Member AUM
$70 trillion

FAIRR Comments on Request by Academics for Retraction of FAO Report

Corn field
30 April 2024

The United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) Roadmap was created following a statement signed by investors representing $18 trillion and coordinated by the FAIRR Initiative, which urged the FAO to produce a roadmap for a resilient food and agricultural sector able to deliver global food security whilst achieving alignment with the Paris Agreement target of limiting global warming to 1.5C by 2050.  

The FAO has stated that the latest iteration of this 2050 Roadmap report will be released shortly. Once released, it will be updated by the FAO periodically over the course of the next 18 months. The full Roadmap report is scheduled to be finalised by Nov 2025 in time for COP30 in Brazil. In December 2023, at COP28 in Dubai, the FAO issued a document it referred to as the Roadmap In-Brief, which summarised key themes of this 2050 Roadmap. 

On 9 April, two climate scientists – Professor Paul Behrens of Leiden University of Professor Matthew Hayek of New York University – submitted a letter to the UN-FAO indicating that they believe that their research has been mispresented and misused by the UN-FAO in a report, Pathways for Lower Emissions, released in December 2023. The academics have called on the UN-FAO to retract the paper and then re-issue it with more appropriate sources selected and methodological errors rectified. Given the centrality of addressing greenhouse gas emissions in the 2050 Roadmap, and given that the UN-FAO both produced this Pathways paper and is responsible for the 2050 Roadmap, the concerns raised by the authors extend beyond just the one paper.

Lucrezia Tincani, Head of Policy at FAIRR, said: 

“It is FAIRR’s expectation that the UN-FAO will provide a substantive response to the issues raised by Professors Behrens and Hayek and will make adjustments to their analyses if and as needed.  

“A transparent process with rigorous testing of assumptions in interaction with leading scientists – while at times cumbersome – has long been part of the modus operandi of scientific scholarship for the simple reason that it helps ensure highest quality results. We have every faith that the UN-FAO will employ this approach both in addressing the issues recently raised about its Pathways to lower emissions document and in the Roadmap.  

“Given the critical aims of the forthcoming UN-FAO Roadmap for achieving food security and climate mitigation goals, it is imperative that the end product be as scientifically sound as possible. To this end, highest level of academic integrity and impartiality must be maintained by the UN-FAO as it undertakes the analysis that will serve as the report’s backbone.”  

Notes to editor  

The academics requesting retraction of FAO report that misrepresents their research are Paul Behrens (Leiden University) and Matthew Hayek (New York University). 

For more information, please contact:

About FAIRR 

The FAIRR Initiative is a collaborative investor network, founded by Jeremy Coller, with a membership of $70 trillion in collective assets of support. FAIRR works with institutional investors to define the material ESG issues linked to intensive livestock and fish farming systems and provide them with the tools necessary to integrate this information into their asset stewardship and investment decisions. This includes the Coller FAIRR Index, the world’s first comprehensive assessment of the largest global animal protein companies on environmental, social and governance issues. Visit and follow @FAIRRInitiative.