Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

HQ: Rome, Italy

Focal Point: Tina Mittendorf, Giulia Cavo 

Email: [email protected]

Internal Sustainability Team: One fulltime staff, one full time consultant and one/two interns

The entity may not report waste data for all its personnel. Please refer to the entity's personnel chart above for more information.
All entity personnel are included in the entity's greenhouse gas emission inventory.


“We need to radically transform our economies and behaviors, make sure that they are inclusive, green and sustainable”

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.

Field Offices 


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 32% reduction in electricity consumption has been achieved in the last seven years.
Thanks to the Corporate Environmental Responsibility Policy and Strategy 2017-2020, FAO has further committed to lower its environmental impact by more systematically expanding the scope of its activities to Decentralized Offices as well. Since 2016, solar systems have been successfully installed in the Regional office for Africa in Ghana, and in the country offices in Nepal, Djibouti, Uganda and Mauritania. The regional office for Asia and the Pacific is implementing an EMS and other initiatives such as single use plastic ban, improved waste management, lighting or HVAC upgrade etc. are taking place spontaneously in many offices.

A new Corporate Environmental Responsibility Strategy 2020-2030 is currently underway, to allow FAO to continue working on his corporate responsibility in the next decade and to respect the UN commitment and objectives outlined in the Strategy for Sustainability Management in the UN System 2020-2030 – Part I. Four of the five environmental impact areas, and the six management functions are included in the Strategy. (Biodiversity is treated separately, as FAO has recently launched the dedicated Strategy on mainstreaming biodiversity across agricultural sectors).


Thanks to the annual environmental inventory exercise, FAO is regularly monitoring its footprint and calculating the unavoidable GHG emissions related to the Organization’s operations. Accuracy of data has improved over the years, especially regarding decentralised offices.

Global FAO GHG emissions (scope1+2+3) have been reduced by 5.6% between 2015 and 2018.

At headquarters, GHG emissions from buildings and fleet (scopes 1+2) have been cut by 50% between 2012 and 2018 (while in decentralised offices GHG emissions from buildings have been reduced by 17% between 2016 and 2018. 


Emission reduction efforts are mandated by the Corporate Environmental Responsibility Policy and Strategy 2017-2020.

Main initiatives:

  • EMS implemented at FAO HQ in 2014 and launched in the first pilot decentralised office (Bangkok) at the end of  2018.
  • Grid-tied solar PV system installed at HQ (80 kWp)
  • Grid tied 14 kWp PV system installed in Djibouti and hybrid system (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 installed at FAO Mauritania country office (20 kWp, 36 kWh battery storage)
  • Hybrid PV system installed at FAO Uganda country office (20 kWp, 15 kWh battery storage
  • Grid-tied solar PV system installed at the FAO Regional Office for Africa in Ghana (105 kWp)
  • High efficiency HVAC equipment

Inventory Management Plans (IMPs)

The inventory covers all emission causing activities over which the FAO has financial and/or operational control. 

No. 164 buildings from n. 111 FAO Offices (i.e. countries where FAO is present, including Headquarters) reported 2019 related emissions. 

In addition to these, proxies were used to estimate the emissions from the other offices (minor offices) that had not participated in the environmental inventory exercise. 

Therefore, it can be stated that 100% offices are included in the FAO GHG Inventory.

The specific emission source are Purchased Electricity; Purchased Steam; Refrigerants; Stationary Combustion; Air travel; Mobile sources; Public Transport.

Several sources of greenhouse gas emissions that could result from FAO indirect activities are excluded (e.g. emissions from projects implemented by external entities, emissions due to couriers and postal mail, supply chain emissions etc.).


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. The amount of GHG emissions to offset every year correspond to the figures displayed on top of the page.

The offsetting is done for the whole Organization (HQ and all decentralised offices) and covers 100% of the areas where FAO has operational and/or financial control (buildings, fleet and official travels). 


At HQ, waste monitoring and waste separation is part of the waste management contract. Waste differentiation has been boosted in 2018 and awareness raising campaigns are periodically organized. So far, a general increase in waste separation has been observed (the recycling rate is around 70%), but no absolute reduction in waste generation, with the exception of plastic waste that has decreased by 4% between 2018 and 2019 thanks to the ban of single use plastic items in catering services.

In decentralised offices, waste reporting is mainly done through the annual environmental inventory exercise. Over the years, we have achieved a participation rate of 90% of the consulted offices. However, only 45% are able to provide reliable data, as consequence of precise estimation of waste production and separation. Also, only 48% of the reporting country offices declare to have recycling procedures in place, and the recycling rate is generally very low (average 7.5%). Often, this goes beyond the Organization responsibilities, because many countries lack a solid infrastructure and capacity to manage waste. 

Waste management is an area where FAO needs to focus its efforts in the next future, in line with the UN commitment and objectives outlined in the Strategy for Sustainability Management in the UN System 2020-2030 – Part I. 


Presently, water management only consists in monitoring water consumption at HQ and in decentralised offices through utility meters, and in raising awareness towards water saving measures and basic technologies. 

Water reporting is mainly done through the annual environmental inventory exercise. Over the years we have achieved a participation rate of 90% of the consulted offices, but only 30% were able to provide reliable data.

Water and wastewater management is an area where FAO needs to focus its efforts in the next future, in line with the UN commitment and objectives outlined in the Strategy for Sustainability Management in the UN System 2020-2030 – Part I.


  • 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
  • HVAC upgrade with HEPA filters to reduce internal air pollution 
  • Installation of hybrid solar systems to supply energy during normal operation and as backup source during grid outages, to avoid the use of diesel generators


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.

Recent News & Stories

The New Corporate Environmental Responsibility Strategy 2020 - 2030 of FAO has Been Launched - 3 June 2021