Time for FAO to Shift to a Higher Gear

Originally published in October 2013 and updated January 2015

Press release | Podcast

Food security has arisen again on the development agenda. High and volatile food prices took a toll in 2007–08, and in many low-income countries agricultural yields have risen little, if at all, in the last decade. Moreover, food production in these poor countries is especially vulnerable to climate change. Meeting this demand is a global challenge.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is expected to lead the way in meeting this challenge and, with the arrival in 2012 of the first new director-general in 18 years, it has an opening to restructure itself to do so.

In this report, the CGD Working Group on Food Security considers how the FAO might be reenergized and restructured for greater impact on the global challenge of boosting agricultural productivity. It points out that the FAO, despite its respected status as the premier global food agency, risks squandering its potential at a time when demand for food is rising fast, supplies are under threat, and hundreds of millions of people already don’t have enough to eat.

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