“The private sector has an important contribution to make to FAO. But this contribution has not always been recognized or valued. This is beginning to change”
FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva.
In recent decades, the governance of food and agriculture has been increasingly transformed on a global level by new technological, knowledge-based, financial and managerial resources and innovation. Increasingly, the private sector has been instrumental in the development and often at the origin of these transformations.
Effective engagement with the private sector can help the fight against hunger and malnutrition by enhancing FAO’s work in agriculture, fishery, forestry, natural resource management, and the food value chain from farmer to consumer.
How does FAO define the “private sector”?
The private sector includes enterprises, companies or businesses, regardless of size, ownership and structure. It covers all sectors of the food, agriculture, forestry and fisheries systems from production to consumption, including associated services: financing, investment, insurance, marketing and trade.
FAO considers the private sector as encompassing a broad array of entities that range from farmer organizations, cooperatives and SMEs to the largest international corporations. This also includes private financial institutions; industry and trade associations; and consortia that represent private sector interests. Academia, research institutions and philanthropic foundations are not included in this definition.
Why should the private sector partner with FAO?
For private sector entities, the engagement with FAO could generate:
- Increased opportunity to be heard in international policy development and standard setting processes for food and agriculture;
- Improved alignment of national requirements with international standards, which would enhance the ease of doing business;
- Enhanced dialogue with governments and opportunity to contribute to the development of national planning frameworks;
- An environment that is more conducive to private sector responsible and productive investments; and
- Participation in processes to establish codes of conduct for responsible business practices, and promote creation of level-playing fields that would enable fairer competition and a more stable business environment.
What is FAO’s criterion for partnering with the private sector?
Adopting an open approach to private sector partnerships requires adequate mechanisms to identify and manage potential risks that could affect FAO’s intergovernmental character and its independence and impartiality. Such risks include: conflict of interest; undue influence on standard setting; and unfair advantage to specific companies.
FAO’s current risk assessment consists of four distinct steps:
- Preliminary Screening by the Private Sector Partnerships Team;
- Review of the partnerships proposal by the Sub-Committee of Financial and other Agreements;
- Final endorsement of partnership proposals by the Partnerships Committee; and
- Monitoring and reporting by the Private Sector Partnerships Team with FAO focal points for partnerships.
How does FAO engage with the private sector?
FAO recognizes two main categories of contributions from the private sector: non-financial and financial contributions.
a) Mutual collaboration: these partnerships involve active collaboration of the private sector with FAO in support of its work and in line with government priorities. Such collaboration could concern any of the areas of engagement listed below and may draw on mutual know-how, expertise and other support.
b) Sponsorships: these exclusively involve financial contributions from the private sector in support of FAO’s programmes through identified areas of engagement. Private sector contributions can be targeted towards specific projects and programmes.
Specific areas of engagement through which the private sector could contribute to delivery on FAO Strategic Objectives, include:
- Development and Technical Programmes;
- Policy Dialogue;
- Norms and Standard Setting;
- Advocacy and Communication;
- Knowledge Management and Dissemination; and
- Mobilization of Resources.
Private Sector Tools
- The FAO Strategy for Partnerships with the Private Sector informs FAO’s Members, staff, and the private sector about FAO’s strategic approach and framework for partnerships with the private sector.
- The Principles and Guidelines for FAO Cooperation with the Private Sector provides a general framework to expand and intensify the organization’s cooperation with the private sector, outlining core principles and guidelines.
- Best Practices, Publications, Case Studies and Other Reports: FAO produced a series of country case studies on Agribusiness public-private partnerships which a result of appraisals of PPPs initiated in 2010 and implemented in 15 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
- The Guidelines on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Business Sector aim to facilitate the formulation and implementation of partnerships between the United Nations and the Business Sector in a manner that ensures the integrity and independence of the UN.