Rural Transformation and Gender Equality Division

©FAO/A. K. Kimoto

The Rural Transformation and Gender Equality Division (ESP) coordinates FAO’s work on various social dimensions including on rural institutions, services, social protection, gender equality, decent rural employment, tenure rights and the right to food.

ESP works with member countries and other partners through a rights-based approach, to empower people by enhancing social protection systems and extending their coverage to rural areas, diversifying rural employment opportunities, reducing gender gaps and other social inequalities, strengthening producers’ organizations and improving governance of tenure and the rural poor’s access to natural and productive resources and financial services.

ESP delivers under all four of the “Better” principles (Better Production, Better Nutrition, Better Environment and Better Life) to achieve FAO's goals to eradicate hunger, malnutrition and poverty and the sustainable management of natural resources.

Structure of the Division

The ESP Division is composed by the Office of the Director; the Social Protection (SOCPRO) Team; the Gender Team; the Decent Rural Employment (DRE) Team; the Rural Institutions, Services and Empowerment (RISE) Team; the Land Tenure Team; the Right to Food Team; and the Socio-Economic Research and Analysis (SERA) Team.

The Office of the Director coordinates and leads the work of the ESP Division. The Office of the Director ensures that social issues are well integrated into the main areas of work of FAO, including food security, nutrition, poverty reduction, sustainable agriculture, fisheries and forestry and rural development. The Office of the Director provides administrative oversight of the Division's work and ensures a direct link with the Economic and Social Development stream (ES).

Contact: Mr Benjamin Davis, Ms Lauren Philips

The Social Protection (SOCPRO) Team strengthens the capacities of national social protection systems to expand coverage of adequate social protection, in particular in rural areas, by generating evidence and advising on the design of policies and programmes and delivery mechanisms so that these are adapted to the specificities of rural populations. In doing so, SOCPRO seeks to increase the positive impacts of social protection on gender equality, climate change adaptation and mitigation, economic inclusion, improved nutrition, and resilience among rural households. 

Contact: Mr Alejandro Grinspun, Mr Marco Knowles


The Decent Rural Employment (DRE) Team fosters the generation of decent employment opportunities in agri-food systems. The team contributes to global, regional and national processes related to key issues such as youth employment, rural migration, child labour, green jobs, working conditions, and availability of data and evidence. Through advocacy, capacity building, and technical cooperation, it proactively supports governments in the formulation of inclusive decent rural employment policies, strategies and programmes, targeting vulnerable groups, particularly youth, migrants, women and children. To achieve this, the team partners with other UN agencies, civil society, producers’ organizations, academia and the private sector. 

Contact: Mr Peter Wobst

The Gender Team is responsible for strengthening the capacity of governments and other stakeholders to formulate gender-responsive agricultural and rural development policies and programmes. The team also coordinates the implementation of FAO’s Policy on Gender Equality (2020-2030) and the work of the cross-cutting theme to empower women and reduce gender inequalities in agriculture, food security and nutrition.

Contact: Ms Tacko Ndiaye, Ms Clara Park

The Rural Institutions, Services and Empowerment (RISE) Team 
works to strengthen rural institutions and organizations, facilitating the socio-economic inclusion and empowerment of people engaged in agriculture, including small-scale producers, rural women, youth, indigenous peoples and poor rural communities, enabling the collective actions to transform food systems and the realization of rural prosperity. RISE provides policy advice and technical assistance, supports stakeholders’ capacity development and works on generating knowledge, undertaking advocacy and establishing partnerships through four work areas: community engagement for empowerment; inclusive rural finance; rural services; and territorial development.

Contact: Mr Adriano Campolina

The Land Tenure Team 
supports initiatives in over 60 countries in collaboration with FAO technical units, governments and partners to improve tenure rights through the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT) and the support to improve land administration . The team helps to develop strategies, policies, tools, applications, legislation and the creation of multi-stakeholder platforms while supporting the capacity development of various actors and institutions (including land administration), as well as knowledge generation and management for the responsible governance of tenure.

Contact: Mr Adriano Campolina

The Right to Food Team
supports countries and stakeholders with the implementation of the Right to Food Guidelines. As part of FAO’s contribution to the human rights mandate of the UN, the Team provides policy and capacity-development assistance in the areas of assessment, implementation and monitoring of the Guidelines. The Team also supports member countries to raise awareness and advocate for sustainable food systems, inclusive societies, agency, and long-lasting economic development.

Contact: Mr Alejandro Grinspun

The Socio-Economic Research and Analysis Team (SERA) generates rigorous evidence to support the design and implementation of policies and programmes to foster inclusive rural transformation processes. The team’s strategic research agenda cuts across the thematic areas of work of the division and seeks to inform global debates around inclusive rural transformation based on cutting edge evidence. It focuses particular attention on providing evidence-based insights to address the global challenges of climate change adaptation and economic inclusion in rural areas.

Contact: Mr Nicholas Sitko