United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Promoting Sustainable Banana Production and Trade through the development of the World Banana Forum

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) (
United Nations / Multilateral body

    Bananas are the most exported fresh fruit in the world by both volume and economic value. It is the 4th most important agricultural commodity in developing countries (DC) and an essential source of income for thousands of rural households. However, agrochemical-intensive production and declining retail prices have given rise to many complex environmental, economic and social challenges affecting entire global banana value chains. Actions needed to address these challenges require the collaboration of all industry stakeholders. The World Banana Forum (WBF) was thus created to enable key actors in the sector to jointly design and implement solutions for the betterment of the industry.


    The WBF promotes the worldwide adoption of best practices for sustainable banana production and trade by enabling a unique, permanent platform of assembly where governments, producers, trade unions, exporters, importers, retailers, civil society organizations, consumer associations and research institutions can discuss the various problems facing the banana sector and jointly seek solutions through collaboration. Specifically, the WBF, its specialized Working Groups/Task Forces, and partners work together to promote the: sustainable management of natural resources; mitigation of climate change and uncontrolled environmental impact; respect for human and labour rights; gender equity; decent or living wages; fair distribution of value along the supply chain; and knowledge sharing as a tool for development.

    Contribution to SDG Implementation

    The WBF provides a global partnership for institutions to support the betterment of the banana industry through the promotion of sustainable consumption and production patterns (SDGs 9, 12, 15, 17). It contributes to food security and enhances the livelihoods of thousands of farmers and workers in developing countries by promoting labour rights, health and safety, reduced use of agrochemicals, gender equity, living wages, and a fair distribution of value across value chains (SDGs 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10). It also supports climate action by advancing reduced carbon and water footprints (SDG 13).

    Implementation methodologies

    As a neutral convener, FAO organized the first World Banana Forum in 2009, which aimed to gather all industry actors for the first time in efforts to collectively identify and prioritize the main issues faced by the banana industry, and identify actions to address them. It counted on over 150 participants representing all main stakeholder groups and geographic regions of the global banana supply chain. The meeting resulted in significant agreements reached by participants, including the need to establish a permanent platform of assembly (now known as the World Banana Forum) with a decision-making body (Steering Committee) and specialized working groups to address sustainability challenges in the industry. FAO’s Trade and Markets Division (EST) hosts the WBF, through the Secretariat, which is composed of Project Officers and International Consultants. The Secretariat coordinates all activities of the WBF, including discussions, meetings and projects of the various working groups and tasks forces, as well as global conferences of the WBF. It reports regularly to, and further organizes and facilitates the biannual meetings of the Steering Committee (SC). It also supports membership, financial and other administrative processes and activities, and undertakes periodic reviews involving members, partner organizations and donors. Ultimately, industry stakeholders participate as members in the WBF and fund its activities through voluntary contribution agreements and a multi-donor trust fund.


    Since its inception, the WBF has been a key example highlighting the strong capacity and potential of the United Nations to partner with private sector stakeholders around shared priorities, supporting the design of fit-for-purpose solutions that have the power to create positive development impacts on global value chains. The WBF gathers a critical mass of stakeholders able to transform dialogue into tangible results, reaching relevant institutional impacts on the sector. The active participation of key stakeholders in the global banana value chain has provided catalytic changes, improving the way in which the fourth most important agricultural commodity sector operates globally. At the same time, the private sector’s knowledge, expertise and innovation is being leveraged to ensure that the sector is moving forward in a socially, environmentally and economically sustainable way.

    Factors and Constraints

    Consumer demand for higher standards and the general eds among main actors of the banana value chain, aligned with the expertise and commitment of multilateral organisations, developed an enabling environment for the establishment of the World Banana Forum. The main constraint identified for achieving consensus was stakeholders with different interests, capital power and points of view. To overcome these challenges, strong and neutral facilitation, coordinated by FAO through the WBF Secretariat, has helped to ensure a smooth process, yielding concrete results.

    Sustainability and replicability

    Since 2009, the WBF has gathered a mass of relevant collaborating stakeholders sufficient to attract other actors and to have a real impact on global banana supply chain, creating a unique platform with common objectives. In addition, stable relationships among WBF actors have inspired trust among members, mitigating the effect of power dynamics and ensuring long-term commitment. As part of FAO, the WBF offers a knowledge platform to build member’s capacities, increasing their participation in WBF’s decision-making processes. The resulting feeling of ownership increases binding procedures, allowing new alliances with reputable partners, and guarantees effective governance and scalability of the project. Furthermore, the institutional knowledge, skills, experience and training acquired by the WBF Secretariat for effective facilitation and coordination of a multi-stakeholder platform is a vital asset for the long-term continuity and success of the project, as well as its expansion. The model can be replicated in other global value chains.

    COVID-19 Impact

    Diverse activities of the WBF were impacted by the restrictions posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly those related to the impossibility of conducting in-person meetings and programmed in-person activities. In order to overcome these challenges, the upcoming Fourth Global Conference of the WBF was postponed, and the meetings of the Steering Committee and capacity development sessions were modified to be held as virtual sessions. In order to support members under the pandemic, the WBF also created a digital repository for knowledge exchange on actions and responses to the pandemic, and facilitated an open space to share experiences focused on ensuring workers health and income during the crisis. The WBF also developed a series of videos for workers and employers to ensure proper health and safety measures are put in place during the pandemic.

    This initiative does not yet fulfil the SMART criteria.
    01 December 2009 (start date)
    01 December 2050 (date of completion)
    Contact Information

    Victor, Promoting Sustainable Banana Production and Trade through the development of the World Banana Forum