FAO Liaison Office in Brussels

European Commission

On 26 November 1991, the European Union (EU) became the 161st Member of  FAO. The accession marked an institutional breakthrough, as it was the first time that the EU became a member of a United Nations Agency, and the first time FAO welcomed a Member Organization. 2021 marks the 30th anniversary of this long-standing and fruitful cooperation. 

Today the EU and FAO are engaged in a Strategic Dialogue with a strengthened focus on the shared goal of eradicating poverty, hunger and malnutrition and jointly advancing the transformation towards more sustainable, efficient and inclusive food systems. The EU’s ongoing support for multilateralism and the United Nations is as essential to achieving the 2030 Agenda as to addressing the immense challenges that environmental degradation, climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, conflict and other global threats pose today. The EU has been and remains FAO’s most strategic political, technical and financial partner. For instance, only for the period 2018-2020, the contributions of the European Union have reached USD 635 million to support projects and initiatives all around the globe, contributing to humanity’s and the planet’s well-being.

Strategic engagement with the European Commission

The partnership and strategic relations between the EU and FAO are discussed and recalibrated every 2-4 years in the format of a Strategic Dialogue enabling both partners to strengthen their capacity to bring timely, coherent, and effective responses to global challenges and policy developments within both organizations.

2021 is a strategic year for the EU-FAO partnership. The 2021 edition of the EU-FAO Strategic Dialogue had the overarching objective of jointly working towards more resilient, sustainable, green and inclusive agrifood systems. This partnership is driven by an ambitious global agenda marked by important international events, such as the United Nations Food Systems Summit and Pre-Summit, the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26), the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP 15) and many more. In addition, the European Green Deal and its key Strategies such as the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies together with the new FAO Strategic Framework 2022-2031 strongly echo the global call for sustainability in its three dimensions – social, economic and environmental, - and as such, reflect a full convergence and alignment of the cooperation priorities to achieve a world free from hunger and malnutrition while leaving no one behind. 

The following priorities have been identified for strategic cooperation between FAO and the EU:

Food systems and One Health

Food systems and One Health

The health of humans, animals and the environment are inextricably linked. To ensure sustainable production and consumption, as well as environmental stewardship, the EU and FAO will advance a One Health approach across the food systems to combat Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), prevent the spread of zoonotic and transboundary diseases, ensure food safety, reduce the use pesticides, food loss and waste, as well as ensure an enabling food system regulatory framework. Working jointly at the country and global level, also involving partners to translate this One Health joint agenda into action, will drive the partnership in this area.

Climate change, biodiversity and natural resources

Climate change, biodiversity and natural resources

Sustainable food systems imply coordinated transformative work to address climate change and biodiversity loss, halt deforestation, restore and protect global ecosystems while advancing innovative solutions to sustainably manage natural resources. Hence, the EU and FAO will closely work on the green and blue transformation of the terrestrial and aquatic food systems to reduce their environmental footprint and achieve their sustainable development in its three dimensions – economic, social and environmental.  

Food crises, food security and resilient livelihoods

Food crises, food security and resilient livelihoods

The EU and FAO will step up their support at regional and country level to build resilient and inclusive food systems in fragile contexts, harness the game-changing potential of the Global Network Against Food Crises and improve coordination along the humanitarian-development-peace nexus.

Sustainable agrifood value chain investments and policies

Sustainable agrifood value chain investments and policies

Sustainable and inclusive agrifood value chains at the global and local level will be at the core of the EU-FAO collaboration that will aim to focus on creating an enabling environment by putting the well-being of farmers, in particular women and youth, and the health of the planet at the center of the joint efforts. Policy dialogue and support, normative work, investment incentives, public-private partnerships, due diligence and traceability across agri-food value chains will be some key elements of the EU-FAO collaboration in this sense.

Food system transformation through digitalization

Food system transformation through digitalization

To achieve an impact at scale, digitalization and innovative disruptive solutions will drive the EU-FAO collaboration by jointly sustaining foundational data services needed for the 2030 Agenda. Partners will support digital public goods that aim to increase resilience and adaptability of rural communities, increase food security, bridge digital divide, support data driven policymaking, support digital literacy, short and transparent value chains, as well as private sector engagement.


A high-level session on 6 May 2021 launched the discussions about the future cooperation priorities with the participation of FAO Director-General QU Dongyu, European Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides and European Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski,  Chair of the Scientific Committee of the UN Food Systems Summit, as well as Professor Von Braun, and other FAO and EU high-level officials.

The launch was followed by five thematic sessions touching upon EU-FAO priority areas for cooperation and a wrap-up session. Five technical webinars were also held in February 2021, identifying topics of common interest and recent developments within both organizations.

The 2021 edition of the EU-FAO Strategic Dialogue brought together key EU and FAO representatives. Its next edition is planned for 2024.