Twenty-sixth FAO Regional Conference for the Near East

Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, 9 - 13 March 2002

Provisional Annotated Agenda

9-11 March 2002


1. Opening of the Senior Officers Meeting

2. Election of Chairperson and Vice-Chairpersons and Appointment of the Rapporteur

3. Adoption of the Agenda and Timetable


4. Preparation for the WFS: Five Years Later - Regional Dimensions

Member countries periodically report to the committee on World Food Security (CFS) as a follow-up to WFS recommendations and its plan of action. The CFS reports on the achievements made by FAO and Member Countries and on FAO efforts in providing technical assistance to Member Countries. The purpose of the discussion of this item is to inform the Conference on action taken by other International and Regional Organizations and NGOs in implementing the recommendations and plan of action of WFS five years after its initiation and to exchange information and experience in dealing with food security problems. In addition, the discussion would aim at further examination of effective means of ensuring the fight against world hunger becomes a political priority at international, regional and national levels. Emphasis would also be given to exploring possibilities of mobilization of funds from regional and national sources to effect sustainable progress towards achievement of food security, particularly for vulnerable segments of the society. The regional aspect of the subject in terms of priorities and relevance to the needs of Member Countries of the Region would be stressed. Furthermore, within the overall framework, particular attention will be given to the situation of low-income food deficit countries (LIFDCs) and special initiatives such as the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) and the Emergency Prevention System (EMPRES) for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases as well as donor collaboration in supporting member countries in their food security efforts.

5. Long-Term Plans for Drought Mitigation and Management in the Near East

Drought is a recurrent phenomenon in the Near East, with cumulative negative consequences on agricultural development. During the last two decades many countries of the Region faced severe drought as some of the following examples indicate. Iran, Iraq, Jordan and Syria were hit by the worst droughts in decades; Algeria experienced the worst drought in 25 years; The Sudan witnessed recurrent droughts during the last two decades ranging for moderate to severe ones; and Turkey was also hit by a severe drought in its southern regions.

Occasionally, severe droughts cause irreversible damage to agricultural activities, greatly affecting the life of rural population, particularly small farmers and livestock producers. Although, drought is a recurrent event, it is invariably dealt with, in most countries of the Region, through short-term emergency programmes such as national food reserves and relief oriented efforts. Affected Member Countries in the Near East have recognized the need for clearly defined strategies, well advanced planning, high level of preparedness and coherent action oriented programmes for mitigation and management of droughts. Therefore, based on the recommendation of the first session of the Agriculture, Land and Water Use Commission (ALAWUC) for the Near East, held in March 2000, Member Countries requested FAO to assist them in their efforts at national and regional levels for the formulation of long-term drought action plans. It is worth mentioning that various development agencies have undertaken substantial work on drought management, the most significant being the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD), ratified by most countries including those of the Near East Region, during the second half of the 1990s. However, more comprehensive and practical field level interventions adopting self-reliant approaches in managing climatic variability are needed to support medium- and longer-term drought mitigation and preparedness plans, at both national and regional levels.

The document will discuss the need and the required action measures for formulation long-term plans for mitigation and management of droughts. It will also cover the impact of the long-term planning on sustained agricultural development and combating desertificaiton. The main topics will include: Early warning system for drought detection; water management for multiple use under conditions of stress; measures for reducing livestock losses during drought; introduction of institutional measures/supporting services for drought mitigation such as (research, seed production and distribution, marketing of outputs and inputs, credit, extension, information, etc); improvement of a suitable cultural practices and productivity measures; introduction of effective monitoring system; establishment of a participatory approach for close involvement of stakeholders, particularly at grass root levels; and formulation of policies programmes, plans and strategies for drought mitigation and management. The document will conclude by proposing measures that would assist Member Countries in designing and launching appropriate action plans and ensuring the required political and financial commitments for this purpose.

6. Trade Liberalization Policies, Intra-regional Trade and Opportunities for Sustainable Agricultural Development.

Most developing countries have embarked, with varying degrees, on agricultural trade liberalization policies as a result of their membership in, or in preparation for accession to, the WTO. In the long run, agricultural trade liberalization is expected to contribute to sustainable agricultural development, intra-regional trade in agriculture commodities and food security in developing countries.

However, there are increasing concerns among Near East Member Countries about the short- and medium-term impacts of trade liberalization on intra-regional trade, agricultural growth, the environment and food security. These concerns require careful analysis including better understanding of the inter-linkages among trade liberalization, sustainable development and food security needs. The analysis would allow formulation of appropriate trade liberalization policies that adequately address the concerns of Member Countries.

So far, the interrelationships between agricultural trade liberalization and sustainable agricultural development, intra-regional trade in agricultural commodities and food security have not received proper attention. There is a need to develop policies and action plans which will ensure long-term competitiveness of Member Countries while at the same time mitigating any short- to medium-term negative impact on intra-regional trade and food security. The inclusion of the item in the Regional Conferences will hopefully provide a good opportunity for exchanging information and experiences, as well as, drawing lessons that could assist in formulating appropriate international and national actions.


The following documents are presented as Information Notes:

7. Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) and Foot and Mouth Disease Risk Assessment: Implications for the Near East

This information note discusses in succinct manner, the possible risks of exposure of Near East countries to BSE and Foot and Mouth Diseases and their implications on livestock development and trade.

8. Teheran Process for Low Forest Cover Countries

Forest plays a recognizable role in contributing to food security and to the protection of watersheds and eco-systems. Yet, in the Near East Region, which is mostly arid with low forest cover, forests are disappearing faster than most parts of the world. This is mainly due to unsatisfactory national forests and land use policies. Therefore, there has long been a felt need to rectify this situation through coherent and deliberate action plans and programmes. The Tehran Process (1999) which emanated from the initiative of Islamic Republic of Iran identified the needs of Low Forest Cover Countries (LFCCs) and those with unique types of forests. It called for development of action plans in this regard for presenting the forestry issues of the Region in the relevant regional and international fora and meetings. Most countries of the Region have endorsed the Tehran Process. The purpose of this document is to brief the Conference on the developments in response to the Tehran declaration of 1999, particularly action plans and programmes at national and regional levels for sustainable development of the needed and appropriate forest cover in the Region.

9. The International Year of Mountains (IYM)

Mountains are fragile eco-systems. They are globally important as water towers of the earth, repositories of rich biological diversity, target areas for recreation, main source of living to at least one tenth of world population and a hub of cultural integrity. In November 1998, the UN General Assembly declared year 2002 the International Year Mountains.(IYM), for which, FAO was invited to act as a lead agency. In 1998, this lead role of FAO was approved by FAO Council.

Mountains play a notable role in many countries in the Near East as source of water, tourist areas and main source of living to the concerned local inhabitants. Several countries in the Region have already established, or are in the process of establishing, national committees and preparing national strategies for sustainable mountain development. This note provides a synopsis on sustainable mountain development including justification for development and the required improvement actions. The purpose is to further raise public awareness and ensure adequate political, institutional and financial commitment to concrete action for sustainable mountain development.

10. Biotechnology for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in the Near East Region

The purpose of this information note is to further increase awareness of this significant issue and encourage Member Countries to embark on programmes for strengthening and development of this important field, at regional and national levels. Biotechnology has great potential to influence and benefit agriculture, forestry and fisheries. However, biotechnology also poses certain challenges which are largely determined by how, where and when it finds application. The note stresses that member countries need to strengthen their capacity in this field to maximise and sustain benefit from the advances in biotechnology. Furthermore, National Research Systems (NARS) must strive to meet the requirements for research in biotechnology and the application of such tools in the development process on one hand, and to address the concerns and minimise the risks that are associated with it on the other hand.

11. Report of the Agriculture, Land and Water Use Commission (ALAWUC) for the Near East

Brief report on the conclusions and recommendations of the 2nd ALAWUC held just before the Conference from 5 to 7 March 2002.


12. Adoption of the Report of the Senior Officers Meeting

13. Closure of the Senior Officers Meeting


12-13 March 2002


1. Inaugural Ceremony

2. Election of Chairperson, Vice-Chairpersons and Appointment of the Rapporteur

3. Adoption of the Agenda and Timetable


4. Statement by the FAO Director-General


5. Report of the Senior Officers Meeting

6. Report of NGO/CSO Consultation

7. Action Taken on the Main Recommendations of the Twenty-Fifth Regional Conference and other FAO Activities in the Region 2000-2001 and.


8. Proposed list of topics to be considered at the Twenty-Seventh Regional Conference.


9. Date and place of the 27th Regional Conference for the Near East*

10. Adoption of the Report of the Regional Conference (including the Senior Officers Meeting Report)

11. Closure of the Conference


* The Standard Memorandum of Responsibilities will be provided to Member Nations expressing the wish to host the Regional Conference.