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Sustaining peace

Sustaining peace

A focus on sustaining peace

FAO’s Corporate Framework to Support Sustainable Peace in the Context of Agenda 2030, commits the Organization to a more deliberate and transformative impact on sustaining peace. As part of a system-wide recommitment to promote peace and prevent conflict, this is in line with the Secretary-General’s request for the whole UN to regard sustaining peace as an important goal to which their work can contribute, and to integrate that approach into their strategic plans and thinking.

The Global Network against Food Crises has identified conflict as a major driver of food crises, followed by weather extremes and economic shocks. Armed conflict is also one of the primary drivers of forced displacement, which is another factor contributing to heightened food insecurity.

Some local conflict drivers relate to FAO’s work, including those that involve competition over land, water and other natural resources. Food insecurity, climate variability and environmental mismanagement can also establish the conditions whereby disputes, tensions and conflict are more likely to occur. Conversely, opportunities exist to contribute to conflict prevention and sustaining peace, by supporting food security and resilient agricultural livelihoods, in order to address not only the symptoms but also the root causes of conflict.

The Conflict and Peace Unit (CPU) and technical colleagues in sub-regional resilience hubs, support country offices on forced displacement programming, context analysis, conflict sensitivity and contributions to sustaining peace.

Forced displacement

Rural areas also host a significant portion of the world’s forcibly displaced. Similarly, many of the forcibly displaced come from rural areas, where agriculture was their predominant source of livelihood. Forced displacement is an increasingly protracted phenomenon and strongly influences local dynamics and community relationships, particularly when it affects access to natural resources, services, and local markets.

Interventions in such contexts need to be conflict-sensitive and work across the Humanitarian-Development-Peace (HDP) nexus, in order to be capable of achieving durable solutions to forced displacement. By combining humanitarian assistance with resilience-building, FAO works with displaced people and host communities to protect and rebuild their livelihoods, enhance their self-reliance and foster inclusion and social cohesion at the community level. In 2020, approximately a third of all FAO’s Emergency and Resilience interventions were focused on forced displacement. The CPU works to protect and rebuild the livelihoods of displaced populations and host communities, enhancing their self-reliance and fostering inclusion and social cohesion at the community level. This is part of the CPU’s wider work on promoting and supporting conflict-sensitive programming, and identifying and operationalizing specific pathways through which FAO can contribute to sustaining peace. 

Context Analysis

In fragile and conflict-affected contexts, understanding the local context, including conflict and peace dynamics, is foundational to achieving objectives on food security and improved agricultural production, for example. Context analyses help ensure interventions are conflict-sensitive, inform strategic decision-making, but also identify where interventions can help strengthen and consolidate local peace – a crucial element for humanitarian, development and peace approaches and investments. Context analyses have recently been completed in ten contexts, including Somalia, the Philippines and the Sahel. 


The foundation for good programming in fragile and conflict-affected contexts is to understand contextual dynamics and how they could interact with an intervention, and vice-versa. This is what conflict-sensitive programming means. Contextual understanding ensures that FAO interventions (at a minimum) do no harm, but also helps identify where they may contribute to sustaining peace. The CPU has supported capacity development in twenty FAO country offices to date, including through a virtual version of the conflict-sensitivity Programme Clinic, to address constraints imposed by COVID-19. This work underpins development of conflict-sensitive programme recommendations, as well as the design of monitoring and evaluation frameworks to measure the degree and kind of impact of FAO’s contributions to sustaining peace.

Contributions to sustaining peace 

FAO’s contributions to sustaining peace have become more prominent in recent years as the number of Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) projects has increased and external stakeholders recognise the relevance of FAO’s mandate in addressing the drivers of disputes, tensions and conflicts, particularly in rural contexts.

The CPU provides technical support and has developed internal guidance to support decentralized offices develop interventions with more explicit contributions to peace.

Strategic partnerships

Since 2018 FAO has partnered with Interpeace to develop specific tools, guidance and training to enable more systematic and robust context analyses and conflict-sensitive programming, as well as distilling typical pathways through which FAO programmes contribute to local peace impacts. This strategic partnership brings together FAO’s technical and programmatic knowledge with Interpeace’s 25 years of experience in peacebuilding. Similarly, research partnerships have been developed with academic institutions, such as Uppsala University and the Peace Research Institute Oslo to explore the linkages between resilience, peace and conflict. 

Looking ahead

FAO is equipping itself with the capacities, tools and mechanisms to increase its contributions to sustaining peace. The aim is to be able to understand more deeply to what extent it can play a meaningful role in contributing to sustaining peace (including through adapted and appropriate MEAL frameworks), and act upon this understanding by becoming more intentional, evidence-based, realistic and pragmatic. An important aspect to this includes an increased attention to climate security – recognising that climate change can severely affect food and livelihood security, lead to forced displacement and limit possibilities of voluntary return. Climate change is a threat multiplier to peace and security, with the potential to exacerbate a wide range of existing and often interacting drivers of conflict and fragility.

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