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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

1. How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the priorities of your organization?

The UN system organizations is committed to collective and synergetic efforts to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. To support this mission, FAO is strengthening national capacities for measuring SDG indicators, mostly in developing countries, and innovating to ensure more integrated and coherent support and policy advice to countries and stakeholders. Just after the World Health Organization declared the pandemic, the United Nations Special Envoy for the Food Systems Summit and leaders of the UN Committee on World Food Security co-authored a call for all governments to step up their safeguarding policies around agriculture.

Poverty, food security, nutrition and food safety are directly and indirectly affected by the ongoing pandemic crises. However, COVID-19 represents an opportunity. Despite considerable challenges, FAO seeks to use this uncertain period to address complex linkages of cross-cutting themes, avoiding fragmented and sectoral responses while working towards more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive policies to transform our agri-food systems, generally associated to an overuse of natural resources, loss of biodiversity, socioeconomic exclusion, food insecurity and malnutrition. In that context, transforming our based on the SDG´s vision. Since COVID was a global scale disaster, it had direct impacts on FAO´s priorities in terms of disaster risk management and resilience building vis-a-vis all types of disasters: from working mostly on single hazards to a multi-risk approach that also recognize cascading and systemic risks. FAO is now committed to support the design and implementation of prevention and mitigation policies based on this new understanding and on inter-disciplinary collaboration. In this sense, COVID-19 calls for enhanced policy coordination, cohesiveness, and inclusivity.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed dangerous deficiencies in our agrifood systems, generally associated to an overuse of natural resources, loss of biodiversity, socioeconomic exclusion, food insecurity and malnutrition. In that context, transforming our agrifood systems is one of the most powerful ways to change course in order to realize the vision of the 2030 Agenda and support the Secretary-General’s call to “build back better” from COVID-19 and leave no one behind.

Agrifood systems refers to the totality of actors involved in the production, distribution, and consumption of food, the relations between them, and the regulatory apparatus governing these arrangements. The limited performance of our agrifood systems and the different tradeoffs of their related policies is a powerful example of the urgent need to promote a better coordination of multiple policy areas.

The pandemic showcases the critical need to boost the resilience of smallholders against multiple interconnected, cascading and mutually aggravating risks (pandemics, climate change and extreme events, plant pests and animal diseases, and socioeconomic crises). Comprehensive multi-risk management approaches across the agrifood systems are therefore necessary to improve livelihoods resilience, including stepping in early to mitigate the impact of disasters as well as the cost of emergency response and reconstruction. Anthropogenic activities are the primary reason for growing risks of pandemics because of closer human-animal interactions, which presents opportunities for diseases to be transferred between animals and humans. Intensive agriculture that unsustainably alters our ecosystems, such as increasing deforestation, is thus theme at FAO growing in relevance. In the past, FAO, WHO, and the World Organisation for Animal Health have launched the One Health initiative to address the challenge of future pandemics caused by zoonoses that affect human and animal health, food security, poverty, and the environment. This partnership deserves to be scaled and prioritized. For FAO, the primary lesson of the pandemic is that the UN system would benefit from breaking siloed thinking and action to ensure that the interconnected nature of the SDGs is effectively addressed through agrifood transformations.

Moreover, FAO is emphasizing that agrifood systems would benefit from practices that address the complex linkages across multiple SDGs. Its focus on inclusion for poverty and inequalities reduction, as well as climate and biodiversity protection show that human health can be directly benefitted. During COVID-19, FAO learned that, besides the health implications, interruption of work, transport, and demand. This led to an increased level of food losses in particular for small producers in remote rural settings who were already experiencing high level of losses due to logistical challenges and access to market. Populations that already suffered from malnutrition showed greater susceptibility to diseases, especially for the rural women, youth, indigenous people, vulnerable and marginalized groups. For instance, rural women are disproportionally affected by COVID-19 in several ways, including but not limited to food security and nutrition, increased work burden due to school closures and the care needs of sick household members, limited access to health facilities, services and economic opportunities, and greater incidence of gender-based violence. COVID-19 has thus intersected with preexisting vulnerabilities and contributed to rising inequalities, once more putting the spotlight on the need to tackle the root causes of poverty and food insecurity. Researchers also showed that the pandemic also exacerbated poor nutrition due to the lack of availability of fresh fruits and vegetables, which led to increased consumption of ultra-processed foods.

Overall, FAO is working to promote a long-term sustainable and fair recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. FAO's Strategic Framework seeks to support the 2030 Agenda through the transformation to MORE efficient, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable agri-food systems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life, leaving no one behind.

More broadly, it is imperative that post-COVID-19 agrifood systems build greater resilience in the context of complex linkages across multiple systems. As noted above, this includes adopting more regenerative and climate-adapted agricultural and food production practices that mitigate the emergence of diseases and the impact of climate change, supporting more diverse production, market and processing arrangements that have greater flexibility in the face of disruptions, and ensuring greater agency and equity for food system male and female workers and those whose food security is most affected by food system disruptions.

Pathways to achieve these goals include the support of more diverse production, market and processing arrangements that have greater flexibility in the face of disruptions. FAO also is working to promote an inclusive food systems transformation by ensuring greater agency and equality for agrifood system workers and those whose food security is most affected by agrifoods systems disruptions, particularly LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS. With up to 70% of the global food supply destined for urban consumption, FAO recognized that the disruption of urban food systems has particularly affected the food distribution and the food retail sectors. The COVID-19 pandemic is still disrupting urban food systems worldwide, affecting the food security and nutrition of urban populations. The management of the crisis by city and local governments can therefore play a major role in mitigating the disruptions in their food systems and any negative effects on vulnerable populations. It was consequently deemed very important for FAO to map the municipal responses to the emergency, and to analyze progress and setbacks in managing disruptions in the urban food systems and related implications for food security and nutrition. Such understanding will strengthen the evidence-base on which countries will build policies and programmes dealing with the crisis and its effects. It will also provide valuable information on how to strengthen the performance and resilience of urban food systems. (

To ensure that these synergies are well coordinated and communicated across FAO and across the interaction and collaboration of the Organization with the UN system and Member Countries, a new FAO´s Office of Sustainable Development Goals (OSG) has been created in 2021 with an overall objective to mainstream SDGs for agrifood systems transformations through the FAO Strategic Framework (SF), which envisions “A world free from hunger and malnutrition where food and agriculture contribute to improving the living standards of all, especially the poorest, in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable manner”.

The OSG will also host the Food Systems Coordination Hub that collaborates with, and draws upon, wider UN system capacities to support follow-up to the momentum created by the Summit and provide services to member states to implement their national pathways, including through the different Food Systems Summit Coalitions. The OSG Office at FAO will strengthen inter alia national stakeholders' support further and ensure that food and agriculture are prominently reflected in the nationally identified priorities for COVID19 recovery within the 2030 Agenda framework. The OSG office fills several needs to transform agrifood systems, addressing challenges such as: 1) Resilient ecosystems are the foundation for sustainable agrifood systems. And yet, current production patterns are not well adapted to consider the complexity of interactions that the 2030 Agenda requires to be effective and timely implemented. Such lack of understanding perpetuates and accentuates inequalities, delaying the combat against poverty, hunger, and malnutrition. 2) A new paradigm for resilient agrifood systems that protects people and the planet must be created and positively communicated to break institutional and mental silos responsible for fragmented policy responses and design in sustainable development.

2. In 2020/2021, how has your organization endeavored to support Member States to build back better from COVID-19 while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda? Please select up to three high-impact initiatives to highlight, especially those that address interlinkages among the SDGs. How has your organization cooperated with other UN system organizations in those efforts to achieve coherence and synergies?

Name: 2021 Food Systems Summit
Partners: (please list all partners) The UN FSS was preceded by an intensive three-day pre-summit in Rome on 26-28 July 2021, where more than 500 delegates from 108 countries, many at ministerial level, convened physically. Together with 17 000 online participants, representing 190 countries in total, they prepared the conclusions and calls for action to be adopted at the UN FSS.
Relevant SDGs SDGs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 , 13, 14, 15, 16, 17
Member States benefiting from the initiative: On World Food Day on 16 October 2019, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called for a Food Systems Summit to be held in 2021. The announcement followed conversations with the joint leadership of the three Rome-based United Nations agencies – the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme – at the High-level Political Forum in July 2019. Summit wanted to recognize and strengthen the many independent initiatives that have emerged to transform different aspects of agrifood systems. Many of these initiatives are aware of the interactions, dependencies, and possible tradeoffs around interlinked issues, but they lack a common framing, a shared vision, and a strong science‐policy interface. Inputs from multiple stakeholders were central in defining and operationalizing solutions and actions that will allow agrifood systems to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs. Their engagement was essential in the preparatory process and in the delivery of the United Nations Food Systems Summit. During preparations for the Summit, FAO in cooperation with the Special Envoy and Secretariat engaged with Member States to establish agile and innovative consultations, including regional and country consultations, such as the Food Systems Summit Dialogues. More than 150 countries took part in the event, which took place entirely online. The Summit generated a remarkable level of mobilization and public debate through multiple platforms, revealing a consensus on the need for a radical reform of agrifood systems. A follow-up mechanism has been designed to advance the national and global transformative actions announced at the summit, and the United Nations Secretary-General will convene a global stock-taking meeting every two years to measure progress. The follow-up mechanism will be structure around a Food Systems Coordination Hub to be hosted by FAO on behalf of the UN system.
Description: The term “food system” encompasses every person and every process involved in growing, raising, or making food, and getting it into your stomach – from farmers to fruit pickers to supermarket cashiers, or from flour mills to refrigerated trucks to neighborhood composting facilities. The health of our agrifood systems profoundly affects the health of our bodies, as well as the health of our environment, our economies, and our cultures. When they function well, agrifood systems have the power to bring us together as families, communities, and nations. The preparatory process for the summit was highly inclusive, consultative, and participatory. It was designed to achieve the following three objectives: 1. To create a common vision — evolving around four broad objectives — across the SDGs: eradication of poverty; elimination of hunger and all forms of malnutrition, including obesity; protection and sustainable use of biodiversity, land, water, soil, marine, fishery, forestry, and ecosystem services; climate change adaptation, mitigation and resilience, as well as promoting inclusiveness. These four objectives touch upon all the SDGs and are essential for understanding the relationship between food systems and the 2030 Agenda. The challenge is to analytically understand the interactions between these objectives, including the interdependencies and tradeoffs between them. 2. To build a sophisticated, open data‐sharing platform for modeling and analysis to construct scenarios — all with a view to enabling better‐targeted policies, innovations, investment, and governance. This was the first ever UN Food Systems Summit, but it built on decades of countries, civil society and UN leadership and critical efforts to ensure food security and nutrition for all. The 2021 Summit’s objectives were to engage a very broad set of actors in addition to those who typically engage within the food security and nutrition area, acknowledging the critical role of food systems to achieve all SDGs. The Food Systems Summit was not a platform for negotiation, but a time-bound opportunity to unleash ambitious new actions, innovative solutions, and plans to transform our food systems and leverage these shifts to deliver progress across all SDGs. The Summit intended to help grow the movement around food systems and strengthen the role of existing institutions for the duration of the Decade of Action.


Name: The Hand in Hand Initiative (HIH)
Partners: (please list all partners) Under the Initiative, FAO has been building partnerships with many public, private and third-sector organizations to offer data, analysis integrated policy services, provide access to means of implementation and mobilize scaled up financing and investment. Partners include donor institutions; international financial institutions (IFIs); local and international private sector entities of all sizes; major international and national research centres; CSOs and NGOs; and UN sister agencies, funds, and programmes.
Relevant SDGs SDGs 1, 2, 10
Member States benefiting from the initiative: The initiative prioritizes the poor, focusing on the poorest countries (Least Developed Countries [LDCs], including LDC Landlocked Developing States [LLDCs] and LDC Small Island Developing States [SIDS]); countries affected by food crisis as designated by the Global Network against Food Crises; and countries with large poor populations. As of January 2022, 46 countries have requested FAO to provide support through the HiH Initiative. These countries include: Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cabo Verde, Chad, Congo, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Honduras, Kenya, Kiribati, Lao PDR, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Tuvalu, Uganda, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

The HiH Initiative supports national programmes for inclusive, sustainable and resilient agri-food systems transformation and is evidence- and science-based, country-led and country-owned. The Initiative provides a framework that includes five elements:

  1. a state-of-the-art HiH Geospatial Platform that enables access to millions of layers of food and agriculture-related data, analysis and tool to provide the evidence and science base for transformational initiatives;
  2. a territorial approach that uses advanced analytics to identify and differentiate areas where agri-food systems transformation can eradicate poverty, end hunger and all forms of malnutrition, and reduce inequality within and among nations;
  3. an innovative matchmaking approach to scale-up finance and investment;
  4. Partnering to mobilize a wide range of means of implementation, including science, technology and innovation, access to markets, and human capital development;
  5. A robust monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework for linking actions to impacts.

The Initiative uses an agrifood systems lens to identify opportunities to optimize “net market earnings,” for small producers and SME service providers through an integrated investment programme that benefits all value chain participants and confirms to all three pillars of sustainable investment. Hand‐in‐Hand looks closely into supply and demand for goods and services, including farmers’ access to markets and the need to improve the share of income they receive for their products or labor. The rural poor, even those engaged in farming in some way, typically earn their living from a variety of activities that are often part‐time, piecework, or seasonal. All these activities can be compared on a common metric of individual, social or external net earnings, or “profits”, against alternative uses of labor and resources. The initiative takes as its primary metric to raise incomes to the level established by UN research (SOFI 2020 and 2021) required to enable access to healthy diets – a level found to be $6.99/day in purchasing power parity (PPP), or three and a half times the extreme poverty line. FAO estimates that the Initiative will help reduce poverty by 8‐15 percent in the priority countries, which translates into between 41‐160 million people escaping poverty. The monitoring framework will have its first benchmark in 2023, and the second benchmark in 2030. As the custodian of 21 SDG indicators, FAO will use available SDG data as the core monitoring tools to assess progress. FAO welcomes external evaluation of its progress by other agencies. A red‐yellow‐green scorecard system is in development to track progress. Red indicates that a country is off‐ track and off‐target to meet the Sustainable Development Goal 1 and 2. Yellow means on‐track, but off‐ target. Green means on track and on target. For instance, Burkina Faso’s poverty reduction target is to reduce the poverty rate from 43.7% to 21.7% by 2023, and presently, it has a green status.



Name: Support to SDG Monitoring
Relevant SDGs: SDGs 2, 5, 6, 12, 14, 15
Member States benefiting from the initiative: Developing countries with low SDG indicators reporting rates
Description: As a custodian agency for 21 SDG indicators, FAO has supported a growing number of countries in upgrading existing data collection instruments to generate SDG data with minimal additional burden on national statistical systems. For example, FAO has supported countries adapt both household and agricultural surveys to collect data on women’s access to land (SDG indicator 5.a.1). However, integrating the full recommended set of questions into existing surveys is a time-consuming process, made more difficult by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on national statistical operations. Therefore, FAO has also pursued a parallel track of re-processing the results of existing surveys that have the potential of providing sufficient data for calculating proxy estimates of the designed indicators. For SDG indicator 5.a.1, these include the EHCMV surveys conducted in eight West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) member states in 2018, and the Demographic and Household Surveys (DHS) conducted in many developing countries on a 3–5-year cycle. This two-pronged approach has increased the country coverage of this indicator by more than three times between 2020 and 2021.

3. Has your organization published or is it planning to publish any analytical work or guidance note or toolkits to guide and support recovery efforts from COVID-19 while advancing SDG implementation at national, regional and global levels? Please select up to three high-impact resources to highlight, especially those that address interlinkages among the SDGs.

Name: 2021 "Tracking progress on food and agriculture-related SDG indicators"
Publishing entity: FAO
Relevant SDGs: SDGs 1, 2, 5, 6, 10, 12, 14, 15
Target audience:  
Resource description:

Six years into the 2030 Agenda, there is an urgent need to understand where the world stands in eliminating hunger and food insecurity, as well as in ensuring sustainable agriculture. FAO's new report, “Tracking progress on food and agriculture-related SDG indicators”, offers analysis and trends on indicators across eight SDGs (1, 2, 5, 6, 10, 12, 14 and 15), highlighting areas of progress and areas where further effort is needed. Available in digital format, this year’s edition also discusses, for the first time, selected indicators for which FAO is a contributing agency and/or have key implications for food and agriculture across these Goals. These additional indicators provide valuable information on agricultural losses due to disasters, the distribution of land tenure rights, and the impact of international trade policies and regulations on agricultural trade, especially in developing and Least Developed Countries. Among the areas in which the world is falling behind or making negligible progress:

• The COVID-19 pandemic might have pushed an additional 83-132 million into chronic hunger in 2020, making the target of ending hunger even more distant.

• An unacceptably high proportion of food (14 percent) is lost along the supply chain before it even reaches the consumer

• Agricultural systems bear the brunt of economic losses due to disasters

• Small-scale food producers remain disadvantaged, with women producers in developing countries earning less than men even when more productive

• Food price volatility has increased, due to the constraints placed by the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns • Progress remains weak in maintaining plant and animal genetic diversity for food and agriculture

• Gender inequalities in land rights are pervasive

• Discriminatory laws and customs remain obstacles to women's tenure rights

• Water stress remains alarmingly high in many regions, threatening progress towards sustainable development

• Although many new social protection measures have been introduced in 2020, 4 billion people worldwide are still left without any social protection, the majority of whom are poor and vulnerable . But the report also points to several areas in which progress is being made. These include: implementing measures against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing; sustainable forest management; eliminating agricultural export subsidies; investment to boost agricultural productivity in developing countries; and duty-free access for developing and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) particularly for agricultural products.



Name: The State of Food Security Nutrition in the World 2021 (SOFI)
Publishing entity: FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP, WHO
Relevant SDGs SDGs 2
Target audience:  
Resource description: Globally, the world is not on track to achieve targets for any of the nutrition indicators by 2030. The current rate of progress on child stunting, exclusive breastfeeding and low birthweight is insufficient, and progress on child overweight, child wasting, anemia in women of reproductive age and adult obesity is stalled or the situation is worsening. World hunger increased in 2020 under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic; between 720 and 811 million people in the world faced hunger in 2020. This means that around 120 million more people were facing hunger in 2020 than in 2019. After remaining virtually unchanged for five years, the prevalence of undernourishment (PoU) increased 1.5 percentage points in just one year – reaching a level of around 9.9 percent. Around 660 million people may still face hunger in 2030, in part due to lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on global food security –30 million more people than in a scenario in which the pandemic had not occurred. Globally, malnutrition in all its forms also remains a challenge. Although it is not yet possible to fully account for the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020, it is estimated that 22.0 percent (149.2 million) of children under 5 years of age were affected by stunting, 6.7 percent (45.4 million) were suffering from wasting and 5.7 percent (38.9 million) were overweight. The actual figures are expected to be higher because of the pandemic. Depending on context, there are six pathways to follow towards food systems transformation: integrating humanitarian, development and peacebuilding policies in conflict-affected areas; scaling up climate resilience across food systems; strengthening resilience of the most vulnerable to economic adversity; intervening along the food supply chains to lower the cost of nutritious foods; tackling poverty and structural inequalities, ensuring interventions are pro-poor and inclusive; and strengthening food environments and changing consumer behavior to promote dietary patterns with positive impacts on human health and the environment.


Name: Mitigating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on food and nutrition of schoolchildren- interim guidance note
Publishing entity: WFP, FAO and UNICEF
Relevant SDGs SDGs 1, 4
Target audience: government decision-makers, school administrators/ staff and partners
Resource description:

This joint note from WFP, FAO and UNICEF intended to provide government decision makers, school administrators/staff and partners with preliminary guidance on how to support, transform or adapt school feeding (in the short term) to help safeguard schoolchildren’s food security and nutrition during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specific recommendations were provided according to the various target groups involved in school feeding. An additional section was focused on homegrown school feeding. Main recommendations included: Where schools are closed

• Maintain flexibility and responsiveness to changing conditions for supply and distribution of food and provision of nutrition services, while ensuring compliance with COVID-19 protocols.

• Use available resources to safeguard schoolchildren’s food security and nutrition. • Build upon existing safety-net structures to cover vulnerable schoolchildren.

• Ensure food and nutrition needs of vulnerable schoolchildren are considered when designing any large-scale national response to COVID-19.

• Plan for the future reopening of schools, if possible, with specific benchmarks. Where schools are open

• Comply with COVID-19 prevention protocols.

• Promote optimal water, sanitation and hygiene services and ensure optimal hygiene and other key behaviors of children, teachers and foodservice staff/volunteers, school canteens and regulation of food vendors.

• Ensure and continue the provision of essential school health and nutrition package (school feeding, micronutrient supplementation, deworming, malaria prevention and oral hygiene)

• Avoid potential deterioration in food safety standards

• Ensure adequate nutrition content of meals.

• Create contingency plans for the distribution of meals/food baskets in preparation for potential rapid closure of schools.



4. How has your organization engaged with stakeholder groups to support SDG implementation and COVID-19 recovery at national, regional and global levels? Please provide main highlights, including any lessons learned. If your organization has established multi-stakeholder partnerships in this regard, please describe them (objectives, partners involved, relevant SDGs, Member States benefiting from the partnership) and provide links to relevant websites, if applicable.

Name: World Food Forum 
Partners: (please list all partners) TBC
Relevant SDGs SDGs 2, 3, 4, 5, 13, 14, 15, 17
Member States benefiting from the initiative:  
Description: The World Food Forum (WFF) is an independent global network of partners, created for and led by youth, to spark a movement to transform our agri-food systems and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including “Zero Hunger”. Aligning with the core principles of the 2021 United Nations (UN) Food Systems Summit, the WFF served in October 2021 as the premier platform to engage and harness the passion of youth, identifying solutions to the growing challenges facing our agri-food systems. Formed and led by youthful staff, FAO’s Youth Committee was established in 2019 to tap into the potential of young employees as catalysts for change and to spark a global youth movement. Many youth partners from across the UN, as well as public and private institutions have since associated themselves with the WFF, and now embody a truly youth-led forum that works as a network for the transformation of our agrifood systems. More than 75 youth partners from across the UN system, as well as public and private institutions, have joined the Forum. The space functions as a truly youth-led and global network working for the transformation of agri-food systems. The World Food Forum offers a global platform to engage and harness the passion of youth by raising awareness; fostering engagement; and driving transformation. It can also facilitate global dialogue on key themes such policy, innovation, education, and culture. Website: Name: Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) The FAO in the framework of its membership within the Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development (IANYD), in which the Organization partners with over UN entities and youth organizations, has supported various initiatives towards and with youth, in particularly, in 2021, in the recovery from the COVID-19. In the 2021 ECOSOC youth forum, in collaboration with IANYD members, FAO has led the session "A people-centric response", intended to bring together the contribution of young people in their communities in support of SDG 2 (Zero Hunger) and SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-being).


Name: Arab Ministerial Forum 2021- The future of Social Protection in the Arab Region: building a vision for post- COVID-19 reality
Partners: (please list all partners)
Regional UN Issue Based Coalition (IBC) for Social Protection including ILO, UNICEF, ESCWA, FAO, IOM, WHO, UNDP,WFP
Relevant SDGs SDGs 1, 2, 8
Member States benefiting from the initiative: All Arab Member States
Description: In response to the impacts of COVID19, the Regional UN Issue Based Coalition (IBC) for Social Protection, coordinated by UNICEF and ILO, organized a high-level Ministerial Forum with the Ministers responsible for social protection in the Arab region and representatives of employers and workers organizations and civil society as well as regional social protection experts were also invited. Based on the lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis and developments in the social protection field in recent years, the Forum aimed to:  - Reflect on and formulate a social protection vision and declaration of principles for the countries in the Arab Region in the post-COVID recovery phase  - Identify priority areas for support from the UN (at regional and/or country levels) Based on this Forum, a Ministerial Declaration was published and disseminated, stating key guiding principles for strengthening social protection systems in the region.


Name: Improving Capacity Building in Rural Finance (CABFIN)
Partners: (please list all partners) FAO, IFAD, World Bank, GIZ, UNCDF, WFP ,CGAP
Relevant SDGs SDGs 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 17
Member States benefiting from the initiative:  
Description: FAO is a member and the implementing agency of the Improving Capacity Building in Rural Finance (CABFIN), a partnership comprised of FAO, IFAD, World Bank, GIZ, UNCDF, WFP and CGAP, with the aim of facilitating knowledge dissemination and capacity development for relevant public and private stakeholders working to increase the availability of a wide range of inclusive financial services adapted to the needs of rural livelihoods, thus, contributing to rural development and poverty reduction.   In the context of COVID-19, the CABFIN partnership has increased its focus on providing global users with knowledge of inclusive rural finance and improving the capacity of stakeholders through regular updates of knowledge products, organizing webinars and release of monthly Newsletter.  Recent outputs include 21 technical publications (15 published, six forthcoming in 2021–22); 20 technical webinars; 58 monthly newsletters in three languages (EN/FR/SP/CN), and several blogs and technical workshops.  CABFIN partners also sought to facilitate dialogue among stakeholders to define priorities to be addressed and undertake joint activities to help overcome those obstacles limiting access to agricultural and rural finance. The Rural Finance and Investment Learning Centre (RFILC) is the flagship output of CABFIN as a knowledge platform managed by the Inclusive Rural Transformation and Gender Equality (ESP) in FAO. Through the RFILC, the CABFIN gathers a user network that disseminates the most relevant resource documents and capacity development material worldwide


Name: Cooperation with Consumers International 
Partners: (please list all partners) Consumers International
Relevant SDGs SDGs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 10, 12, 14, 15, 17
Member States benefiting from the initiative: Global
Description: FAO signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Consumers International in 2017 which was renewed in 2020. This MoU seeks to develop, promote, and strengthen joint actions and projects to improve food security and nutrition, working towards the full realization of the right to adequate food worldwide, sustainable consumption and in pursuance of a common vision towards a food system transformation that will end malnutrition in all its forms. It further aims to strengthen knowledge, evidence, and communication across food systems to deliver sustainable, nutritious and safe food for all and to strengthen the role of consumer organizations in global events. Within the framework of this MoU, FAO organized two webinars during 2021 with consumer organizations in the Africa region (Francophone and Anglophone) bringing them together to discuss their role in driving the right to adequate food, global events such as the UN Food Systems Summit and the Nutrition for Growth Summit and the impact of COVID-19 on their work. Furthermore, FAO produced two publications in 2021 on the important work of consumer organizations for the realization of the right to adequate food: “Consumer organizations and the right to adequate food – Making the connections” showcases how the work of consumer organizations contributes towards securing the right to adequate food for all at local, national, regional, and global level and seeks to reinforce their place as vital partners at the policy and decision-making table. It is also intended to support consumer organizations in their awareness raising, and capacity development efforts towards even greater impact. As a complement to this first publication, “Consumer organizations in action – A collection of practices driving the right to adequate food” presents the work of a selection of consumer organizations around the world in securing the right to adequate food. It aims to be of use to multi-sector partnerships and the whole community of consumer organizations, to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and skills, and to foster collaborations around thematic areas. Both publications draw on support provided, and experiences shared by Consumers International and a selection of its member organizations. FAO also prepared visual materials including a short video on the important role consumers can play towards sustainable consumption and the right to adequate food.
Website:   FAO. 2021. Consumer organizations and the right to adequate food – Making the connections. Rome. Available at:  FAO. 2021. Consumer organizations in action – A collection of practices driving the right to adequate food. Rome. Available at:


Name: UN Nutrition 
Partners: (please list all partners) Multiple UN agencies are members of UN Nutrition, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which is one of the founding agencies with permanent representation on the entity’s global steering committee alongside the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) currently represent other UN agencies on the steering committee, serving a two-year term on a rotational basis. At the country level, membership is directly determined by the resident UN agencies and involves as many as 16 UN agencies.[1]  As part of UN Nutrition’s engagement in the SUN Movement, it also collaborates with the other main SUN networks ‒ the Business Network (SBN), the Civil Society Network (SDN) and the Donor Network (SDN) ‒ as well as additional networks in some countries, such as the Parliamentarian Network in Chad and the SUN Research and Academic Platform (SUNRAP) in Zimbabwe.
Relevant SDGs Nutrition is directly or indirectly related to all of the SDGs. Subsequently, the work of UN Nutrition leverages the potential of nutrition to drive progress towards the achievement of all SDGs.
Member States benefiting from the initiative: All member states, specifically those mentioned in the description below benefit directly and indirectly from the coordination of UN agencies for positive impacts on nutrition outcomes facilitated by the UN Nutrition. 
Description: Strengthened nutrition actions in the COVID-19 response With the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, UN Nutrition was able to quickly adapt its focus and deliver a range of knowledge products which brought to light the devastating impacts of the pandemic on nutrition of vulnerable populations and to foster policy cohesion within the global COVID-19 response. All UN Nutrition members, within their individual mandates and capacities, substantially contributed to the food and nutrition-related COVID-19 response. The Secretariat developed and continually updated a comprehensive list of resources[2] on food systems and nutrition actions from UN agencies, to provide governments and other stakeholders a ‘one stop shop’ to access the rapid expansion of UN knowledge and initiatives related to nutrition in the COVID-19 response. This list is continually updated and expanded throughout as more knowledge resources become available.  To expand the knowledge base on COVID-19 nutrition-related impacts, the Secretariat carried out an online survey from 15 to 30 April 2020 to gain insights into the food and nutrition disruptions people around the world were facing due to the pandemic and associated measures to contain its spread. The survey was completed by 2,015 individuals from 118 countries. Resilient food environments are needed to ensure food security during shocks. The survey indicated that mobility restrictions, reduced vendor access, produce shortages, and loss of purchasing power were common food security barriers, indicating that policy actions need to harness the synergistic effects of diversified food sources to build resilience within food environments during and beyond the pandemic. Respondents described adaptive behaviors, including trends towards home cooking, awareness of food waste and health, and community food participation that may be promoted to increase uptake of a healthy diet that benefits human and planetary health[3].   Importantly, the UN agencies coordinated for coherent support to catalyse the timely development of SUN Movement communication products on nutrition and COVID-19[4]. Furthermore, the Secretariat supported governments with the nutrition aspects of the COVID-19 response in multiple countries (e.g., Guatemala, Indonesia, Lesotho, Liberia, Peru, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tanzania). This encompassed a range of activities including mainstreaming nutrition into national COVID-19 response plans and/or supporting the development of nutrition response plans, providing technical assistance on adapting national protocols and guidance to support the continuity of essential nutrition services, and developing shock-response and nutrition-sensitive social protection models. It also provided a platform for the UN to harmonize nutrition messages and social and behavioural change communication materials on the promotion of breastfeeding and food safety in the face of COVID-19. Furthermore, it provided a venue to converge UN efforts regarding vulnerability assessments (e.g., in Mali) and analysis of the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 and its resounding crises (e.g. Honduras), generating valuable inputs for advocacy, programming and resource mobilization activities. In 58 out of the 61 SUN countries (95%), the Secretariat contributed to advocacy that underscored the links between COVID-19 and nutrition, such as a UN joint statement on Food Security and Nutrition in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic in Indonesia, helping to maintain nutrition as a priority amidst the pandemic. Similar joint statements have been issued since 2020 regarding the impact of the pandemic on food security and nutrition and what needs to be prioritized in Cambodia. Further information is outlined in the 2020 UNN4SUN annual report[5].  Furthermore, the COVID-19 crisis underscored the value of collective action and gave rise to UN joint programming in some countries, such as Cambodia, Ethiopia, Malawi, Lesotho, and Peru. In November 2020, the Government of Lesotho and the UN launched the Maximum Intervention Programme[6]. The programme brings together the efforts of FAO, UNICEF, and WFP to help diversify diets through food assistance, the promotion of vegetable production and awareness-raising on recommended infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices, targeting vulnerable districts. UN Nutrition has helped to catalyze the formulation of joint programmes, such as an emerging FAO/WFP fortification programme in Chad to improve complementary feeding in young children and an FAO/UNIDO programme to strengthen value chain of moringa in Ethiopia towards mutually reinforcing nutrition, gender and economic goals.  FAOs collaborative leadership with other UN agencies in UN Nutrition has been pivotal to the multitude of accomplishments as part of a coherent response to the evolving ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic.   Through this coordination mechanism, the UN system has efficiently and effectively responded to this global shock to protect nutrition through collective action that has amplified the response capacities of each agency individually.


Following the adoption of the 2019 SDG Summit declaration (GA resolution 74/4), where Member States outlined ten priority areas for accelerated action in SDG implementation, please highlight any major integrated and innovative policies or initiatives that your organization may have adopted in the following areas:

5.1 leaving no one behind;

5.2 mobilizing adequate and well-directed financing;

5.3 enhancing national implementation;

5.4 strengthening institutions for more integrated solutions;

1.4 Strengthening institutions for more integrated solutions FAO supports national governments in developing and delivering integrated solutions around social protection and rural development interventions, including for strengthening resilience among small scale producers. With specific reference to developing resilience, the Organization provides policy and programmatic support to systematically link social protection and anticipatory action – that is actions taken before a shock occurs in order to mitigate its impacts. In addition, FAO supports counterparts in this endeavor by developing training tools, such as an e-learning course on social protection and climate risk management, and by contributing to global capacity strengthening efforts such as with the ITC-ILO. • With the aim of leaving no one behind, the Organization has further strengthened its programme of work on rural youth, with focus on supporting youth agency in agri-food systems, youth employment and agripreneurship, youth contribution to digital transformation and overall resilience to Covid-19 related disruptions. A Rural Youth Action Plan (RYAP) was endorsed by the Committee on Agriculture (COAG) in 2020, starting implementation in 2021 with the goal of contributing to the realization of the SDGs by equally empowering young women and men. Further, in its new Strategic Framework 2022-2031, FAO prioritized "youth" among the crosscutting themes, acknowledging that, as future managers of our eco- and agri-food systems, youth need to be explicitly targeted to ensure inclusive economic development that is resilient to future crises and shocks and contributes to the realization of the SDGs. Based on knowledge generated in 2020 on youth needs and challenges during the pandemic (see info here on the digital engagement initiative launched to collect the voices of young agripreneurs and assess the impact of the pandemic on their businesses, also featured in FAO policy briefs and web stories as well as global partners' platforms), FAO enhanced and expanded its youth programme in over 20 countries, adopting multiple digital solutions. Innovative interventions included: the Green Agribusiness Fund (GAF) 2021 online Academy led by the youth-led agribusiness JR Farms and supported by FAO and the International Labour Organization (ILO); digital platforms like Chisparural.GT in Guatemala and the African Youth Agripreneurs (AYA), as well as online knowledge sharing opportunities like the independent dialogue on "The Y factor: youth role in agri-food system in the lead-up to the United Nations Food System Summit", the Festival Latinoamericano de de Juventudes Rurales and the Global Indigenous Youth Forum co-hosted by FAO on 16th, 17th and 18th of June with the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus, resulting in the Indigenous Youth Global Declaration on Sustainable and Resilient Food Systems. The AYA platform initiative was based on a digital readiness assessment conducted in partnership with the East Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF) and youth-led organizations in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. Finally, a policy convergence process on Promoting Youth Engagement and Employment in Agriculture and Food Systems started at the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) 49 Plenary on 13 October based on a related HLPE Report, towards a consensus on draft Policy Recommendations for adoption at CFS 50 in October 2022.

Also related to leaving no one behind as well as harnessing science, technology and innovation, FAO initiated and strengthened the work on green jobs – mostly through the KOICA-funded Green Jobs for Rural Youth Employment project (GJ4RYE) – to innovate in the promotion of green jobs related innovations, in particular for rural youth. Through this project currently implemented in Sierra Leone, Timor Leste, and Zimbabwe, FAO has been implementing an innovative approach aiming at fostering green jobs for rural youth through green entrepreneurship and waged employment. Via this approach, youth are provided with soft and sector-specific skills to prepare them to work in the green agriculture and economy sectors. Youth will also receive a two-year support through seed money for their green business start-ups or waged green employment opportunities.

 Always with the aim of leaving no one behind, in 2021, FAO continued to grow its work on migration around the globe to make migration a choice not a necessity, to facilitate rural mobility - minimizing the risks and maximizing the benefits of migration, and to promote resilience and agricultural livelihoods for migrants and host communities. This meant, for example, addressing adverse drivers of migration such as food insecurity and climate vulnerability in Central America, generating knowledge on rural migration dynamics in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, strengthening capacities on migration, rural development and resilience in East Africa, and providing support to displaced persons and returnees in Asia and the Pacific. It also meant providing support to migrants and their families in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has highlighted the essential role that migrants and remittances play in our food systems but also their persistent decent work deficits. See the Statement on the critical role of migrants issued for the UN Food Systems Summit. 2021 saw the birth of new tools such as the FAO-IOM Toolkit for Integrating Migration into Rural Development Interventions and the launch of the UN Network on Migration's Working Group on Climate Change and Migration, where FAO is playing an active role. An interesting innovation was introduced in Uganda, where FAO facilitated diaspora skills and investments transfer into youth-led agribusinesses, by organizing a diaspora agribusiness conference which is leading to the setup of a diaspora mentorship programme through the recently established Uganda Diaspora Agribusiness Network (UDAN). With the aim of Leaving no one behind, FAO has pioneered the Dimitra Clubs as a community engagement and a gender transformative approach in over 50 development and humanitarian assistance programmes. The Dimitra Clubs are informal groups of rural women and men of all ages who discuss their challenges and take collective action to overcome them using their own resources. In 2021, more than 6 500 Dimitra Clubs exist in sub-Saharan Africa, with 195 000 members (60 percent are women). Their actions are estimated to have benefited more than six million rural people.

With the aim of strengthening institutions for more integrated solutions and solving challenges through international cooperation and enhancing the global partnership, FAO is going to launch and implement the project under the Food Coalition on Farmers' Markets Networks. • In line with its commitment to leaving no one behind, FAO continued to strengthen its efforts to adopt a human rights-based approach to ensuring food security, inclusive agricultural production, and the realization of the right to adequate food for all. Consumer organizations reach out to a diverse and extensive audience, advocating on sustainable consumption, better nutrition, food safety, food pricing, fair trade, food labelling and the digital marketplace among others. FAO has cooperated with consumer organizations from around the globe to highlight and support their important role in promoting the right to food. This included the organization of two webinars for consumer organizations as well as the production of two publications on the impact of their work on the right to food for all. FAO also organized a series of virtual dialogues on food security and nutrition in the time of COVID-19 for parliamentarians, which offered room for exchange on the role of parliamentarians in strengthening the right to adequate food, for example through legislative and policy initiatives. During the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, FAO co-sponsored a side event led by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on “Advancing a human rights-based approach to climate action for people and planet”, highlighting the various impacts climate change has on the implementation of the Agenda 2030 and the realization of human rights, especially for the most marginalized and vulnerable.

5.5 bolstering local action;

5.6 reducing disaster risk and building resilience;

5.7 solving challenges through international cooperation and enhancing the global partnership;

5.8 harnessing science, technology and innovation with a greater focus on digital transformation for sustainable development;

5.9 investing in data and statistics for the SDGs; and

INVESTING IN DATA AND STATISTICS FOR THE SDGS As of March 2019, all 21 SDG indicators under FAO custodianship had international established methodologies, endorsed by the UN Statistical Commission. Since then, FAO's methodological work in support of SDG monitoring has increasingly focused on building countries’ statistical capacity on selected under-reported SDG indicators, as well as on the development of data disaggregation methods, progress assessment techniques and complementary indicator frameworks for monitoring private sector’s and project results’ compliance with the SDGs. Activities in support of building countries’ capacities in data collection and reporting include the delivery of large-scale, successful bilateral and regional virtual trainings on underreported indicators (2.3.1, 2.3.2, 2.4.1, 5.a.1, 5.a.2, 6.4.1 and 6.4.2); the refinement of methods, metadata guidelines and tools for facilitating the production of the indicators (2.3.1, 2.3.2, 2.4.1, 2.5.1, 6.4.2, 14.4.1 and 15.4.2); the improvement of the data validation processes for some indicators (2.1.2 and 15.4.2); and the delivery of targeted technical assistance at country-level (2.1.1, 2.1.2, 2.3.1, 2.3.2, 2.4.1, 2.a.1, 2.5.2, 5.a.1 and 5.a.2). The capacity development activities supporting the production and reporting of SDG indicators have focused on collecting nationally representative information by upgrading official national survey instruments, adopting new data collection tools and leveraging new or alternative data sources such as Big data and geospatial data. This multi-pronged approach has been decisive in raising the average reporting rate for countries with respect to the 21 SDG indicators under FAO custodianship, which went from 42.9 percent in 2019 to 46 percent in 2020, and then to 53.7 percent in 2021, crossing the 50 percent barrier for the first time. In addition, to ensure universal access to training material on the SDG indicators, FAO has introduced innovative learning methodologies and delivery solutions involving multiple stakeholders, such as experience-sharing events and live interviews, synchronous and asynchronous e-learning courses, mobile responsive programmes, technical webinars and online tutored blended learning programmes. In November 2021, the cumulative total number of learners of the 15 FAO SDG Indicator e-learning courses -- available in 43 language versions -- was 21,300; of these, almost 500 learners have also been officially certified with the new Digital Badges, conditional on passing a final scenario-based performance evaluation with a score of 75 percent or higher. From a methodological standpoint, over the past two years, FAO has invested in two more major areas of support to the SDG monitoring: the development of guidelines for data disaggregation and private sector reporting. On the first, FAO issued new Guidelines on data disaggregation for SDG indicators using survey data in 2021. These respond to the 2030 Agenda overarching call to “leave no one behind”, which requires more granular and disaggregated data than are currently available in most countries. In line with the IAEG-SDG’s data disaggregation workstream, these Guidelines offer methodological and practical guidance for producing direct and indirect disaggregated estimates of SDG indicators that use surveys as their main or preferred data source. Furthermore, the Guidelines provide tools to assess the accuracy of these estimates and presents strategies for the improvement of output quality, including Small Area Estimation methods. Concerning the second area of work, in 2021 FAO published a new Guidance on core indicators for agri-food systems: Measuring the private sector’s contribution to the SDGs. The document highlights a set of indicators which can be used by the private sector and feed into national level reporting on the SDGs. The indicators build on UNCTAD’s broader Guidance on core indicators for entity reporting on the contribution towards the implementation of the SDGs (2019) and are focused specifically on the food and agriculture sector. As such, the Guidance provides practical information on how food and agriculture companies’ contribution to the SDGs can be measured in a consistent manner across countries, applicable to both large and small private sector organizations. Moving forward, FAO plans to scale up capacity development support to countries to allow them to produce a growing number of the SDG indicators under FAO custodianship. In parallel, more emphasis will be placed on supporting countries in using the available data for evidence-based policy-making, in order to help them achieve the goals and targets set out in the 2030 Agenda.

5.10    strengthening the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).


6.  In the lead up to the 2023 HLPF to be held under the auspices of the General Assembly (or 2023 SDG Summit), please provide your organization’s recommendations on how to overcome challenges to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the achievement of the SDGs, taking into account the thematic reviews and voluntary national reviews conducted to date.

In 2023, the HLPF will address the theme ‘Accelerating the recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at all levels.’ SDGs to be in-depth reviewed are: SDGs 6 (clean water and sanitation); 7 (affordable and clean energy); 9 (industry. innovation, and infrastructure); 11 (sustainable cities and communities); and 17 (partnerships for the Goals). UN member States have agreed that 2030 Agenda review processes will: be “open, inclusive, participatory and transparent for all people” and will support reporting by all relevant stakeholders; and be people-centered, gender-sensitive, respect human rights and have a particular focus on the poorest, most vulnerable and those furthest behind. From this perspective, FAO recommends including indigenous communities as key actors in sustainable forestry and enhance attention and resources to support innovation and digital solution adoptions to support agri food systems transformation. FAO could recommend addressing the theme of innovation in agrifood systems, inclusion and natural resources as a priority. To move forward successfully on addressing SDG implementation challenges, FAO could support countries in solving problems of compartmentalization and fragmentation, referred to as a ‘silo mentality’ in the agrifood systems. Partnerships with the research, consumers’ and workers’ and community based-producers' organizations are key. The private sector is, in many instances, able to deliver innovations but partnerships with the private sector should not compromise UN´s position as a neutral platform/convener. FAO also could recommend further analysis on the trade-offs, particularly in terms of production increases in agri-foods systems versus maintenance of the natural resource base, zero hunger and leaving no one behind. For that, the UN could partner with technical innovators, acting as a magnet to attract technologies, while focusing on policies and processes in line with its mandate as a neutral platform. The 2023 HLPF will also coincide with the UN Food Systems Summit stock-taking and the following messages could be reemphasized and revisited 1. The human right to adequate food should be one of the principles on which societies are organized. Promoting the realization of the right to adequate food for all will help overcoming some of the challenges to the implementation of SDGs, most notably regarding the eradication of hunger and poverty, the reduction of inequalities and the promotion of health, education, and gender equality. 2. Considering the centrality of land in food production and the key role that agricultural production plays for many rural households' own consumption in developing countries, equitable and secured tenure rights to land are fundamental to promote food security and the sustainable use of land and related natural resources. 3. The true cost of food should incorporate negative externalities, while relevant policies should ensure food affordability for the poor and the most vulnerable. 4. International trade is one of the key drivers in food systems transformation. To support sustainable and inclusive agri-food systems, it needs to be aligned with the SDGs. 5. Skills gaps among farmers limit food system change ambitions. 6. The importance of promoting decent work (including for youth, women and indigenous populations) and living incomes and wages and social protection. 7. Inclusive food system development requires an improvement of working conditions in food systems and additional efforts for the protection of food workers' interests, including small scale producers and migrant workers. 8. Sustainable food systems development should also consider the inclusion and promotion of decent jobs that contribute to preserving or restoring the environment 9. Food systems transformation requires major systemic reforms, not just incremental marginal changes. The question of long-term reform versus urgent responses poses a dilemma for policy- makers, which deserves to be evaluated at the country level. Women play critical roles in food systems, as producers, processors, traders, entrepreneurs, and decision-makers. They comprise over 48 % of the rural agricultural labour force in low-income countries, and also participate considerably in livestock, fisheries and forestry sub-sectors. Furthermore, women act as resilience builders and guardians of household food security and traditional agricultural knowledge, which is key for successful mitigation of economic and environmental shocks. Nonetheless, rural women continue to face multiple socio-economic constraints that weaken their ability to benefit from the evolving dynamics of agrifood systems. Evidence shows that women are systematically disadvantaged relative to men regarding their rights to agricultural land. This is true for all dimensions of land rights: ownership, management, transfer and usufruct rights. Limited access to land undermines women's productivity, access to services and credit, and membership in rural organizations. Similarly, women face widespread discrimination in rural labor markets, and are consequently over-represented in informal, part-time, and low-wage jobs, often without social security. Food security and nutrition needs of rural women and girls can often be neglected, especially in households with patriarchal norms. Evidence across all continents shows that women are more food insecure than men, a situation that has worsened due to the COVID-19 pandemic. FAO's 2021 State of Food Security and Nutrition Report ( finds that globally the gender gap in food insecurity has reached 10% in 2020, compared to 6% in 2019. Discriminatory social norms and stereotypes continue to limit women's freedom of choice, mobility and participation in decision making and public life. Disasters and shocks (e.g., COVID-19) pose serious threats to women's economic engagement, while also increasing their domestic work burden, diminishing their access to key services, and escalating their exposure to gender-based violence. These challenges further undermine women's capacity to engage in food systems on an equal basis with men. Women's empowerment is undoubtedly a major development issue. It also represents a key avenue for fighting hunger, improving nutrition, reducing rural poverty, and making agrifood systems more productive, inclusive, efficient, and climate-smart, in line with the 2030 Agenda. While many conventional approaches for empowering rural women continue to be perfectly relevant (e.g. eliminating gender-based discrimination under the law), there is an urgent need to move beyond one-dimensional interventions towards more holistic transformation of agrifood systems. FAO's experience indicates that five areas of intervention are key for women's empowerment in the context of the SDGs: 1) Women constitute a very significant percentage of workers in the agricultural sector and have a major impact on nutrition worldwide. As such, securing their tenure rights and strengthening their access to land will help improve the functioning of food systems. 2) Expand rural women's access to and control over productive resources and technologies, services, markets, decent employment, and social protection. 3) Ensure that positive change occurs in women's and men's consciousness, capacities, and behavior. Rural women need to be empowered to articulate their aspirations and claim their rights. 4) Challenge the gender-biased social norms, attitudes and practices that impede women's empowerment in rural households, communities and beyond. 5) Ensure that policies, programmes and institutional arrangements are gender responsive, thereby reinforcing women's empowerment in agrifood systems. In this regard, FAO could further recommend increased investment in empowering rural women through innovative gender-lens investing. Gender-lens investing has been attracting investors' attention as part of global discourse on innovative development finance and ESG investment due to its greater economic returns and a positive impact on the society. Given the significant contribution of and yet investment gaps towards rural women described above, increased investment should be advocated for empowering rural women. On gender, recommendations for the governments include: - Conduct diagnoses and social characterizations of the populations in vulnerable situations, considering factors such as sex, ethnicity, geographical location, type of employment and age status. - Remove possible entry barriers based on gender biases to existing policies, programmes and projects, and increase the investment in those that aim to reduce the gender gaps. - Activate the role of the private sector in the development of programs that guarantee decent employment for women and men. - Invest in the leadership of women and involve them in the planning the response to COVID-19.

Relevant publications:

ECESA Plus Member
Year of submission: 2021