United Nations Organisation (UNO)

The UN (United Nations Organisation) was founded in 1945 after the Second World War by 51 countries committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.

With its 193 Member States, the United Nations is the only organisation that can take action on a wide range of issues and provide a forum for all interested countries and participants to jointly discuss their views. The work of the United Nations reaches every corner of the globe. This applies both to the topics it deals with as well as to all of its members, their participation in decision-making processes, their role for the development of international norms and standards as well as their global outreach. Despite certain shortcomings, it maintains its unique, worldwide legitimacy.

With its specialised agencies, programmes and organisations, the United Nations has created tools to accomplish a variety of tasks, including the World Food Programme (WFP) as well as the International Foundation for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which have their headquarters in Rome.

As a UN Member, Switzerland is represented with a standing mission in FAO, WFP and IFAD in Rome. The Mission supports Switzerland's commitment to the fight against worldwide hunger and poverty as well as the promotion of sustainable and efficient use of natural resources within agriculture. Switzerland's specific interests particularly related to agriculture include:

  • Determination of and compliance with standards for improved food quality and security as well as for sustainability of the entire food value chain
  • Generating and spreading knowledge on sustainable agriculture and the management of natural resources
  • Optimal preparation to enable an effective reaction to situations concerning food security.


The FAO, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, founded in 1945, is a specialized agency of the UN with headquarters in Rome. The FAO counts  194 member countries, two associate members and a member organisation (the European Union). José Graziano da Silva (Brazil) has been the director of FAO since 1 January 2012.

To achieve food security for all is at the heart of FAO's activities. The notion of food security was defined in 1996 at the World Food Summit in Rome: food security exists when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.

International coordination is necessary in order to achieve this objective; this is where FAO plays a key role. Its three specific goals are:

  • the eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition
  • the elimination of poverty and the promotion of economic and social progress for all
  • the sustainable management and utilization of natural resources, including land, water, air, climate and genetic resources for the benefit of present and future generations.

FAO's most important tool to reach these goals is technical support. However, the FAO is also active as a research and knowledge network in the areas of agriculture and nutrition and advises countries in their agriculture and development policies. At the same time, the FAO is a platform for international exchange on agriculture and nutrition.

Switzerland has been a member of the FAO since 1946. The responsible federal agencies are the Federal Office for Agriculture - FOAG, with the Swiss FAO Secretariat, and the Swiss Development Cooperation - SDC. Switzerland is also a member of several FAO committees: Committee on Agriculture, Committee on Forestry and Committee on Commodity Problems as well as the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

The FAO's programmes are funded by compulsory and voluntary contributions. Its budget for 2014-2015 amounts to 2.4 billion US dollars, 41% of which stems from the member countries' compulsory contributions and 59% from voluntary contributions by the member countries together with other partners.

Last modification 15.03.2017

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Federal Office for Agriculture FOAG

International Affairs and Food Security

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Madeleine Kaufmann

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