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Standards

FAO develops, implements and promotes international statistical standards, methodological guidelines and tools in collecting, analysing and disseminating data. In order to promote international consistency and comparability of statistics across countries, it provides national statistical offices with internationally recognized definitions, concepts and classifications. 

  • The classification of agricultural commodities currently used by FAO is the FAOSTAT Commodity List (FCL)
  • The Central Product Classification (CPC) is developed and maintained by the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD). Its main purpose is to provide a framework for facilitating the international comparison of product statistics and to serve as a guide for developing or revising existing classification schemes, in order to make them compatible with international standards.
  • The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS) is the trade classification most widely used in the world. Commodities are generally classified according to raw or basic material, to the degree of processing, the use or function and economic activities. HS is a detailed listing of commodities rather than a proper classification for the purpose of organizing official statistics.
  • FAOSTAT commodity research tool, developed by the FAO Statistics Division, allows users to search in the FAOSTAT commodity list definitions and correspondences to CPC and HS. It is also possible to access international and regional classifications and correspondence tables between the FCL and some agriculture product lists used at country level.
  • Within the framework of the UN-Water FAO AQUASTAT leads harmonization exercises with water data partners in order to arrive at a greater understanding of the similarities and differences between agencies. At present, a systematic harmonization mechanism through which target organizations can improve water data quality by pooling resources is being developed.
  • The System of Environmental-Economic Accounting 2012: Central Framework (SEEA-CF), was adopted as the first international standard for environmental-economic accounting by the United Nations Statistical Commission at its 43rd Session in 2012. It fits into the System of National Accounts (SNA), which is an integrated system of macroeconomic accounting that most countries in the world follow. SEEA integrates the impact of the environment into the economy. Adopting an accounting approach in agriculture leads to a set of standard classifications from which a consistent and comprehensive data are compiled and comparable across countries and regions.
  • The System of Environmental-Economic Accounting for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (SEEA-AFF) is a statistical framework developed by FAO in collaboration with UNSD, World Bank, OECD and EUROSTAT. It extends the SEEA Central Framework to agriculture, forestry and fisheries economic activities, facilitating analysis of food and agriculture in relation to their use of, and impact on natural resources. It was first endorsed by the UN Statistical Commission in 2016 as an internationally agreed methodological document. The final SEEA AFF White Cover version was presented in 2018 to the UNSC, which welcomed its release, recommending country implementation.

  • FAO has also been involved in the preparation of the United Nations SEEA-Water led by the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) in collaboration with the London Group on Environmental Accounting (in particular its subgroup on Water Accounting). The Natural Resources Management and Environment Department was particularly engaged in the preparation of the International Recommendations for Water Statistics (IRWS) which were finalized in 2010 and adopted by UNSC.
  • The International Standard Statistical Classification of Aquatic Animals and Plants (ISSCAAP) is used for the collection of capture and aquaculture fisheries statistics. ISSCAAP is a nomenclature developed by FAO to classify commercial species into 50 groups and 9 divisions on the basis of their taxonomic, ecological and economic characteristics. The International Standard Statistical Classification of Fisheries Commodities (ISSCFC) has been developed by FAO for the collection of commodities statistics. ISSCFC is linked with the HS, SITC, ISSCAAP classifications. 
  • Codes included in the ASFIS List of species for fishery statistics purposes are widely used for the exchange of data on capture and aquaculture production between national correspondents and international organizations and it also been adopted for classificatory purposes by many institutions. It includes almost 12,500 records. 
  • The Coordinating Working Party on Fishery Statistics (CWP) provides a mechanism to set up standards relating with fishery and aquaculture statistics and to coordinate fishery statistical programmes of regional fishery bodies and other inter-governmental organizations with a remit for fishery statistics.