Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

HQ: Rome, Italy

Focal Point: Tina Mittendorf


Key Figures: Greenhouse gas emissions

Key Figures: Waste

Key Figures: Water


Director-General's message


“I believe we must all work together to ensure that everyone, everywhere has access to food, while taking care of our planet's limited resources.”

Qu Dongyu, Director-General, 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 in 2014, a new waste separation system has been introduced in 2018 and 30% reduction in electricity consumption has been achieved in the last six years.
Thanks to the 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.

In the past two years, energy meters were installed in 17 FAO Decentralized Offices; two solar PV systems were installed at the FAO Representation in Djibouti and the UN House Nepal in 2018; and three more PV systems are going to be installed by the end of 2019 at the FAO Regional Office for Africa in Ghana and in the FAO Representations in Mauritania and Uganda.


EMS and Reduction efforts


-    EMS implemented at FAO HQ in 2014 and launched in the first pilot decentralised office (Bangkok) at the end of  2018.
-    Grid tied 14 kWp PV system installed in Djibouti and hybrid sytem (120 kWp PV + 204-kWh lithium batteries) the UN House Nepal in collaboration with other UNDP, WHO and UNICEF.
-    LED lighting installation with motion sensors
-    Hybrid PV system under development at FAO Mauritania country office (20 kWp, 36 kWh battery storage)
-    Hybrid PV system under development at FAO Uganda country office (20 kWp, 15 kWh battery storage)
-    Grid-tied solar PV system under development at the FAO Regional Office for Africa in Ghana (105 kWp)



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

The average recycling rate registered across the whole organization is 26%


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
-    Implementation of single-use plastic ban policy
-    Intelligent use of air conditioning policy and guidelines
-    Enhancing behavioural changes and good practices between employees

Next steps


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

-    5.4% CO2 emissions overall;
-    More energy efficiency projects in Decentralized Offices (DOs);
-    Sustainable water use;
-    Circular Economy: more sustainable procurement and better waste management;
-    Environmental Management Systems for key Decentralized Offices.

FAO is currently working on the development of a new Strategy to cover for the next ten years to come, in line with the UN Sustainability Strategy 2020-2030.


Corporate Environmental Responsibility website

Corporate Environmental Responsibility Policy

Strategy 2017-2020

FAO Strategy on Climate Change 

Greening FAO HQ Video

Corporate Environmental Responsibility reports: 2019 Report, 2018 Report, 2017 Report, 2016 Report, 2015 Report



FAO case studies