EU and FAO reaffirm commitment to build a more sustainable future for all

EU contributed more than €1.5 billion to FAO programmes around the world in last 10 years

3 October 2018, Rome - The European Union (EU) and FAO today reaffirmed their commitment to tackle common global concerns such as rising hunger, bring about prosperity and peace, and build a more sustainable future for all.

Over the next two years, EU and FAO will focus on: building communities' resilience to food crises; addressing climate change and better use of natural resources; investing in agriculture and value chains; and improving nutrition and food systems.

"The EU's ongoing support for multilateralism and the United Nations system is as essential to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as it is to addressing the immense challenges that forced migration, conflict and food crises continue to pose today," said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.

"By working together and merging our expertise, I am convinced that we can rise to many of today's most pressing challenges," added Graziano da Silva.  

"I am extremely proud of what the European Union and FAO have achieved together. Over the years, we have built a solid, strategic partnership with a focus on areas that are high on the EU policy agenda. We remain acutely aware that food security and sustainable agriculture remain pressing challenges. That's why only last month, at the UN General Assembly, the European Union and FAO signed a €77 million agreement to boost the resilience of millions of people struggling with food crises around the world," said European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica.

EU-FAO partnership - an important agent of change

EU-FAO cooperation spans a range of areas - from food safety and security, sustainable agriculture, and disease and pest control, to land tenure, soil management, and the fight against illegal fisheries, desertification and deforestation.

The partnership has been an important agent of change for the benefit of millions of people in developing, emerging, and developed countries, including in the EU, and has been growing over the last 10 years.

Between 2007 and 2017, the EU channeled more than €1.5 billion to over 250 FAO-led programmes in 60 countries, scaling up its support in the wake of the 2007-2008 food price crisis, and again in 2017, to address food insecurity and agricultural development issues linked to conflict, migration, environment and climate change challenges.

Over 80 percent of the EU's support to FAO has come from the European Commission's International Cooperation and Development department, with further contributions from the European Commission's Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department and through other EU departments focused on agriculture, fisheries, food safety, plant protection, soils and research.

The EU remains FAO's main resource partner, representing with its Member States 45 percent of the UN agency's budget. In 2017, EU's contribution reached €239 million.   

Between 2014 and 2017, almost half of the contributions were rolled out in Africa, with initiatives also across Europe, Latin America, the Near East and Asia.

At a glance: EU-FAO partnership and its achievements

Major achievements between 2006 and 2017 documented in two reports launched today at an event in Rome marking EU-FAO's cooperation over nearly a quarter of a century include:

  • Alleviating hunger in 49 countries in the grip of the 2007-2008 global food price crisis;
  • Eradicating rinderpest - an infectious viral disease affecting cattle and other animals - in 2011. This was the second infectious disease officially declared eradicated in the contemporary era, after (human) smallpox;
  • Establishing the Food and Nutrition Security Impact, Resilience, Sustainability and Transformation (FIRST) programme (2015), which helps 32 countries to improve policies and investment in agriculture, food security and nutrition;
  • Providing emergency assistance to some of the most vulnerable, crisis-hit people across three continents, including responding to the 2016 El Niño in Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Colombia, Somalia, Haiti, Vietnam and Dominican Republic, and in 2017, averting famine in Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen;
  • Building European countries' capacitates in animal health and livestock services to contain the threat of foot-and-mouth disease;
  • Developing effective concepts and measures to ensure truly sustainable bioenergy production in Europe and worldwide;
  • The Global Report on Food Crises (launched in 2016) has become the global reference point for analysis of and response to food crises. Starting as an EU-FAO-World Food Programme (WFP) initiative, it has grown into a multi-agency effort, drawing the world's attention to the devastating effects of conflicts and protracted crises on food security.

The partnership also led to the development and promotion of a range of international guidelines, agreements and standards aimed at: keeping our food safe, food production sustainable, and animals and plants healthy; promoting fair food trade practices; and protecting wildlife, oceans, land and forests.

These include the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT); the Sustainable Wildlife Management Programme; and the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan.

Photo: ©FAO/Soliman Ahmed
Farmers in Yemen where FAO, EU and partners averted famine in 2017.