FAO and EU Partnership


About the Programme

In the last 70 years, our food systems have been transformed to reduce undernourishment and food insecurity. These changes have indeed contributed to a substantial decrease in the global hunger. However, despite the efforts, almost 690 million people are still undernourished today. Those transformations prompted progress, but it is also true that they came with a price tag on both the planet and global health and nutrition. Natural resources depletion, loss of biodiversity and climate change have come along with a surge in obesity and non-communicable diseases worldwide.

There is a common ground to face all these challenges: agriculture. Agriculture and food systems, which represent how our food is produced and consumed, could be transformed to work for nutrition, health and the environment, but also for job creation, economic growth, stability and welfare.

To make it happen, it is more important than ever to create a policy and institutional environment that attracts both public and private investments.

The Food and Nutrition Security Impact, Resilience, Sustainability and Transformation programme (FIRST) is a partnership between the European Union (EU) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) that has been working hand in hand with governments on this domain: setting the right conditions to promote both public and private investments in sustainable agriculture and creating an enabling environment for these investments to contribute to achieving food security and nutrition. 

FIRST supports governments in these efforts through:



FIRST has deployed a network of policy officers who, hand in hand with the governments, assess the impact of policies, plans and programmes on food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture. The goal of these assessments is to identify the main obstacles that prevent efforts from achieving impact and obtaining evidence to inform and improve policy design.

West Africa

West Africa

In West Africa, for example, FIRST has assisted member countries of the Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS) in reviewing their fisheries policies and discovering why the fisheries and aquaculture sector in the region has not unlocked its potential to contribute to food security and nutrition, job creation or income generation. Similar assessments undertaken in other countries have informed decision-making and policy design. Taking stock of the experience acquired since its inception FIRST has also carried out comprehensive diagnostics on the situation of food security and nutrition in over 23 countries, which allow governments to assess the effectiveness of their efforts in this domain and to identify common trends and challenges.



FIRST provides countries the assistance they need to improve their capacities in policy and program design and implementation, both at national and subnational level. It also assists them in identifying priorities for budget allocation, investments and interventions.



In Myanmar, where robust rice production was a priority, the country was not making sufficient progress in improving nutrition. Cultivating diverse and varied crops was extremely difficult due to rice-centered policies and legislation. With the assistance of FIRST, the Government addressed the link between land use planning and nutrition-sensitive agriculture. Legislative changes regarding land use now support and allow for crop diversification and encourage farmers and other actors to invest in different farming activities, from fruits production to aquaculture. This transformation is setting the ground for Burmese families to access a wider range of nutritious foods and thus configure healthier diets. They will also have access to financial services that allow them to engage in activities that are more productive. 


FIRST supports the strengthening of governance and coordination mechanisms to make them inclusive and open to all ranges of stakeholders, while making sure that the most vulnerable are represented.



In Chad, for example, FIRST has organized policy dialogue seminars involving relevant ministries’ staff, non-state actors (civil society and the private sector), as well as FAO and the EU. Participants learned on the importance of multi-stakeholders coordination and policy dialogue and discussed different issues, such as the need to fund an effective and efficient information system for the prevention and management of food crises. 


Taking stock of the lessons learnt and sharing knowledge is essential for improving effectiveness. On the one hand, FIRST assists countries in establishing monitoring and evaluation mechanisms that allow for effectiveness assessments, accountability and evidence-based decision-making. On the other hand, the FIRST network also works as a one-stop-shop for experience and knowledge sharing among countries.

Lao People´s Democratic Republic

Lao People´s Democratic Republic

FIRST supported Lao People´s Democratic Republic in setting up a data sharing system that allows nutrition coordination mechanisms in 11 provinces and 82 districts to apply evidence-based analysis for planning, reporting and coordination. In Kenya, government officials had the chance to participate in a study tour to Ecuador, Indonesia, Malaysia and Peru and exchange their experience with other colleagues. The Policy Officers network participates in different events and conferences to share their knowledge and the program holds different workshops for them to discuss peer-to-peer.