Our Focus

The UNDP Green Commodities Programme exists to improve the national, economic, social and environmental performance of agricultural commodity sectors. In 2010, UNDP launched the GCP in recognition of the importance of global agricultural commodities in achieving the SDGs, with a mission to:

  • Improve the lives of farmers and their communities.
  • Protech high conservation value forest and important vulnerable ecosystems.



The Challenge

Most commodity sectors in developing countries are afflicted by poor production practices that lead to increasing pressure on ecosystems and fail to improve the livelihoods of rural communities. Poor production practices lead to negative environmental impacts such as biodiversity loss, deforestation, carbon emissions, soil erosion, depletion of water resources and contamination from chemicals.

But despite the progress made through standards and supply chain initiatives, weaknesses in the underlying enabling environment limit change at a larger scale. Improving the enabling environments will increase the chances of sector-wide change to work towards sustainable production practices.

Our Strategy

The UNDP Green Commodities Programme acts as a catalyst of mid to long-term national, structural and systemic commodity sector changes in support of sustainable agriculture. To achieve this, we:

  • Strengthen stakeholder cooperation towards a shared vision and collective action.
  • Seek to change mindsets, behaviors, regulations and practices, improving the enabling environment that will allow sustainable production.
  • Work systematically, mindful of the political and economic context.
  • Promote gender balance.
  • Promote transparency, accountability and good governance as drivers of success.

GCP as part of UNDP's new practice Food & Agricultural Commodity Systems (FACS)

After decades supporting food and agricultural commodity systems through country-level projects, UNDP is now launching a new Food and Agricultural Commodity Systems (FACS) Strategy to bring everything together, focus its vision, enhance its support and guide the organization's engagement with partners, including sister UN agencies such as FAO and UNEP, to transform these vulnerable systems.

Through FACS, UNDP takes a step forward on plans to create a new paradigm of agricultural production, based on resilient; equitable; healthy; inclusive; environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable systems - which will respond to the needs of increasing global food production without undermining the capacity of the world’s lands and seas to meet the food needs of future generations. This calls for a model based on agroecological systems which work simultaneously on achieving economic, environmental, social, and health outcomes, with smallholders as a key part of the solution in their role as the engine of economic development.

Covering more than 100 countries, and supporting close to 500 landscapes, the FACS portfolio includes initiatives that focus on increasing the resilience of agricultural systems and food security for more than 3.7 million people in more than 1,000 smallholder farming communities across 40 countries, mainly in Least Developed Countries (LDCs). During the last decade UNDP has joined forces with over 40 international organizations and NGOs to tackle challenges at the roots of unsustainable food and agricultural commodity systems.

Download the UNDP Food and Agricultural Commodity Systems (FACS) Strategy here.

Do you prefer an easier-to-digest summary? Read the UNDP FACS Strategy Summary here.

Effective Collaborative Action - Catalyzing change in food and agricultural commodity systems

Food and Agricultural Commodity Systems (FACS) touch every aspect of human existence. They are fundamental to sustainable development in all of the 170 countries UNDP supports. FACS are often the largest contributor to their economies; play a key role in providing food and nutrition fundamental for citizen health; and FACS have a multi-dimensional impact on achieving the SDGs.

Yet, food systems are in crisis. Too many of the world’s food systems are fragile, unexamined, and vulnerable to collapse. The production practices and consumption patterns in global FACS are on an unsustainable trajectory with negative impacts on human development, the environment, and economies.

The world faces a remarkable opportunity to transform food and land use systems over the next ten years in a way that can reap massive societal and agroecological dividends. However, among the common action agendas and prevailing discourse on what is needed for systemic change to happen in the sector, barriers are often overlooked:

  • Solutions and improvements in the functioning of food and agricultural production and consumption are often expected to derive from technical, financial or technological innovations. Yet individual, institutional and societal innovations and best practices are essential for change.
  • The quality of current multi-stakeholder collaboration in the sector is inadequate to meet the scale and nature of this challenge.  Traditional FACS governance mechanisms, including inter-institutional and multi-stakeholder components, are often characterized by power and information asymmetries. Fostering deeper spaces for collaboration and reflection and explicit inclusion of marginalized groups requires patience, time, and sustained commitment and support from participants, facilitators and sponsors.

Understanding and managing the interdependencies globally in this sector requires more collaborative mindsets and involves putting in place innovative governance arrangements. We need new systems thinking leadership – with new approaches, practices, tools, incentives, metrics and ways of working that can navigate and measure complexity and collaboratively deliver future food and agricultural commodity systems that are fit for purpose, particularly at the national and sub-national levels. Many are working on systemic change tools and methodologies but very little of this expertise is benefiting country-based collaborative networks.

The Effective Collaborative Action guide is designed to fill these gaps and meet the needs of our times.


GCP’s Signature Process

Sustainable commodities can only be achieved if developing countries align their stakeholders behind a shared vision for the future of their commodity sectors and engage and commit all actors in effort to generate change.

The typical sequence is for UNDP as a neutral broker to bring together all stakeholders into a commodity and country-specific National Commodity Platform, which then collaboratively creates a National Action Plan.

Platforms are led and owned by government, driven by participants and enabled by UNDP through its country offices and GCP. A steering committee for the platform provides coordination and helps reach decisions by consensus. The National Action Plans articulate all agreed courses of action.

National Commodity Platforms and National Action Plans are driven by the need for coordinated action by all commodity stakeholders around a common agenda.


From UNDP GCP's Theory of Change. To access the full document, click on the image.