Social Protection


Social protection refers to policies and programmes implemented by governments to protect people from income gaps, vulnerability and poverty when they are faced by challenging circumstances. Examples of such measures include cash and in-kind transfers, safety nets, social insurance, and public employment and vocational training initiatives.

FAO’s focus on social protection is an entry point for its efforts to support the development of an inclusive and gender-responsive rural agrifood transformation that leaves no one behind. It helps to overcome deeply rooted inequalities that are still hindering sustainable development, poverty reduction and getting the 2030 Agenda back on track. FAO works with state and non-state actors in rural areas, fostering dialogue between stakeholders involved in providing social protection for rural populations and those from agriculture, fisheries, forestry, environment and other sectors to develop more integrated support packages.


FAO is uniquely placed to support its Members in strengthening their capacities to ensure that:

  • national social protection systems are expanded to ensure adequate coverage to rural populations (farmers, fishers, foresters and pastoralists) and that rural populations are enabled to claim this right;
  • national social protection systems are more gender-responsive and help women adapt to climate change and manage climate-related shocks, improving their food security and nutrition and helping them achieve their full their potential; and
  • climate finance is directed towards making social protection responsive to climate change, helping rural populations adapt their livelihoods to the changing climate.

FAO advocates for increasing finance to expand the coverage of social protection to rural populations by framing it as an investment and as a critical instrument for achieving climate goals. This includes climate finance. 

In action

FAO provides technical support to governments and delivers training to enable them to tailor social protection systems to the needs of their rural populations and to coordinate these across key sectors (e.g. agriculture, fisheries, forestry, environment).

The Organization also develops the capacities of civil society and producer organizations to participate in policy dialogue on social protection and to claim their rights. 

In support of this, FAO generates evidence to influence thinking on the importance of social protection in enabling rural households to take part in economic development. This provides a bridge between humanitarian and development sectors.