AG department looks back at some 2014 highlights

Developing solutions for sustainable agriculture and food systems

Across the Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department in 2014, many major events and accomplishments contributed to the search for sustainable agriculture and food systems.

It was the year of agroecology, an emerging set of practices that seeks to apply ecological concepts and principles to the design and management of sustainable food systems. In September, an international symposium on the subject was held at headquarters, bringing together 400 participants including 50 of the leading thinkers in the science.

An outstanding example of how the department is leveraging a great number of outside actors towards a common goal is the Save Food: Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction programme, which also had a growth year.

The 24th session of the Committee on Agriculture in September, endorsed a number of important programmes, including a global campaign of eradication by 2030 of the deadly disease of sheep and goats called Peste des Petits Ruminants or PPR, jointly led by FAO and OIE and based on the successful eradication campaign against rinderpest.

The department’s Vienna-based joint division with IAEA on nuclear techniques in agriculture celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014 and received a Superior Achievement Award of IAEA for the fourth consecutive year.

In Madagascar, the department provided comprehensive assistance to contain a huge locust plague that was threatening 13 million people with hunger. FAO’s work is not yet finished but it was a big year for emergency response.  

The first Working Meeting of the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture, which was launched at the UNSG’s Climate Summit in New York in September, met at headquarters in December. The Alliance has 71 registered members of national governments, international and regional organizations, private sector, CSOs and NGOs, and research organizations.

Some aspects of the department

It was a year of staff working together increasingly across departments and disciplines in the context of FAO’s new Strategic Framework.

The department is in a unique position to address transboundary threats to crops and livestock thanks to its specialized expertise and to our joint work with the emergency division under the Food Chain Crisis management coordination.

Building on its globally recognized leadership on farming systems, food standards and food marketing, it establishing itself as a global centre of excellence for sustainable food value chain development.

The department is an unparalleled information source and institutional memory on post-harvest issues.

It plays a unique role in the global governance of food safety and quality and has a singular ability to advise on food safety management at all stages of the food chain.

Two of the three benchmark standard setting organizations in the WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) are hosted in the department: Codex and International Plant Protection Convention.

FAO is a world leader in the field of animal and plant genetic resources and biodiversity for food and agriculture. The department assists FAO’s member countries to develop effective policies, national strategies, action plans and capacities for an integrated approach to the conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources for food and agriculture.

The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture  is gaining recognition through a new package for benefit sharing, a new initiative on global information systems.