About FAO

The United Nations General Assembly declares the “International Year of Quinoa” with FAO serving as the Secretariat of the IYQ, assisting the International Committee to coordinate the celebrations. Quinoa’s legacy is celebrated at headquarters with Peru and Bolivia during World Food Week. Also, this year a new partnership agreement is signed with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC),the world’s largest humanitarian network, to help improve food security and strengthen the resilience of vulnerable communities. FAO and the IFRC agree that FAO will provide technical guidance to complement IFRC’s extensive network of 13 million volunteers – who in turn reach some 150 million people – to assist poor households cope with threats and disasters that impact agriculture, food security and nutrition.

In a landmark decision the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) endorsed the new Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security on 11 May 2012.  FAO launched a major fund-raising campaign with the aim of securing USD 20 million to translate into action the guidelines, aimed at helping governments safeguard the rights of people to own or access land, forests and fisheries. For the 2012 International Year of Cooperatives, FAO took the lead and partnered with WFP and IFAD and others to help the focus on improving the lives of millions of smallholder farmers and their families. 

In a historic victory of veterinary science, FAO and OIE announced that thanks to a decades-long international cooperative effort, the fatal cattle disease known as rinderpest had successfully been eradicated in the wild. In July, FAO declared a state of famine in two regions of Somalia and appealed for US$120 million for response to the drought across the Horn of Africa. FAO Member countries elected José Graziano da Silva of Brazil as Director-General, to take office in January 2012.
As the worst floods ever to hit Pakistan wiped out seed stores and killed millions of head of livestock, FAO responded with distribution of wheat seed to half a million farming families in time for the planting season. An additional 235 000 families received feed, medicine and shelter for their animals.

FAO holds a World Summit on Food Security on 16-18 November to inject new urgency into the fight against hunger. Sixty heads of state and government and 192 ministers unanimously adopt a declaration pledging renewed commitment to eradicate hunger from the Earth at the earliest date


FAO holds a high-level conference on 3–5 June on the impact of climate change and the biofuel boom on food security and food prices. Attended by 43 heads of state and 100 government ministers, the conference adopted a resolution to increase assistance and investment in developing world agriculture. The 16th session of the UN Assembly invites FAO to facilitate the “International Year of Potato.”  The resolution noted that the potato is a staple food in the diet of the world’s population, and affirmed the role that the potato could play in achieving internationally agreed development objectives, including the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

All 119 countries at FAO’s Committee on Fisheries in Rome agree on a proposal to develop a legally binding measure to tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing practices, which cause severe economic, social, biological and environmental damage.

FAO unveils its high-tech Crisis Management Centre to fight bird flu and other animal health or food safety emergencies. The service monitors disease outbreaks and dispatches experts to any hot spot in the world in under 48 hours. Together with the Government of Brazil, FAO organizes the International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ICARRD) to explore new development opportunities to revitalize rural communities worldwide.

The 60th anniversary of FAO’s founding celebrated in a ceremony attended by Heads of State and Government, Ministers and other dignitaries from all regions of the world.
FAO launches an eight-year project to help countries implement its ‘Strategy for Improving Information on Status and Trends in Capture Fisheries’ and improve their collection and dissemination of fisheries data.

FAO announces the entering into force of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, an essential legally binding agreement that encourages sustainable agriculture through the equitable sharing of genetic material and its benefits among plant breeders, farmers and public and private research institutions. In the same year we facilitate the implementation of the International Year of Rice (IYR) to promote improved production and access to this crop which feeds more than half of the world’s population whilst providing income for millions of rice producers, processors and traders. 

Following two years of intergovernmental negotiations mandated by the “World Food Summit: Five years later”, the Council of FAO unanimously adopts the Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Progressive Realization of the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security (Right to Food Guidelines)

World Food Summit: five years later, attended by delegations from 179 countries plus the European Commission, reaffirms the international community’s commitment to reduce the number of the undernourished by half by 2015.

FAO Conference adopts the legally binding International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, which supports the work of breeders and farmers everywhere.

FAO develops a strategy for concerted government and UN agency action to combat chronic hunger in the Horn of Africa, at the request of the United Nations Secretary-General.

FAO’s Committee on Fisheries adopts plans of action on fishing capacity, sharks and seabirds. FAO’s Fisheries Agreement Register (FARISIS) is built that provides up to 34 descriptor fields for each record and contains information on 1,927 agreements dating back to the year 1351.

An FAO-brokered legally binding convention to control trade in pesticides and other hazardous trade in chemicalsis adopted in Rotterdam (the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent).

FAO launches campaign against hunger initiative TeleFood. TeleFood ’97 reaches a global audience of 500 million.

FAO hosts 186 Heads of State or Government and other high officials at World Food Summit in November to discuss and combat world hunger. Heads of state and representatives adopt the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and World Food Summit Plan of Action.

FAO celebrates its 50th birthday. The Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries is adopted in October to provide a necessary framework for national and international efforts to ensure sustainable exploitation of aquatic living resources in harmony with the environment.

FAO launches the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS), targeting low-income food-deficit countries (LIFDCs).
The Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases (EMPRES), strengthening the Organization’s existing contribution to prevention, control and, when possible, eradication of diseases and pests, is established.
FAO begins the most significant restructuring since its founding to decentralize operations, streamline procedures and reduce costs.

FAO and  the World Health Organization (WHO) convene the first global conference devoted solely to addressing the world’s nutrition problems, the International Conference on Nutrition (ICN). Governments pledge to make all efforts to eliminate or reduce substantially before the next millennium, starvation and famine; widespread chronic hunger; undernutrition, especially among children, women and the aged; micronutrient deficiencies, especially iron, iodine and vitamin A deficiencies; diet-related communicable and non-communicable diseases; impediments to optimal breast-feeding; and inadequate sanitation, poor hygiene and unsafe drinking-water.

International Plant Protection Convention is ratified with 92 signatories.

AGROSTAT (now FAOSTAT), the world’s most comprehensive source of agricultural information and statistics, becomes operational.

The first World Food Day observed on 16 October by more than 150 countries.

FAO concludes 56 agreements for the appointment of FAO Representatives in developing member countries.

The Eighth World Forestry Congress, held in Jakarta, Indonesia, with the theme “Forests for people”, has a profound impact on attitudes towards forestry development and FAO’s work in this sector.

FAO’s Technical Cooperation Programme established to afford greater flexibility in responding to urgent situations.

UN World Food Conference in Rome recommends the adoption of an International Undertaking on World Food Security.

The FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission established to set international food standards becomes operational.

Freedom from Hunger campaign launched to mobilize non-governmental support.

FAO headquarters moved to Rome, Italy, from Washington, DC, the United States.

First session of FAO Conference, Quebec City, Canada, establishes FAO as a specialized United Nations agency.

Forty-four governments, meeting in Hot Springs, Virginia, the United States, commit themselves to founding a permanent organization for food and agriculture.