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Environmental and Social Management. Guidelines

In June 2022, FAO adopted the Framework for Environmental and Social Management, 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. More information on the framework will be available here soon.


1) Agriculture, including crop, livestock, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture, depend largely on the sound use of natural resources. Sustainable agriculture must strike a balance between protecting and sustainably using natural resources while at the same time meeting society’s growing needs by offering decent and resilient livelihoods. FAO and its key stakeholders need to share a common understanding of what sustainable food and agriculture means, and have appropriate strategies and approaches to support its implementation, in different contexts and at different scales.

2) These Environmental and Social Management Guidelines1 (ESM) are an important building block for FAO’s approach to achieve sustainable development and provide guidelines for FAO headquarters and decentralized offices for the management of environmental and social (E&S) risks in its strategies, policies and field projects.

3) FAO's vision, strategic objectives, key principles for sustainability, and E&S standards establish a boundary for FAO programs and projects. The boundary excludes projects that are not in line with the vision, strategic objectives, key principles for sustainability, and E&S safeguard standards.

4) Within the boundary are potential FAO projects where E&S risks need to be managed in order to deliver expected outcomes for each individual project while mitigating potential negative environmental or social impacts.

5) These guidelines facilitate the early and systematic identification and assessment of E&S risks and the integration of the management of these risks into the project cycle (design and implementation). The guidelines address compliance with the cited standards while facilitating the project outcome and wider strategic aspirations of FAO.

6. The ESM Guidelines are aligned with the FAO project cycle and will play a vital role in ensuring quality of field projects. The consistent application of the ESM Guidelines will also generate knowledge on a continuing basis to enhance the quality of FAO projects and programmes as well in updating FAO’s normative principles and policies that are derived largely from field experience.

7) This document covers: guidelines for FAO project formulators on the identification, assessment and management of E&S risks; principles and safeguard standards on which FAO’s approach to ESM is built; and procedures for integrating the management of E&S risks into the project cycle.