Food and Agriculture Organization - FAO


The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is the world's largest specialized agency of the United Nations, with around 13,000 employees (staff/consultants).

FAO Logo
FAO Logo© StäV Rom

Established in October 1945 in Quebec, Canada, FAO has been headquartered in Rome since 1951.

Currently, 194 countries and the European Union (EU) are members.

Tasks and objectives

As a specialized UN agency, FAO has a global mandate for food and agriculture.

The organization's goal is to fight hunger worldwide and to improve the standard of living, especially of people in rural areas.

Globally, FAO aims to

  • contribute to a higher standard of living,
  • contribute to better nutrition and to overcoming hunger and malnutrition;
  • improve the efficiency and sustainability of agricultural production and distribution;
  • create favorable living conditions for rural populations and
  • thereby promote global economic development.

To accomplish this mandate, FAO performs the following main tasks:

  • Collecting, evaluating and disseminating information on the development of agriculture, forestry, fisheries and food worldwide;
  • Performing global normative tasks (e.g., international food standards jointly with WHO under Codex Alimentarius, plant protection, genetic resources for food and agriculture, international forest and fisheries issues, animal health, climate change, and bioenergy);
  • Developing decision-making frameworks for global, regional and national agricultural development together with member states and other international organizations;
  • Develop agricultural and food strategies, primarily as policy advice to developing countries, with attention to sustainability and protection of natural resources;
  • Contributing to food assistance operations under the World Food Programme (WFP).

Institutional structure

The supreme body is the FAO Conference, to which all 194 member states and the EU belong.

It decides on all policy matters of the organization such as the

  • substantive orientation (Strategic Framework and Medium-Term Plan (MTP),
  • organization and structure (Constitution; “Basic Texts”) as well as
  • the Work and Budget Programme (PWB).

The Conference meets every two years.

Between sessions of the Conference, the FAO Council exercises governance and oversight over the organization.

It consists of 49 members and is chaired by an Independent Chair of the Council (ICC).

The work of the Council is supported by numerous committees.


FAO operates on the basis of a two-year Programme of Work and Budget (PWB).

The PWB is financed by mandatory contributions (“assessed contributions”) from member states and additional voluntary contributions (“extrabudgetary resources”).

In the 2022/23 PBW, the organization has available about US$1 billion in mandatory contributions and expected voluntary amounts of about US$2.2 billion.

Members' shares of the compulsory contribution are based on the United Nations contribution scale adjusted to the FAO.

Germany is the fourth largest contributor (6.09%) after the USA, China and Japan.

The voluntary contributions are raised by member states and other public and private entities.

By far the largest share of voluntary contributions is paid by the U.S., followed closely by the European Union, the Green Climate Fund and Germany (around USD 60 million in 2021).

FAO and Germany

  • Germany has been a member of FAO since 1950 and will again be a member of the FAO Council from July 2022.
  • Germany is also a founding member of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), where international food standards are agreed.
  • The German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) has concluded a framework agreement with FAO on project cooperation in the field of food security. Based on this agreement, multi-year projects are financed through a bilateral trust fund with FAO to improve food security in priority countries.
  • Other German voluntary contributions to FAO are mainly provided by the Federal Foreign Office, the Federal Ministry for Development and Cooperation (BMZ), including the Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMU).

As of February 2023

FAO Director-General
Qu Dongyu (China), since August 2019

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00100 - Rome, Italy
Internet: https://www.fao.org/home/en

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