Science, Technology and Innovation

Science, technology and innovation are key components of FAO’s work that are becoming increasingly important.

The Chief Scientist is the driver to leverage Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) in FAO and enables the Organization to strengthen its position as a source of reliable scientific information and a neutral platform at the heart of important debate. The Chief Scientist delivers strategic guidance, coherence and alignment, and ensures that the necessary alliances and partnerships are made and maintained to further the Organization’s aims. 

The Chief Scientist plays an integral role in enhancing dialogue on science, including by developing knowledge and expertise and bringing to bear the foremost science- and evidence-based knowledge, as well as the knowledge, innovation and practices of indigenous peoples and family farmers, related to sustainable agrifood systems. FAO must act as a catalyst for levelling the playing field so that countries can make evidence-based decisions and take action on which technologies and innovations to adopt and adapt in sustaining their food security and nutrition.

The Chief Scientist strengthens FAO’s capacities to support countries in identifying, piloting, and scaling technologies and innovations adapted to their needs and contexts, recognizing that this is particularly challenging due to the specific constraints faced by most of the world’s small-scale producers, including women.  

The Chief Scientist also plays a lead role in engaging in strategic participatory foresight (with regard to emerging technologies and innovations) to prepare better for alternative plausible futures and feeding it into anticipatory action, as well as in convening the global community for constructive dialogue and exchange of knowledge. 

Chief Scientist

Ismahane Elouafi



The Chief Scientist and STI 

The importance of STI for FAO

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The importance of Science, Technology and Innovation for FAO

The interconnectedness of challenges facing our agrifood systems calls for innovative systemic changes. Harnessing science, technology and innovation (STI) is thus key for leveraging emerging opportunities for reaching a world free from poverty, hunger and malnutrition. 

FAO Chief Scientist

The  FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31 puts at its centre the vision of Leaving No One Behind through MORE efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agrifood systems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life for all.

Technology and innovation are two of the four accelerators in FAO Strategic Framework, together with data and complements (governance, human capital, and institutions). The Chief Scientist is integral to ensuring that this vision is realized through harnessing STI to provide solutions that address all the dimensions of sustainability to promote a world free from poverty, hunger and malnutrition, in accordance with the 2030 Agenda.

To bring FAO’s initiatives into a coherent framework, and to facilitate the development of new initiatives, FAO’s first ever Science and Innovation Strategy is being developed, which will help strengthen the use of science and innovation in FAO’s technical interventions and normative guidance, and serve as a key tool for the implementation of the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31.

The Strategy will be a living document, regularly monitored and periodically updated to reflect important developments. 

The Chief Scientist will assess the needs of small-scale producers and evaluate the impacts of technologies and innovations, including the potential benefits, risks, trade-offs and unintended consequences, as well as the barriers to adoption and diffusion, to ensure that the Programme Priority Areas can better leverage the two accelerators.