FAO and ILO share a commitment to support people-centred, sustainable development and fair and inclusive globalization. Attention is given to improving, in a balanced, participatory and equitable way, the main assets of the poor – their human, social, natural, physical and financial resources. The primary goal of ILO is to promote opportunities for women and men to obtain decent and productive work in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity. The primary goal of FAO is to contribute to the reduction and eventual elimination of hunger and rural poverty through the sustainable development of agriculture, rural areas and their natural resources.

A coordinated strategy is a critical option in order to complement and enhance the work currently being carried out by each organization, respectively, on labour and agriculture and rural development and promote rural work.

ILO and FAO working together: A lasting collaboration

ILO and FAO have a long history of collaboration dating back to 1947. Based on a shared commitment to people-centred sustainable development, fair and inclusive globalization, FAO and ILO have joined forces to strengthen their impact on rural development and poverty reduction.

The most recent Memorandum of Understanding between FAO and ILO, signed in September 2004, provides the institutional framework for increased cooperation between the two organizations. Action areas prioritised by the Memorandum are the follow-up to major global conferences, the promotion of fair and inclusive globalisation and the promotion of sustainable agriculture and rural development. This “Food, Agriculture and Decent Work” website gives visibility to the collaboration between the two organizations in this framework, and provides information regarding their joint activities, highlighting the linkages between decent employment, rural development and food security.

Areas of joint action include the following:

  • Decent Employment for the Rural Poor
  • Child Labour in Agriculture
  • Youth Employment
  • Gender dimensions
  • Cooperatives and Producers’ Organizations
  • Rural Workers
  • Occupational Safety and Health
  • Sustainable Livelihoods and Emergencies
  • Sectoral issues in agriculture (crop production, fisheries and forestry)
  • Labour statistics

Areas of potential collaboration include: value chains, post-crisis reconstruction, skills development, migration, indigenous peoples, HIV and AIDS and employment-intensive investment in rural  infrastructure.

ILO partnerships with international agencies sharing close mandates such as FAO was recognized to be instrumental to achieve integrated approaches to development in the ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization adopted at the International Labour Conference in June 2008.

Specifically, FAO/ILO joint work was mentioned at the 97th session of the International Labour Conference, June 2008, which included a general discussion on the promotion of rural employment for poverty reduction based on an integrated approach. Both the background Report to this discussion and the Resolutions adopted unanimously at its end highlight the importance of the FAO-ILO partnership.

Collaboration is currently taking place at headquarter and at field level.It includes activities in the following working areas:

  • Guidance documents, including:  How to address rural employment and decent work concerns in FAO country activities (2010), Quick reference for addressing rural employment and decent work (2010).
  • Knowledge products, such as: FAO/ILO/ECLA Study on Labour Market and Rural Poverty in Latin America (2010); and the Training course on child labour in agriculture, ITCILO, Turin, Italy (2011).
  • Workshops, like the: Gender dimensions of agriculture and rural development: Differentiated pathways out of poverty (2009); and the Workshop on Child Labour in Fisheries and Aquaculture (2010). 
  • Field work, such as the country initiatives within the: International Partnership for Cooperation on Child Labour in Agriculture initiatives.