Food security and nutrition, urban planning and development

Photo credit: FAO

Crops growing on the outskirts of Fayoume in Egypt.


Feeding the world’s cities: a critical challenge for sustainable development

Providing healthy diets for the world’s growing urban population requires forging stronger links between rural producers and urban markets and building food systems that are more socially inclusive, environmentally sound and less wasteful, FAO Deputy Director-General for Natural Resources, Maria Helena Semedo, said today.

She spoke at the opening of an FAO-organized meeting at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) taking place during this year’s International Green Week in Berlin, from 15-24 January 2016.

Semedo warned of the difficulties that many cities face in ensuring regular and stable access to adequate food for all. “This will worsen as an increasing proportion of the hungry will be living in urban areas,” she said.

More than 50 percent of the world’s population currently lives in urban areas and this is expected to rise to 70 percent by 2050, particularly in developing countries.

Increasing effects of climate change, including storms, floods and other extreme weather events, pose an added threat to how people in cities, especially the poor, access food.

Re-shaping food systems and making them more sustainable

Read the full article: FAO

Food insecurity caused by El Niño-induced drought

Photo credit: UN News Centre

West Hararghe region, Ethiopia, December 2015. Some 10.2 million people are food insecure amidst one of the worst droughts to hit Ethiopia in decades. Photo: WFP/Stephanie Savariaud

Ethiopia: $50 million needed to tackle food insecurity caused by El Niño-induced drought, says UN

As the worst El Niño-induced drought has sparked a sharp deterioration in food security and massive drop in agricultural and pastoral production in Ethiopia, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today presented a $50 million plan to assist agriculture- and livestock-dependent households and enhance their resilience.

“The outlook for 2016 is very grim,” said Amadou Allahoury, FAO Representative for Ethiopia, adding that “continued drought throughout the beginning of 2016 also means pasture will become even more scarce, which will negatively impact livestock keepers that rely on those grazing lands and water points for their food security.”

The current El Niño pattern, being the strongest ever recorded, has caused severe drought in the Horn of Africa nation, resulting in crop reduction by 50 to 90 per cent; even failure in some regions. Thus, some 10.2 million people are food insecure and farmers have been left vulnerable without valuable seeds for upcoming planting season.

Moreover, livestock will become leaner, sicker and less productive and perish, as worsening access to pasture and water continues, according to FAO’s latest assessments. Meanwhile, malnutrition rates have spiked and the number of severe acute malnutrition admissions for children is now the highest ever reported.

In response, FAO has outlined an emergency roadmap aiming at assisting 1.8 million farmers and livestock keepers, reducing food gaps, and restoring agricultural production and incomes in 2016.

“$50 million is now sought from the international community by FAO to reach and this is an immediate need because we have to be there in the next few weeks for them for the farmers and pastoralists to start agriculture and this is a very urgent need for assistance,” Shukri Ahmed, FAO Senior Economist, appealed in a video interview.

First, FAO plans to assist 131,500 households through agricultural production, especially for the first half of 2016. This includes emergency seed distribution, small-scale irrigation and backyard gardening initiatives, support for seed producers and women’s empowerment.

Next, some 293,000 households will benefit from FAO’s livestock interventions, such as the distribution of emergency animal feed, vaccination drives, restocking of 100,000 goats and sheep to vulnerable households, as well as cash-for-livestock exchange programmes.

Read the full article: UN News Centre

Four new sites designated Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems for innovation, sustainability and adaptability

Photo credit: FAO

The GIAHS are recognized for their contribution to food and nutrition security as well as delivering important benefits to the ecosystem. View of Nagara River.


Sustainable farming systems in Bangladesh and Japan receive global recognition

Four traditional farming systems in Bangladesh and Japan have been designated today by FAO as “Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems.”

They include Bangladesh’s floating gardens, a unique hydroponics production system constructed with natural grasses and plants, which have been developed in flood areas; and a trio of sites in Japan: the sustainable river fisheries utilizing Sato-kawa system in Gifu, the Minabe-Tanabe Ume approach to growing apricots on nutrient-poor slopes in Wakayama; and the Takachihogo-Shiibayama mountainous agriculture and forestry system in Miyazaki which allows agricultural and forestry production in a steep mountainous area.

The sites were officially recognized during a joint meeting of the GIAHS Steering and Scientific Committee at FAO headquarters in Rome.

These new designations bring the number of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) systems to a total of 36 sites located in 15 countries in Africa, Latin America, Near East and Asia.

Read the full article: FAO

FAO leader hails role of agriculture in national pledges, applauds the promise to scale up funding

Photo credit: FAO

School children in Tanzania plant and care for trees as part of an FAO Climate-Smart Agriculture project.

Breakthrough climate agreement recognizes food security as a priority

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva has welcomed the approval of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, saying that “for the first time ever, food security features in a global climate change accord.”

The Agreement recognizes “the fundamental priority of safeguarding food security and ending hunger, and the particular vulnerabilities of food production systems to the impacts of climate change”.

It underlines the need to “increase the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience (…) in a manner that does not threaten food production.”

“This is a game changer for the 800 million people still suffering from chronic hunger and the 80 percent of the world’s poor who live in rural areas and earn their income − and feed their families − via the agriculture sectors. By including food security, the international community fully acknowledges that urgent attention is needed to preserve the well-being and future of those who are on the front line of climate change threats,” Graziano da Silva said.

“FAO commends this milestone decision to move forward on climate change action, which comes on the heels of the new Sustainable Development Agenda and its pledge to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger by 2030. Central to our goal of achieving Zero Hunger, FAO strongly advocates for commitments to protect and enhance food security in a changing climate,” he added. “Our message is simple: we will not reach Sustainable Development Goal 2 on ending hunger − and by extension the entire 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda − without ambitious action on climate change.”

Fighting hunger and climate must go “hand-in-hand,” he said. “FAO is highly encouraged by the fact that agriculture, forestry, fisheries and land use factor prominently in most of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) − the actions countries intend to take under the new Paris Agreement − and notes that this underscores the need for targeted investment in sustainable agriculture.

Read the full article: FAO

New publication on financing for forest and landscape restoration


Message sent by LAND-L

FAO and Global Mechanism of the UNCCD launch new publication on financing for forest and landscape restoration

More than USD 300 billion are needed per year to restore the world’s degraded land in order to achieve a new Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target by 2030, according to a new publication by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Global Mechanism of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (GM).

The joint discussion paper, Sustainable financing for forest and landscape restoration: opportunities, challenges, and the way forward, was launched today at the Global Landscapes Forum in Paris during a session on ‘’Investing in integrated landscapes to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals’’.

Currently, the world’s degraded land amounts to 2 billion hectares, which is equal to an area the size of South America. Each year an additional 12 million hectares of land are degraded, while 7.6 million hectares of forest are converted to other uses or lost through natural causes.

“The degradation of the world’s land and forests is a serious threat to the livelihoods and food security of millions of people who depend on them, and there is an urgent need to invest in forest and landscape restoration to bring a significant portion of that degraded land back to a productive state,” said Douglas McGuire, Coordinator of the Forest and Landscape Restoration Mechanism hosted by the Forestry Department of FAO.

Funding falls short of global commitments

Countries have already made ambitious commitments to forest and landscape restoration, including under Goal 15 of the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which sets a target (15.3) to achieve land degradation neutrality by 2030.

In addition, some countries had previously pledged to restore 150 million hectares by 2020 in the framework of the 2011 Bonn Challenge, and 350 million hectares by 2030 under the 2014 New York Declaration on Forests.

However, mobilization of funds is one of the chief constraints to achieving these global targets. The USD 300 billion a year needed for SDG target 15.3 aside, the Bonn Challenge is estimated to require USD 36 billion a year, and the New York Declaration USD 49 billion a year.

“One of the main barriers is insufficient awareness of financing opportunities and investors’ lack of understanding of forest and landscape restoration,” said Markus Repnik, Managing Director of the GM.

Key questions addressed at the Global Landscape Forum session on ‘’Investing in integrated landscapes to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals’’

The GLF is one of the largest events held on the sidelines of the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The session on ‘’Investing in integrated landscapes to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals’’, at which the publication was launched, addressed a number of key questions on forest and landscape restoration financing, including:

[if !supportLists]·         [endif]How are investments coordinated within integrated landscape initiatives?

[if !supportLists]·         [endif]How can investors better engage with landscape stakeholders?

[if !supportLists]·         [endif]How can these models be scaled-up and applied in the implementation of SDGs?

The joint FAO-GM discussion paper addresses these issues by providing an overview of existing funding sources and financial instruments that could be adapted specifically for forest and landscape restoration purposes both at the local, national, regional and global levels.

The Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative launched a complementary publication at the same discussion forum entitled “Scaling up investment & finance for integrated landscape management: Challenges and innovations”.

Innovative financing solutions proposed in the publication launched in Paris

The FAO-GM discussion paper sets out key messages on financing for forest and landscape restoration for governments, development banks, international agencies, environmental funds, NGOs and private companies. It also proposes innovative and non-traditional ideas such as crowdfunding and green bank cards.

 “With both governments and development agencies facing increasing funding shortages, long-term financing solutions may rely on private-sector investors – businesses and individuals – whether in the framework of corporate social responsibility or as investors looking for a mix of social and financial returns,” said Ludwig Liagre of the GM.

The joint publication also identifies ways to create an enabling environment for sound investments in forest and landscape restoration and proposes recommendations for building and strengthening financial alliances.

A joint FAO-GM public policy brief and infographic with key messages on sustainable financing for forest and landscape restoration included in this publication were launched in October 2015 at the Forests and Landscape Forum – organized by the GM, FAO, and LPFN, among other partners- during the 12th Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD in Ankara, Turkey.

Related links

Discussion Paper on ‘’Sustainable financing for Forest and Landscape Restoration: opportunities, challenges, and the way forward’’

Infographic on Sustainable financing for forest and landscape restoration: key messages

Policy brief on ‘’Sustainable financing for forest and landscape restoration: the role of public policy makers’’


Global Mechanism’s work on forest and landscape restoration

FAO’s Forest and Landscape Restoration Mechanism

No peace without sustainable development

Photo credit: FAO

Floods are becoming more common and are devastating for crops and rural livelihoods.


Climate change hits poor and hungry people the hardest

Sustainable development is inseparable from peace, FAO Director-General tells Paris climate conference

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva speaking today at the United Nations Climate Conference (COP21) appealed to world leaders to show courage and  resilience by opting for changes that promote a safer, fairer and more inclusive world.

“There will be no peace without sustainable development and there will never be sustainable development while people continue to be left behind and while people are suffering from extreme poverty and hunger,” the FAO Director-General said, adding that “we must demonstrate that we are not afraid” of promoting the changes needed to achieve this.

Graziano da Silva was addressing participants in a COP21 high level meeting on climate resilience and adaptation. This included the launch of  the UN Secretary-General’s new Initiative on Resilience: Anticipate, Absorb, Reshape  (A2R) aimed at boosting countries’ disaster risk reduction efforts.

Climate change “affects all of us, but especially the poorest and hungry people,” Graziano da Silva said, underscoring how smallholders and family farmers are “in the front line”.

The most vulnerable must be helped to adapt to climate change, he added, stressing that in relation to the agricultural sectors, this requires environmentally sound initiatives that must go hand-in-hand with mitigating climate change impacts.

Building resilience by acting before, during and after crises

Droughts, floods, storms and other disasters triggered by climate change have risen in frequency and severity over the last three decades. A recent FAO study shows that in developing countries, some 25 percent of the negative economic impact of these disasters is borne by the crop, livestock, fisheries and forestry sectors alone.

Read the full article: FAO

To make geospatial tracking and mapping products more accessible

Photo credit: FAO

Forest researchers in Viet Nam use laser technologies to measure tree height and thickness.

Google and FAO partner to make remote sensing data more efficient and accessible

Partnership enhances ability to assess changing forest and to estimate greenhouse gas emissions

Google Maps and FAO have agreed to work closely together to make geospatial tracking and mapping products more accessible, providing a high-technology assist to countries tackling climate change and much greater capacity to experts developing forest and land-use policies.

Digital technology tapping into satellite imagery is revolutionizing the way countries can assess, monitor and plan the use of their natural resources, including monitoring deforestation and desertification.

“For FAO, this is not just a partnership. This is a strategic alliance,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, noting it combines FAO’s global effort to combat climate change with Google’s commitment to help on the climate data science and awareness fronts.

The three-year partnership between Google Maps and FAO is designed to foster innovation and expertise and sharply broaden access to easy-to-use digital tools. It ushers in a major ramping up of existing collaboration between the two organizations and will boost the visibility and implementation of efforts to encourage sustainable environmental practices around the world.

“This partnership is powerful because it unites the complementary strengths of UN FAO and Google,” said Rebecca Moore, Director, Google Earth, Earth Engine & Earth Outreach. “FAO has decades of hard-won experience working on the ground in hundreds of countries on thousands of projects. Meanwhile, Google technology is at the cutting edge of big data, cloud computing, and transformatively-simple mapping tools. The FAO Collect Earth application brilliantly builds on top of Google Earth and Earth Engine to provide a simple but powerful global and national forest carbon monitoring tool, empowering countries as diverse as Chile, Panama, Namibia, Papua New Guinea, Tunisia and Bhutan. We look forward to further strengthening this partnership in support of global climate action and sustainable development.”

Concretely, Google Maps will provide 1,200 trusted tester credentials on Google Earth Engine to FAO staff and partners, while also providing training and receiving feedback on users’ needs and experiences.

Read the full article: FAO

Global warming and food

Photo credit: Google

FieldSync™ in Agriculture

Climate change and your food: Ten facts

What a warming worlds means for agriculture and feeding the planet

Here are ten facts about how a change climate affects our ability to grow food and feed ourselves.

Help spread the word about the implications of climate change for global food security: Select a fact, and then the pop-up Twitter icon that appears to tweet it. We’ve bolded a few tweetable tidbits as suggestions for you.

Tag a tweet with #COP21 to let world leaders gathered in Paris know that feeding the planet demands action on#ClimateChange.


75% of the world’s poor & food insecure people rely on agriculture & natural resources for their livelihoods
FAO estimates that world food production must rise 60% to keep pace with demographic change. #ClimateChange puts this at risk.
According to @IPPC, crop yield declines of 10-25% may be widespread by 2050 due to #ClimateChange
Rising temperatures are predicted to reduce catches of the world’s main fish species by 40%.

Read the full article: FAO

To identify areas where water use produces poor crops

Photo credit: FAO

All countries in North Africa and the Near East suffer from severe water scarcity, raising significant challenges for agriculture that are expected to be compounded by climate change.


Netherlands donates $7 million to improve water management in Near East and Africa

Remote sensing satellite imagery will help to identify areas where water use produces poor crops

The Netherlands and FAO are expanding their collaboration in the area of water management with a $7 million donation by the Dutch government to support the use of remote sensing technology in helping water-scarcecountries in the Near East and Africa monitor and improve the way they use water for crop production.

The additional donation brings the total budget up to $10 million for the Dutch-funded project that uses satellite data to find land areas where water use is not translating into optimal agricultural production, identify the source of the problem and recommend different planting and irrigation techniques.

“The project uses some of the most advanced technologies and takes into account the ecosystems and the equitable use of water resources,” FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said at an event marking the extended agreement at FAO headquarters in Rome.

He highlighted the importance of the project on the eve of the UN climate conference in Paris, noting the added stress that climate change places on farmers in the way they manage limited water resources.

“We all know that water is becoming scarce while at the same time it is crucial to producing enough good food for a growing number of people,” said Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to FAO Gerda Verburg.

“With this innovative remote sense approach to improving water productivity we give farmers a concrete tool to take decisions about the best use of water and what kind of crops to grow — but also about the growing season so that they can target their investments,” she added.

The data tools created under the project, which will be freely available to governments and farmers alike, also aim to help policymakers in taking evidence-based policy decisions.

Some 70 percent of all freshwater withdrawn worldwide is used for agriculture – a figure that rises to as much as 95 percent in certain developing countries, posing major challenges to the sustainability of food production.

Growing scarcity of and competition for water also threaten to derail poverty alleviation efforts, especially in semi-arid rural areas where access to for this precious resource to grow food and rear livestock is essential for stable livelihoods.

How it works

Read the full article: FAO

Food security and disasters caused by all types of natural hazards

Photo credit: FAO

A parched field in Kenya. Drought is especially devastating to sub-Saharan agriculture.


Surge in climate change-related disasters poses growing threat to food security

In developing countries the agriculture sector bears much of the economic impact

Droughts, floods, storms and other disasters triggered by climate change have risen in frequency and severity over the last three decades, increasing the damage caused to the agricultural sectors of many developing countries and putting them at risk of growing food insecurity, FAO warned in a new report released today ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) in Paris.

Worldwide, between 2003 and 2013 – the period analyzed in the study – the average annual number of disasters caused by all types of natural hazards, including climate-related events, almost doubled since the 1980s. The total economic damage caused is estimated at $1.5 trillion.

Focusing specifically on the impact of climate-related disasters in developing countries, some 25 percent of the negative economic impacts were borne by the crop, livestock, fisheries and forestry sectors alone. In the case of drought, over 80 percent of the damage and losses affected the agriculture sector, especially livestock and crop production.

The FAO report is based on a review of 78 on the ground post disaster needs-assessments conducted in developing countries coupled with statistical analyses of production losses, changes in trade flows and agriculture sector growth associated with 140 medium and large scale disasters – defined as those affecting at least 250,000 people.

The report clearly demonstrates that natural hazards – particularly extreme weather events – regularly impact heavily on agriculture and hamper the eradication of hunger, poverty and the achievement of sustainable development.

The situation is likely to worsen unless measures are taken to strengthen the resilience of the agriculture sector and increase investments to boost food security and productivity and also curb the harmful effects of climate change.


Read the full article: FAO

Dialogue on science and implementation experience of agroecology



Regional Meeting on Agroecology in Sub-Saharan Africa

A regional meeting for Africa on agroecology Saharan Africa will take place on 5 and 6 November 2015 in Dakar, Senegal. It aims at promoting dialogue on science and implementation experience of agroecology.


On 18-19 September 2014, FAO held an International Symposium on Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition in Rome. This event took place in the context of the FAO’s Strategic Framework, in particular the Objective 2: “Make Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries more Productive and Sustainable”. The Symposium was considered a great success, and brought together 400 scientists, producers, policy makers and representatives from the private and public sectors and NGOs.

During the Symposium, the Director-General of FAO, José Graziano da Silva, announced that FAO would organize regional meetings on Agroecology in Latin America, Africa and Asia. This reflected a lesson learnt from the International Symposium, that effective work on Agroecology would have to be based on local realities and their economic, social and environmental conditions.

This note presents, therefore, the implementation of this decision at the African level. The regional meeting in Latin America took place in June 2015 and those in Asia and the Pacific will be held in November 2015.

The regional meetings will highlight existing best practices in the Region as well as challenges to the adoption of agroecology and identify strategies to overcome them. The meetings will be held with key stakeholders in agroecology: producers and social movements, the private sector, academia and agronomic research institutes, government representatives, FAO officials and representatives of indigenous peoples and local communities.


The holistic approach of agroecology incorporates the traditional knowledge and skills of communities around the world by integrating ecological, agronomic, economic and social research.

Read the full article: FAO

Voluntary guide for national seed policy formulation (Eng, Fr, Esp.)


La guía voluntaria para la formulación de políticas nacionales de semillas

Year of publication: 2015
Publisher: FAO
Pages: 70 p.
Job Number: I4916
Abstract:Disponer de semillas de calidad de una amplia gama de variedades de cultivos adaptadas es esencial para lograr la seguridad alimentaria y la seguridad de los medios de subsistencia y para erradicar el hambre, especialmente en los países en desarrollo. En la Guía se explica en qué consisten las políticas de semillas y en qué difieren de las leyes sobre semillas, se describe el proceso participativo de formulación de una política sobre semillas, la naturaleza y el diseño de los documentos sobre política de semillas y los elementos constitutivos clave de las políticas de semillas, y se consideran temas relacionados con su aplicación. El documento está destinado específicamente a responsables de las políticas, agencias nacionales de semillas y organizaciones de agricultores que operan en el sector de las semillas.


The availability of, and access to, quality seeds of a diverse range of adapted crop varieties is essential for achieving food and livelihood security and for eradicating hunger, especially in developing countries. This guide explains what seed policies are and how they differ from seed laws; describes the participatory process of seed policy formulation; the nature and layout of seed policy documents; key elements contained in seed policies; and addresses issues involved in their implementation. It is specifically intended for use by policymakers, national seed agencies, civil society, and public and private sector organizations, including national seed associations and farmers’ organizations involved in the seed sector.

Also Available in: English French
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