plant breeders, leaders, managers and technicians, donors and partners are linked
together through an effective global network. Increasing capacity building for plant breeding
in developing countries is critical for the achievement of meaningful results in poverty
and hunger reduction and to reverse the current worrisome trends. Plant breeding is a well recognized science
capable of widening the genetic and adaptability base of cropping systems, by combining conventional
selection techniques and modern technologies. It is essential to face and prevent the recurrence
of crises such as that of the soaring food prices and to respond
to the increasing demands for crop based sources of energy.====Investment in agriculture====
FAO’s technical cooperation department hosts an Investment Centre that promotes greater
investment in agriculture and rural development by helping developing countries identify and
formulate sustainable agricultural policies, programmes and projects. It mobilizes funding from multilateral institutions
such as the World Bank, regional development banks and international funds as well as FAO
resources.====Globally Important Agricultural Heritage
Systems (GIAHS)====The Globally Important Agricultural Heritage
Systems (GIAHS) Partnership Initiative was conceptualized and presented by 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.====Animal Genetic Resources====
FAO has a unit focused on Animal Genetic Resources, which are defined as “those animal species
that are used, or may be used, for the production of food and agriculture, and the populations
within each of them. These populations within each species can
be classified as wild and feral populations, landraces and primary populations, standardised
breeds, selected lines, varieties, strains and any conserved genetic material; all of
which are currently categorized as Breeds.” FAO assists countries in implementation of
the Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources. FAO supports a variety of ex situ and in situ
conservation strategies including cryoconservation of animal genetic resources.===Forestry===One of FAO’s strategic goals is the sustainable
management of the world’s forests. The Forestry Department works to balance social
and environmental considerations with the economic needs of rural populations living
in forest areas. FAO serves as a neutral forum for policy dialogue,
as a reliable source of information on forests and trees and as a provider of expert technical
assistance and advice to help countries develop and implement effective national forest programmes. FAO is both a global clearinghouse for information
on forests and forest resources and a facilitator that helps build countries’ local capacity
to provide their own national forest data. In collaboration with member countries, FAO
carries out periodic global assessments of forest resources, which are made available
through reports, publications and the FAO’s Web site. The Global Forest Resources Assessment provides
comprehensive reporting on forests worldwide every five years. FRA 2015 is the most recent global assessment. The results, data and analyses are available
online in different formats, including the FAO synthesis report Global Forest Resources
Assessment 2015: How are forests changing?, the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015
Desk Reference containing summary tables, 234 country reports and the FRA 2015 Infographics. Moreover, in 2015, the journal Forest Ecology
and Management published a special issue, Changes in Global Forest Resources from 1990
to 2015 reporting forest change over the period 1990–2015. Every two years, FAO publishes the State of
the World’s Forests, a major report covering current and emerging issues facing the forestry
sector. Since 1947, FAO has published the FAO Yearbook
of Forest Products, a compilation of statistical data on basic forest products from over 100
countries and territories of the world. It contains data on the volume of production;
and the volume, value and direction of trade in forest products. Unasylva, FAO’s peer-reviewed journal on forestry,
has been published in English, French and Spanish on a regular basis since 1947, the
longest-running multilingual forestry journal in the world. The FAO is an official sponsor of International
Day of Forests, on 21 March each year, as proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly
on 28 November 2012.Every 6 years since 1926, FAO and a host member state hold the World
Forestry Congress. It is a forum for the sharing of knowledge
and experience regarding the conservation, management and use of the world’s forests,
and covers such issues as international dialogue, socio-economic and institutional aspects,
and forest policies. The Forestry Department is also organized
geographically in several groups covering the whole world’s forest ecosystems. One of them is the Silva mediterranea workgroup,
covering the pan-mediterranean region.===Fisheries===The FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department
is defined through its vision and mission statements: Vision: A world in which responsible and sustainable
use of fisheries and aquaculture resources makes an appreciable contribution to human
well-being, food security and poverty alleviation. Mission: To strengthen global governance and
the managerial and technical capacities of members and to lead consensus-building towards
improved conservation and utilization of aquatic resources.The work of the Fisheries and Aquaculture
Department centers on the “Sustainable management and use of fisheries and aquaculture resource,”
embracing normative as well as operational activities, whether implemented from headquarters
or from the field.===Statistics===
ESSG is an acronym for the Global Statistics Service, the major “section” of the United
Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization – Statistics Division. It is responsible for updating and disseminating
the FAOSTAT report. This offers free and easy access to data for
245 countries and 35 regional areas from 1961 through the most recent year available. Enhanced features include browsing and analysis
of data, an advanced interactive data download, and enhanced data exchange through web services. The Land and Water Division maintains a database
of global water statistics, Aquastat.==Flagship publications==
Every year, FAO publishes a number of major ‘State of the World’ reports related to
food, agriculture, forestry, fisheries and natural resources. State of Agricultural Commodity Markets
State of Food and Agriculture State of Food Insecurity in the World
State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture
State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources State of the World’s Forests
State of the World’s Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture
State of the World’s Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture Status of the World’s Soil Resources==Membership==
There are a total of 197 members comprising 194 member nations, 1 member organization
and 2 associate members. The UN member state that is a non-member of
the FAO is Liechtenstein.Some countries may denote specific representatives to the FAO,
for instance the United States Ambassador to the Food and Agriculture Organization of
the United Nations, who has ambassador rank and is also part of the United States Mission
to the UN Agencies in Rome.==Criticism=====1970s, 80s, 90s===
There has been public criticism of FAO for at least 30 years. Dissatisfaction with the organization’s performance
was among the reasons for the creation of two new organizations after the World Food
Conference in 1974, namely the World Food Council and the International Fund for Agricultural
Development; by the early eighties there was intense rivalry among these organizations. At the same time, the World Food Programme,
which started as an experimental three-year programme under FAO, was growing in size and
independence, with the Directors of FAO and WFP struggling for power.Early in 1989, the
organization came under attack from The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank based
in Washington, DC. The Foundation wrote that “The sad fact is
that the FAO has become essentially irrelevant in combating hunger. A bloated bureaucracy known for the mediocrity
of its work and the inefficiency of its staff the FAO in recent years has become increasingly
politicised”. In September of the same year, the journal
Society published a series of articles about FAO that included a contribution from the
Heritage Foundation and a response by FAO staff member, Richard Lydiker, who was later
described by the Danish Minister for Agriculture (who had herself resigned from the organization)
as “FAO’s chief spokesman for non-transparency”.Edouard Saouma, the Director-General of FAO, was also
criticized in Graham Hancock’s book Lords of Poverty, published in 1989. Mention is made of Saouma’s “fat pay packet”,
his “autocratic” management style, and his “control over the flow of public information”. Hancock concluded that “One gets the sense
from all of this of an institution that has lost its way, departed from its purely humanitarian
and developmental mandate, become confused about its place in the world – about exactly
what it is doing, and why.” Despite the criticism, Edouard Saouma served
as DG for three consecutive terms from 1976 to 1993. In 1990, the US State Department expressed
the view that “The Food and Agriculture Organization has lagged behind other UN organizations in
responding to US desires for improvements in program and budget processes to enhance
value for money spent”.A year later, in 1991, The Ecologist magazine produced a special
issue under the heading “The UN Food and Agriculture Organization: Promoting World Hunger”. The magazine included articles that questioned
FAO’s policies and practices in forestry, fisheries, aquaculture, and pest control. The articles were written by experts such
as Helena Norberg-Hodge, Vandana Shiva, Edward Goldsmith, Miguel A. Altieri and Barbara Dinham.===2000s===
The 2002 Food Summit organized by FAO was considered to be a waste of time by many of
the official participants. Social movements, farmers, fisherfolk, pastoralists,
indigenous peoples, environmentalists, women’s organizations, trade unions and NGOs expressed
their “collective disappointment in, and rejection of the official Declaration of the … Summit”.In
2004, FAO produced a controversial report called ‘Agricultural Biotechnology: meeting
the needs of the poor?’. The report claimed that “agricultural biotechnology
has real potential as a new tool in the war on hunger”. In response to the report, more than 650 organizations
from around the world signed an open letter in which they said “FAO has broken its commitment
to civil society and peasants’ organisations”. The letter complained that organizations representing
the interests of farmers had not been consulted, that FAO was siding with the biotechnology
industry and, consequently, that the report “raises serious questions about the independence
and intellectual integrity of an important United Nations agency”. The Director General of FAO responded immediately,
stating that decisions on biotechnology must “be taken at the international level by competent
bodies” (in other words, not by non-governmental organizations). He acknowledged, however, that “biotechnology
research is essentially driven by the world’s top ten transnational corporations” and “the
private sector protects its results with patents in order to earn from its investment and it
concentrates on products that have no relevance to food in developing countries”.In May 2006,
a British newspaper published the resignation letter of Louise Fresco, one of eight Assistant
Directors-General of FAO. In her letter, Fresco stated that “the Organization
has been unable to adapt to a new era”, that “our contribution and reputation have declined
steadily” and “its leadership has not proposed bold options to overcome this crisis”.The
32nd Session of FAO’s Committee on World Food Security in 2006, attended by 120 countries,
was widely criticized by non-governmental organizations, but largely ignored by the
mainstream media. Oxfam called for an end to the talk-fests
while Via Campesina issued a statement that criticised FAO’s policy of Food Security.On
18 October 2007, the final report of an Independent External Evaluation of FAO was published. More than 400 pages in length, the evaluation
was the first of its kind in the history of the Organization. It had been commissioned by decision of the
33rd Session of the FAO Conference in November 2005. The report concluded that “The Organization
is today in a financial and programme crisis” but “the problems affecting the Organization
today can all be solved”. Among the problems noted by the IEE were:
“The Organization has been conservative and slow to adapt”; “FAO currently has a heavy
and costly bureaucracy”, and “The capacity of the Organization is declining and many
of its core competencies are now imperilled”. Among the solutions offered were: “A new Strategic
Framework”, “institutional culture change and reform of administrative and management
systems”. In conclusion the IEE stated that, “If FAO
did not exist it would need to be invented”. The official response from FAO came on 29
October 2007. It indicated that management supported the
principal conclusion in the report of the IEE on the need for “reform with growth” so
as to have an FAO “fit for this century”. Meanwhile, hundreds of FAO staff signed a
petition in support of the IEE recommendations, calling for “a radical shift in management
culture and spirit, depoliticization of appointments, restoration of trust between staff and management,
[and] setting strategic priorities of the organization”.In November 2008, a Special
Conference of FAO member countries agreed a US$42.6 million (€38.6 million), three-year
Immediate Plan of Action for “reform with growth”, as recommended by the IEE. Under the plan US$21.8 million would be spent
on overhauling the financial procedures, hierarchies and human resources management.In 2015 FAO
was criticized by The Economist for giving a diploma to Venezuela for being one of 72
countries that had “reached the UN Millennium Development Goal of halving the percentage
of their populations suffering from hunger”. It argued that the positive conclusion reached
by FAO about the performance of a country experiencing major economic difficulties was
based on false statistics and that the percentage of the Venezuelan population suffering from
hunger had actually increased. It quoted FAO as saying that it had no reason
to doubt the Venezuelan statistics. In 2016/17 FAO was heavily criticized for
recruiting Nadine Heredia Alarcón de Humala, wife of the former president of Peru, Ollanta
Humala, to a senior position, at a time when she was being investigated by Peru following
corruption allegations. Critics included Transparency International.At
the end of April 2017, FAO staff unions addressed the organization’s Governing Council to
complain about the practice of issuing short-term contracts that “exploit employees without
providing job security, social security and paid leave”. Other complaints included the increasing centralization
of management processes, despite claims that FAO was being decentralized, and the failure
to follow United Nations recommendations regarding increasing the retirement age. The staff representative also complained about
the high percentage of unfilled positions, increasing the workload for others who were
under pressure to deliver more with less. She also noted that contacts between Management
and the staff bodies were becoming less and less frequent.From 2013, an English-language
newspaper based in Rome, The Italian Insider, made several allegations of nepotism and corruption
within FAO and reported on poor management-staff relations. In June 2018, FAO and four of its officials
took the paper and its editor, John Philips, to court alleging defamation, using a law
dating back to the fascist era in Italy. Reporters Without Borders condemned “the
disproportionate nature of the defamation proceedings”, for which the newspaper was
liable for a fine of up to Euros 100,000 and the editor at least three years in prison. The case was adjourned until January 2019,
when it was further adjourned until May 2019. The January hearing was considered by the
British satirical magazine Private Eye to have been “one of the more surreal courtroom
scenes in modern times”, involving dispute as to the meaning of an English slang word
used by the Insider.===World food crisis===
In May 2008, while talking about the ongoing world food crisis, President Abdoulaye Wade
of Senegal expressed the opinion that FAO was “a waste of money” and that “we must scrap
it”. Wade said that FAO was itself largely to blame
for the price rises, and that the organization’s work was duplicated by other bodies that operated
more efficiently, like the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development. However, this criticism may have had more
to do with personal animosity between the President and the Director-General, himself
a Senegalese, particularly in light of the significant differences in the work carried
out by the two organizations. In 2008, the FAO sponsored the High-Level
Conference on World Food Security. The summit was notable for the lack of agreement
over the issue of biofuels.The response to the summit among non-governmental organizations
was mixed, with Oxfam stating that “the summit in Rome was an important first step in tackling
the food crisis but greater action is now needed”, while Maryam Rahmanian of Iran’s
Centre for Sustainable Development said “We are dismayed and disgusted to see the food
crisis used to further the policies that have led us to the food crisis in the first place”. As with previous food summits, civil society
organizations held a parallel meeting and issued their own declaration to “reject the
corporate industrial and energy-intensive model of production and consumption that is
the basis of continuing crises.”==FAO renewal==
The FAO Conference in November 2007 unanimously welcomed the IEE report and established a
Conference Committee for the Follow-up to the Independent External Evaluation of FAO
(CoC-IEE) to be chaired by the Independent Chairperson of Council, and open to full participation
by all Members. The CoC-IEE was charged to review the IEE
report and its recommendations and develop an Immediate Plan of Action (IPA) for their
implementation.A comprehensive programme of organizational reform and culture change began
in 2008 after the release of an Independent External Evaluation. Headquarters restructuring and delegation
of decision making created a flatter more responsive structure and reduced costs. Modernizing and streamlining of administrative
and operational processes took place. Improved internal teamwork and closer external
partnerships coupled with upgrading of IT infrastructure and greater autonomy of FAO’s
decentralized offices now allows the Organization to respond quickly where needs are greatest. As FAO is primarily a knowledge based organization,
investing in human resources is a top priority. Capacity building including a leadership programme,
employee rotation and a new junior professional programme were established. Individual performance management, an ethics
and ombudsman officer and an independent office of evaluation were designed to improve performance
through learning and strengthened oversight. In January 2012, the Director-General José
Graziano da Silva acted upon the commitment made during his campaign to bring the FAO
reform to a successful and anticipated completion. In addition, the new Director-General shifted
the focus of the reform process to realization of its benefits and mainstreaming the reform
into the work of the Organization.==See also==FAO Country Profiles
Regional Animal Health Center for North Africa World Summit on Food Security

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