FAO Liaison Office in Brussels

EU and FAO: Strengthening a long-standing partnership through a renewed strategic dialogue


Stepping up their longstanding partnership, the European Union and FAO kicked off technical preparatory meetings in February for this year’s Strategic Dialogue. The Strategic Dialogue is a key process that enables both institutions to intensify their collaboration and partnership by reflecting on short- and mid-term cooperation priorities. It provides the EU and FAO with the opportunity to recalibrate their working relationship in view of global developments and policy changes.

Since the European Union became a member of FAO in 1991, the EU and FAO have partnered in nearly all areas of FAO’s mandate at the global, regional, and country levels.

The Strategic Dialogue began in February with four technical webinars involving EU-FAO experts as well as EU Delegations from around the world. These technical sessions are designed to touch upon topics of common interest and to present recent development within the EU and FAO.

One Health

The first technical session, on 19 February, focused on the One Health approach. It looked at the need for an integrated approach that recognizes the fundamental links between the health of animals, people, plants and the environment. Opening remarks were given by FAO Deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semedo and the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Partnerships (DG INTPA) Deputy Director-General Marjeta Jager.

Jager and Semedo highlighted the timeliness of this session in light of the urgent need to scale up and coordinate action at the global, regional and country levels to prevent future pandemics, address Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), and pay due attention to food safety.

FAO Chief Veterinary Officer Keith Sumption and FAO Senior Food Safety Officer, Markus Lipp provided additional insights. They stressed the importance of the One Health approach, and its interfaces with the environment and human populations. They also underscored the essential value of coordination and partnership with governments, regional bodies, non-state actors, the private sector and also, specialized agencies (WHO, OIE, UNEP), in order to achieve tangible results. The audience took part in an interactive round of questions and answers with the FAO experts. The session will inform the EU-FAO Strategic Dialogue thematic discussions on One Health.

The recording of the session is available here.

The presentation of Keith Sumption is available here.

The presentation of Markus Lipp is available here.

Green recovery and ecosystem restoration

A 24 February dialogue focused on FAO’s work on green recovery and ecosystem restoration, led by FAO Deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semedo and European Commission's Directorate-General for International Partnerships (DG INTPA) Head of Unit for Environment, Sustainable Natural Resources, Chantal Marijnissen. Both stressed the impactful collaboration of the EU and FAO at the global and regional levels, highlighted examples, and pointed out areas that will be important for cooperation in the coming years.

The Director of the FAO Office of Climate Change, Biodiversity and Environment Eduardo Mansur, together with the Director of the FAO Forestry Division, Mette Wilkie, and the Director of the FAO Fisheries Division Manuel Barange, briefed participants on FAO’s vision, work, strategies and current initiatives in the area of green and blue recovery and ecosystem restoration, targeting transformation of agri-food systems and the restoration of the health and productivity of degraded terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Work in these areas is one of the keys to “building forward” better and jointly addressing the climate, biodiversity and economic crises.

FAO Assistant Directors-General and Regional Representatives Abebe Haile-Gabriel of the FAO Regional Office for Africa; Julio Berdegué of the FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean; Vladimir Olegovich Rakhmanin of the FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia; Jong-Jin Kim of the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, and the acting Regional Representative Serge Nakouzi of the FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa, also participated in the event. They offered concrete examples of successful EU-FAO cooperation on the ground on green recovery, climate change adaptation and mitigation, halting deforestation and biodiversity protection, as well as possible areas for furthering joint work in the different regions.

The recording of the session is available here

The presentation is available here.

FAO Strategic Framework 2022-2031

The third technical webinar on 25 February presented the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-2031, drawing a high number of participants from both FAO and the EU. The event was introduced by FAO Deputy Director-General Laurent Thomas and Ambassador and Permanent Representative to FAO of the Delegation of the European Union to the Holy See, Order of Malta, UN Agencies in Rome and to the Republic of San Marino Alexandra Valkenburg-Roelofs. Both stressed the strong EU-FAO partnership over the last 30 years and agreed that the new FAO Strategic Framework together with the European Green Deal and its key strategies are essential elements in achieving the Agenda 2030 and the SDGs, as well as the sustainable transformation of our agri-food systems.

Director of the FAO Office of Strategy, Planning and Resources Management, Beth Crawford presented the framework, which will guide FAO’s work over the next ten years. Crawford stressed that the new Strategic Framework is built around an agri-food systems approach and embraces a reinvigorated business model designed to allow FAO to become more flexible and responsive to better support transformational change for SDGs achievement at the country level. The newly reviewed version of the FAO Strategic Framework is expected to officially be published end of March.

The recording of the session is available here

The presentation of the session is available here.

Digital data and agri-food system transformation

A day after on 26 February, FAO Chief Economist Máximo Torero Cullen and Directorate-General for International Partnerships (DG INTPA) Head of Unit for Science, Innovation and Digitalisation, Thierry Barbé introduced participants to FAO’s vision on Digital data for agri-food system transformation. FAO Chief Economist pointed out the timeliness of this discussion in view of the urgent need to transform agri-food systems. He spoke about the opportunities and challenges of digitalization, noting, in particular, its potential to accelerate economic growth. At the same time, he acknowledged that this is a true challenge for the agricultural sector, which faces an enormous digital divide. While Thierry Barbé stressed that access to data and the ability to use it are essential for innovation and growth and the importance for people, businesses and organizations to be empowered to make better decisions based on insights from non-personal data, which should be available to all.

Director of the FAO Statistics Division, José Rosero Moncayo focused on FAO’s work on digital data, together with Information Technology Officer Karl Morteo; Senior Land and Water Officer Jippe Hoogeveen; Senior Agricultural Officer Keith Cressman, and Senior Economist George Rapsomanikis. They focused on the ways in which digital data can boost sustainable agri-food system transformation and highlighted the most prominent tools, such as the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES), Geospatial Platform; Digital Services Portfolio; Data LabWater Productivity; Locust Response; International Platform for Digital Food and Agriculture and Digital Agriculture in the new FAO Strategic Framework outline.

The session was concluded by Mr. Barbé and the EU Directorate-General for International Partnerships (DG INTPA) Deputy Head of Unit for Sustainable Agri-Food Systemssystems and Fisheries, Willem Olthof, who stressed the importance of creating a conducive environment for digitalization in agriculture.

The recording of this session is available here.

The presentation is available here.

Farm to Fork under the European Green Deal

Continuing the EU-FAO Strategic Dialogue technical sessions, the final EU-FAO technical webinar presented the EU's Farm to Fork Strategy, one of the key initiatives within the European Green Deal. The EU Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) Director for Food Sustainability and International Relations, Nathalie Chaze, and FAO Deputy Director General, Beth Bechdol, opened the discussion. Both stressed the need for a holistic approach to achieve more sustainable, greener and just agri-food systems and their central role in delivering on all the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Head of Unit for the Farm to Fork Strategy of the DG SANTE, Alexandra Nikolakopoulou, and EU Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI) Head of Unit for Policy Perspectives, Gijsbertus Schilthuis, gave an insightful overview of the EU’s vision for the Farm to Fork Strategy, as well as its main foreseen initiatives, to promote the transition towards more sustainable agri-food systems in Europe and worldwide. Protecting biodiversity, encouraging more sustainable farming practices, reducing deforestation, adopting global standards to ensure human, animal and plant health and improving food security and nutrition outcomes as well as the role of partnerships and collaboration were mentioned as important factors to achieve healthier and more environmentally friendly food systems.

The event was wrapped up by DG AGRI Head of Unit for Global Issues and Relations with Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP), Willi Schulz-Greve, who stressed the EU's determination to transform the Farm to Fork commitments into reality on the ground both inside and outside of the European Union by working together with institutions, such as FAO.

The recording of this session is available here.

The presentation is available here.

Way forward

The preparations for the EU-FAO Strategic Dialogue will continue throughout March and April and will culminate with a high-level dialogue session followed by a series of thematic dialogues.