The Conference is FAO’s highest governing body.
1. The 40th Session of the FAO Conference will be held on 3-8 July, 2017. The Conference is the organization’s highest governing body and sessions are held every two years.
2. The purpose of the Conference is to convene the Member Nations at FAO headquarters to review and vote on the Director General’s proposed program of work and budget. Conference is also an important opportunity for dialogue on food and agriculture issues.
3. At the 40th Session, participants will discuss a number of pressing issues including how to turn commitment into action to achieve the Global Goal of Zero Hunger; water scarcity, food security and a changing climate in the Near East and North Africa; sustainable solutions to prevent famine in conflict-affected countries; an action plan on food security and nutrition for Small Island Developing States; and the role of rural development in mitigating pressures that drive migration.
4. This year around 1,000 participants are expected to attend, including 70 Ministers, 15 Deputy Ministers and one President. The session takes place over 6 days during which around 20 side events will be held.
5. FAO’s Constitution, signed on 16 October 1945 in Quebec City, provides for a Conference of Member Nations to be held regularly. The Quebec meeting is considered the first Conference, and since then the Conference has been held biennially for more than 70 years.
6. Built in 1951, the Plenary Hall is the most important room at FAO Headquarters and is especially designed to hold high-level meetings such as the FAO Conference. It has a seating capacity of 1,180 people including the main floor and the gallery. The dominant colour in the hall is blue, a reminder of the blue of the United Nations flag.
7. The Plenary Hall ceiling artwork was commissioned by the Italian Government and designed by Italian artist Mirko Basaldella. Measuring around 500 square metres over 18 panels, the figurative work is an allegoric representation of the sky and the ocean floor.
8. The Conference is multi-lingual. Meeting rooms such as the Plenary Hall are equipped for simultaneous interpretation so that speakers can be heard in the six official languages of FAO: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.
9. FAO has 194 Member States plus one Member Organization, the European Union, and two Associate Members, The Faroe Islands and Tokelau.