Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

HQ: Rome, Italy

Focal Point: Tina Mittendorf


Key Figures: Greenhouse gas emissions


N.B. The 2015 increase in emissions is mainly due to improved air travel emissions reporting. FAO is currently performing a gap analysis to adjust previous years’ calculations and provide a more realistic picture of the actual overall emissions and related performance trends.

Key Figures: Waste


Director-General's message


"Small things, small changes of habit. If we continue to do the same as we did until now we will not be able to avoid this 2 degrees increase. We need to change our personal habits. This is a small contribution, but it will help a lot. If everybody does something, we together can do a lot.”

José Graziano da Silva, Director-General, FAO

(source: Corporate Environmental Responsibility in FAO)




Achieving food security for all is at the heart of FAO's efforts – to make sure people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives.

Our three main goals are: the eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition; the elimination of poverty and the driving forward of economic and social progress for all; and, the sustainable management and utilization of natural resources, including land, water, air, climate and genetic resources for the benefit of present and future generations.


Experience so far


FAO dedicates a significant amount of resources assisting in the agricultural development of areas that are often those most vulnerable to climate change. We as an organization must effectively play our own part in combating climate change through GHG emissions reductions and sustainability management. Failing to do so would be hindering the efforts towards fulfilling FAO’s primary mandate for sustainable agriculture. 

Since around 2008, the organization has incorporated many in-house sustainability initiatives, primarily related to facilities, travel, and procurement. Many efforts have been made towards being more energy efficient and improving waste management, especially at the FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy – where an Environmental Management System has been developed. With the recently approved Corporate Environmental Responsibility Policy and Strategy 2017-2020, FAO is further committing to lower its environmental impact by more systematically expanding the scope of its activities to Decentralized Offices as well.


Reduction efforts

  • Installation of a Solar Photovoltaic System on the roof of the Plenary Hall at FAO Headquarters (HQ)’s.
  • Lighting upgrade of the HQ’s corridors with the installation of LED lamps and sensors.
  • Replacement of air handling units in two of the FAO main conference rooms - Green & Red Room.
  • Lighting upgrades in conference spaces, catering areas and restrooms at FAO HQ.
  • Inclusion of sustainability criteria in FAO HQ’s procurement of goods and services (e.g. catering, cleaning and multi-service, construction works contracts).
  • Launch of the FAO Commute programme, a carpooling internet application where interested staff can connect with others in the Organization to more easily arrange carpooling and ride-sharing.
  • Installation of more than 150 biking spaces and 6 reserved parking spots for car-poolers at FAO HQ.
  • Completion of elevator upgrades at FAO HQ which substantially improve efficiency and can even generate electricity at times using the load weight and counterweights of the system.
  • Replacement of old chillers with 3 more efficient HVAC chillers at FAO HQ.
  • Renovation of three medium size meeting rooms, incorporating sustainability aspects such as:
  • Solar tube lighting
  • Sustainable bamboo and wood (red-hearted beech and naturally curved-length planks) flooring, furniture and walls
  • Integrating recycling facilities
  • Efficient climate-control systems
  • High-efficiency lighting and media equipment
  • Energy and efficiency audit performed at the FAO Regional Office in Accra, Ghana. Technical specifications completed for a lighting upgrade in the same office
  • Installation of energy metres in Sierra Leone, Chile, Uganda, DRC, Gambia, Cuba, Djibouti, Ghana
  • Feasibility studies for the installation of a Solar PV systems in Decentralized Offices (e.g. Nepal, Ghana and Djibouti)
  • Publication of the FAO Corporate Environmental Responsibility Toolkit for country offices.
  • Sustainable events (e.g. International Conference on Nutrition 2, ICN2; 42 Committee on Food Security, CFS; 32 Committee on Fisheries, COFI; 23 Committee on Forestry, COFO; 24 Committee on Agriculture, COAG).
  • Reduction of air travel due to more stringent travel policies (Yearly no. 35 and no. 60 days travel limitation for respectively senior managers and technical officers; business class threshold for official travel is 12 hours; all travel will be in economy class regardless of flight duration for consultants’ appointment and repatriation).
  • Sustainable Procurement training delivered to n.45 HQ and international procurement officers. 



FAO has purchased Adaptation Fund Certified Emission Reductions from the Clean Development Mechanism for the purpose of compensating the unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions from the operations and travel of the Food and Agriculture Organization since 2014.


Waste management


FAO HQ has an advanced system of estimation of waste production, which contributes to the development awareness raising campaigns and ultimately progressive waste reductions.

Other 28 Decentralised Offices also report waste production through the FAO Country Office Information Network, COIN.


Other environmental measures

  • Development of the UN Common Services Package for LED lighting Solutions Version 1.0
  • Study of UN Practices for Waste Management in field offices, in collaboration with UN Environment

Next steps


FAO has produced a Strategy for the time period 2017-2020 to further reduce its environmental footprint by committing to:

  1. 5.4% CO2e emissions overall;
  2. More energy efficiency projects in Decentralized Offices (DOs);
  3. Sustainable water use;
  4. Circular Economy: more sustainable procurement and better waste management;
  5. Environmental Management Systems for key Decentralized Offices.

Corporate Environmental Responsibility website

Corporate Environmental Responsibility Policy

Strategy 2017-2020

FAO Strategy on Climate Change 

Greening FAO HQ Video

2016 Report

2015 Report



FAO case studies