Environmental and social safeguards

Achieving sustainable and productive agriculture while promoting protection and sustainable use of natural resources and the advancement of economic and social progress for all, are fundamental goals of FAO. 

FAO's vision, strategic objectives, key principles for sustainability, and environmental and social standards establish a boundary for FAO programmes and projects. Environmental and social risks need to be managed in order to deliver expected outcomes while mitigating potential negative environmental or social impacts.

Environmental and social risk management

All projects and field activities implemented by FAO must ensure that they do not present any risks to the environment or to people. Risks that projects present are generally inadvertent, and may be in areas that are not the main topic of a project.

FAO's environmental and social risk management system helps project formulators and implementers to identify potential risks, and take measures to avoid them or minimize their adverse impacts. 

Framework for Environmental and Social Management

In June 2022, FAO adopted the Framework for Environmental and Social Management (FESM), which replaces the Environmental and Social Management Guidelines (2015) and is complementary to the Compliance Reviews Following Complaints Related to the Organization’s Environmental and Social Standards Guidelines.

The FESM establishes environmental and social performance requirements for FAO programming. It includes key elements of a human rights-based approach with the goal to ensure that people and the environment are protected from any potential adverse impacts of FAO programmes and projects, that all stakeholders have ample opportunities to actively participate in the activities of programmes and projects, and  have access to effective channels to voice their concerns about them. 


Environmental and social standards (ESS)

The FESM is underpinned by nine environmental and social standards (ESS), which reflect the organization’s commitment to mainstream social and environmental sustainability in programmes and projects.