FAO 70th Anniversary

Welcome to FAO’s 70th Anniversary portal!

Do you know what FAO has done over the past 70 years to end hunger in the world? Test your knowledge with this short quiz!

Do you want to know more about the story of FAO? We prepared some materials that will take you on a journey through the main events, our leading figures and their endeavors over the past 70 years.
Click here to know more



1995 - 05

Despite everyone’s efforts, the food situation in the world with the number of people hungry was not decreasing, on the contrary, due to natural or man-made disasters, numbers were increasing at an alarming rate. From 1995 until 2005 a number of important initiatives were launched, with one main goal in common: to halve the number of the hungry people in the world by 2015.

World Summit for Food Security

Despite the commitment given twenty years earlier at the FAO conference in 1974 by heads of state to eradicate hunger, due to shocks and crisis, the food situation showed only little signs of improvement.

To re-energise high level support, discussion and action, FAO convened a World Food Summit in November of 1996.

Attended by 186 Heads of State and other high officials, the Summit’s objective was to renew high-level commitment around the world to eradicating hunger and malnutrition and to achieving lasting food security for everyone. This was the first time in history where heads of state and representatives turned their attention to ‘food security’ and how their citizens could access the food they needed in order to live healthy lives. At this Summit, they adopted the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and World Food Summit Plan of Action.

The World Food Summit was not intended to be a pledging conference nor was it aimed at creating new financial mechanisms, institutions or bureaucracy. Countries had full scope as to how they were going to achieve the objectives outlined in the Plan of Action. In 2004, after a series of intergovernmental negotiations mandated by the “World Food Summit: Five years later”, the Council of FAO unanimously adopted the Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Progressive Realization of the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security known as Right to Food Guidelines.

December 2005, Egypt – FAO Telefood project: Free of pesticides crops growing on the outskirts of Fayoum Governorate.
Telefood Campaign

To sustain the momentum created by the 1996 World Food Summit, FAO increased public awareness of global hunger and advocating action by launching a fundraising campaign entitled TeleFood.

Its first year, in 1997, TeleFood reached a global audience of 500 million and up to the year 2001, the campaign collected over US$ 28 million, financing over 1,000 projects in over 100 countries. Telefood had donations sent entirely, without administrative costs, to farmers to help them achieve the capacity to produce more and better food for their families. These projects were grassroots micro-projects where farmers were able to buy tools to grow crops, raise livestock and fish, process food to sell it at a better price. Over the years, the money has gone to seeds and fertilizers, to irrigation pumps, silos or fish smoking ovens as well.

The most successful long-term Telefood event, the Spanish ‘GalaFao’ telethon, raised over US$15 million.

Ensuring Plenty of Fish in the Seas

In 1995 FAO was 50 years old. To celebrate, FAO returned to its birthplace, Quebec city, to hold an International Symposium in the same ballroom in Château Frontenac where FAO was first established. The theme of the symposium was ‘People at the heart of development: Food security through know-how’ and it aimed to reflect intergovernmental, nongovernmental, university and private industry concerns. In these fifty years, country membership to FAO had grown from 34 to 179.

Following the International Symposium, was a special Ministerial Meeting on food security which released the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries in October of the same year. This code provided a framework for national and international efforts to ensure sustainable exploitation of aquatic living resources, and do so in harmony with the environment. However, for a code to be effective, it must be adhered to and a monitoring system be put in place. This is why, four years later, in 1999, FAO built a Fisheries Agreement Register (FARISIS), an easy-to-search computer database on bilateral and multilateral agreements relating to fisheries, that provided up to 34 descriptor fields for each record and containing information on 1,927 agreements dating back to the year 1351.

Controlling the Trade of Pesticides

Pesticides and industrial chemicals that were banned or severely restricted for health or environmental reasons in the developed countries were finding their way, through trade, to developing countries.

In order to limit the severely hazardous pesticide formulations that presented a health risk when farmers from developing countries or countries with economies in transition used them, FAO brokered a legally binding convention to control trade in pesticides and other hazardous chemicals. The convention was adopted on 10 September 1998 in Rotterdam (the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent) and entered into force on 24 February 2004. Its objectives were twofold. Firstly, it sought to promote shared responsibility and cooperative efforts by traders of certain hazardous chemicals in order to protect human health and the environment from potential harm. Secondly, it aimed to contribute to the environmentally sound use of those hazardous chemicals, by facilitating information exchange about their characteristics, by providing for a national decision-making process on their import and export and by disseminating these decisions to Parties.

Sustainable Agriculture by Protecting Plants

Crop selection by farmers and selective plant breeding were in grave danger. Serious threats included pollution, resource degradation, destruction of habitats and alterations of ecosystems. After seven years of negotiation, the FAO Conference in 2001 adopted the legally binding International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, which supported the work of breeders and farmers everywhere. The treaty encouraged sustainable agriculture through the equitable sharing of genetic material and its benefits among plant breeders, farmers and public and private research institutions. Enforced in 2004, treaty was considered vital to permit the continued availability of the plant genetic resources that countries needed to feed their people and for future generations.  

In the same year, FAO facilitated the implementation of the International Year of Rice (IYR). During 2004, through a series of initiatives in improved production and access to rice the international year was promoted to highlight the strategic role rice plays in local economies both in Asia and Africa.