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Social Policies and Rural Institutions (ESP)

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The Social Policies and Rural Institutions Division (ESP) coordinates FAO’s work on various social dimensions including on rural institutions, services, social protection, gender equality, decent rural employment and the right to food.

ESP works with member countries and other partners through a rights-based approach, to empower people by enhancing social protection systems and extending their coverage to rural areas, diversifying rural employment opportunities, reducing gender gaps and other social inequalities, strengthening producers’ organizations and improving the rural poor’s access to productive resources and financial services.

ESP delivers under all five of FAO’s Strategic Programmes to achieve FAO's goals to eradicate hunger, malnutrition and poverty and the sustainable management of natural resources.


The structure of the Division is composed by the Office of the Director and Deputy Director; the Social Protection (SOCPRO) Team; the Gender Team; the Decent Rural Employment (DRE) Team; the Rural Institutions, Services and Empowerment (RISE) Team and the Right to Food Team. See ESP organigramme.

Office of the Director and Deputy Director
coordinates and leads the work of the ESP Division, ensuring a direct link with the Economic and Social Department (ES). It also provides administrative oversight of the Division's work.

Contact: Ms Brave Ndisale

Social Protection (SOCPRO) Team
contributes to strengthen social protection linkages with agriculture, food security and nutrition, and resilience. It supports countries in extending social protection to rural areas and it produces relevant knowledge based on evidence generated by the From Protection to Production (PtoP) project. 

Contact: Ms Natalia Winder Rossi

Gender Team
is responsible for strengthening the capacity of governments and other stakeholders to formulate gender-sensitive agricultural and rural development policies and programmes. The team also coordinates FAO's cross-cutting theme to empower women and
reduce gender inequalities in agriculture and rural development.

Contact: Ms Regina Laub
              Ms Susan Kaaria

Decent Rural Employment (DRE) Team
works with governments and partners to create decent farm and non-farm employment, providing technical support and informing policy dialogue. In particular, the Team promotes innovative approaches at global, regional and country level to address key issues such as youth employment, child labour, women and decent work, migration, green jobs, working conditions and availability of data and evidence. 

Contact: Mr Peter Wobst

Rural Institutions, Services and Empowerment (RISE) Team 
works to promote inclusive rural institutions and effective service systems to create an enabling environment for rural people to actively participate and seize opportunities to improve their livelihoods in a sustainable manner. The Team supports countries in applying territorial approaches in policy making and development planning; promoting pluralistic rural services and financial systems; strengthening producer organizations and empowering rural women and men through gender-sensitive participatory and community-driven approaches to policies and programs.

Contact: Mr Vito Cistulli

Right to Food Team
in collaboration with FAO technical units and decentralized offices, supports Governments, Parliamentarians, CSOs and other stakeholders with the implementation of the Right to Food Guidelines. As part of FAO’s contribution to the human rights mandate of the UN, the Right to Food Team provides technical and capacity-building assistance in the areas of assessment, institutional analysis, policy dialogue and monitoring; all of which are relevant for the right to adequate food.

Contact: Mr Juan Carlos García y Cebolla