The Permanent Representation in Rome

FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization)

Introduction movie:

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO, strives for a world free from hunger and malnutrition. Founded in 1945, FAO now has 194 member states and is represented in 130 countries around the world. First and foremost, FAO is the specialized UN-agency for  international food and agricultural policy, but there is more to the organization than that: FAO also functions as an independent knowledge center where renowned experts from all over the world come together, and actively supports countries with the development and implementation of norms and standards in the field.

FAO plays a central role in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger, a world without hunger in 2030. The knowledge that FAO has at its disposal is translated into action through development cooperation, such as technical assistance to governments and farmers in less developed countries and the provision of emergency assistance through early warning systems.

Furthermore, FAO stimulates policy dialogues at global, regional and national levels. FAO works on the basis of five strategic objectives, which also tackle cross-cutting themes such as gender, climate and biodiversity. These strategic objectives are as follows:

1. Help eliminate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition;
2. Make agriculture, forestry and fisheries more productive and sustainable;
3. Reduce rural poverty;
4. Enable inclusive and efficient agricultural and food systems
5. Increase the resilience of livelihoods to threats and crises

Decision-making processes within FAO are based on consensus between member states in various decision-making bodies such as the Conference of member states and the executive Council, in which the Netherlands participates on rotation basis. The Netherlands is very active within FAO, not only through the chairmanship of the Program Committee but also by regularly organizing side events and seminars on FAO-related topics.

World Food Programme (WFP)

Introduction movie:

The World Food Programme of the United Nations (WFP) was established in 1961 and has grown into the largest humanitarian organization in the world and is fully funded by voluntary donations. As the name suggests, this organization focuses on combating hunger and achieving global food security. WFP is mainly present in humanitarian crisis areas to provide food assistance to those affected by conflict and natural disasters. WFP is known for its ability to mobilize quickly during an emergency. With its double mandate, WFP covers the broad spectrum of development: from emergency response, to resilience building and the subsequent development phase. WFP cooperates with more than 1,000 national and international NGOs to provide food aid and to address the underlying causes of hunger.

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Each year, WFP supports on average 86.7 million people in around 83 countries. The international community has agreed to work towards achieving ‘zero hunger’ as one of the Sustainable Development Goals. At the moment, 1 in 9 people worldwide does not have enough to eat. According to WFP, food and food-related assistance is the key to breaking the cycle of hunger and poverty. At least three-quarters of the food that WFP distributes comes from developing countries. By buying food as close as possible to where it is needed, WFP tries to save time and money on transportation costs which simultaneously supports local economies. Increasingly, WFP meets people’s food needs through cash-based transfers, allowing beneficiaries to buy their own food locally. In addition to food assistance, WFP also has nutrition development programs, primarily aimed at mothers and children. For example, WFP has been implementing school feeding programs for over 50 years. Every year, WFP offers school meals to 16 million children in 60 countries. Furthermore, WFP also offers (logistic) services to the entire humanitarian community, including air passenger transport through the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service that fly to more than 280 locations worldwide.

The Netherlands has a seat and is represented in the Executive Board through the Permanent Representation in Rome. A large part of the effort is coordinated through regional groups. As a medium-sized donor, the Netherlands is a relatively influential partner in WFP. Moreover, due to the fact that the Netherlands is high on the list of core contributions, the Netherlands is seen as a constructive and serious discussion partner.

International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

Introduction movie:

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), founded in 1977, is both an International Financial Institution (IFI), and a specialized UN-Agency. IFAD presents itself as a niche player with a focus on smallholder farmers in rural areas where other (multilateral) organizations usually do not operate. The Fund invests in projects through loans and grants to local governments, that are converted into projects to help the rural poor in the country. IFAD achieves this by introducing, improving and strengthening food production systems in the countries. IFAD has three goals:

  1. Strengthening production capacity of the rural poor.
  2. Enhancing the benefits of market participation for the rural poor.
  3. Enhancing the sustainability and resilience to climate change of their economic activities.

The projects aim to achieve an inclusive and sustainable rural transformation, to eradicate poverty and hunger. All projects have four focus arias: climate & environment, gender, youth and nutrition. IFAD focusses on climate and environment to make rural agriculture more sustainable and rural households more resilient to climate change. Women are not yet recognized as real farmers everywhere and sometimes cannot even obtain land rights. By focusing on gender, IFAD hopes to achieve a broader agriculture participation. Among youths there is lack of participation too: they migrate to the city to seek employment. IFAD wants to make agriculture attractive to youths, to avoid the emptying out of rural areas. Lastly, IFAD’s focus on nutrition makes sure that rural people do not only eat enough food, but that the food is actually nutritious. IFAD has 176 member states. Different regional groups coordinate within IFAD in the form of ‘lists’. The Netherlands is part of List A, where other EU-countries are represented as well. Apart from that, the Netherlands is part of the Evaluation Committee, that is concerned with policy review, but in practice has also become a gateway for policy making.