Sustainability Pathways

Partnerships for sustainability

Global Soil Partnership (GSP)

Healthy, fertile soil is the fundament of any sustainable system. The vision of the Global Soil Partnership is to create healthy and productive soils for a food secure world. FAO, with the support of the European Commission has launched the Global Soil Partnership as an intergovernmental mechanism in September 2011. The objective is to raise awareness of decision makers on the vital role of soil resources for achieving food security, adapt to and mitigate climate change and guarantee provision of environmental services. The GSP is meant to facilitate the dialogue and interaction among the various partners working on soils and the users and stakeholders using and competing for soil resources thereby promoting the protection of soils and their sustainable management.

Organic Research Centres Alliance (ORCA)

Agroecological knowledge is key to achieving sustainability in the agriculture sector. The Organic Research Centres Alliance consists of a number of partners as it intends to internationally network and strengthen existing institutions with scientific credentials and empower them to become centers of excellence in transdisciplinary organic agriculture research. The concept has been developed jointly by the FAO – which serves as the ORCA Secretariat –, Tufts University (USA) and the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (Switzerland) in 2009. The objective is to ensure that environmental, economic, and social benefits accruing from organic research are shared worldwide. After the ORCA concept has been finalized, a prototype project proposal (HUSHA) has been submitted to donors. The informal ORCA Research Centre for Climate Change is already pooling the expertise of a dozen institutions worldwide. A dedicated ORCA platform has been created, with a view to offer information specific to organic research areas, country profiles, meetings, news and publications.

Global Bioenergy Partnership (GBEP)

Renewable energies, and especially properly managed bioenergy production can provide opportunities for sustainable development in the agricultural sector and in rural communities, for climate change mitigation and energy security. FAO hosts the Secretariat of the Global Bioenergy Partnership (GBEP), which was launched during the 14th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development in New York in 2006. The objective is to support wider, cost effective biomass and biofuels deployment, particularly in developing countries where biomass use is prevalent. FAO has significantly contributed to GBEP’s work on Sustainability Indicators for Bioenergy, which were agreed upon in May 2011 by 23 countries and 13 international organizations, with the involvement of a further 22 countries and 10 international organizations as observers. These indicators – which are currently tested in several countries – provide a comprehensive yet practical means of evaluating the impacts of bioenergy production and use in a country.


Without youth empowerment any sustainability effort is futile in the long-term. The Youth and United Nations Global Alliance (YUNGA) has been created in 2005 to facilitate collaboration between UN agencies and other organizations working with children and young people (such as schools, youth and civil society groups, NGOs and government institutions). YUNGA and its numerous partners are working together on climate change, food security, biodiversity, and Millennium Development Goals initiatives. The objective of YUNGA is to facilitate the engagement of young people in key environmental and social activities at local and international level (e.g. Climate Change Youth Guide to Action). FAO with a number of partners has been developing resources, activities and the mechanisms to enhance awareness, access to information and participation of children and young people in a range of environmental, social and sustainable development issues, including climate change.

Mountain Partnership

Sustainable mountain development not only aims at meeting challenges in mountains related to agriculture, water, energy, and biodiversity, but also at creating new income-generating activities and enhancing traditional or alternative employment opportunities. The Mountain Partnership was created in 2002 as a voluntary alliance of partners dedicated to improving the lives of mountain people and protecting mountain environments around the world. Presently, 50 countries, 16 intergovernmental organizations and 118 major groups (e.g. civil society, NGOs and the private sector) are members. The FAO hosts the global Secretariat, which acts as a networking and liaison point for members. The objective is to tap the wealth and diversity of expertise, information, knowledge and skills from and between one another, to stimulate concrete action that will bring meaningful change to the world's mountain people and environments. It is through different Partnership Initiatives that members are focusing these efforts. In 2011, at the Lucerne World Mountain Conference, a number of reports focusing on different mountain regions worldwide were prepared and discussed, with the aim to assess progress achieved in Sustainable Mountain Development from Rio 1992. A crucial outcome of the global conference was the Call for Action, which aimed at compiling a document that would serve as basis for the preparation of the zero draft of the outcome document of UNCSD Rio+20.


Global Soil Partnership
Mountain Partnership