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A statement by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva
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 4 May 2016

FAO Regional Conference for Europe

Inaugural Ceremony


Your Excellency Faruk Celik, Minister of Food, Agriculture and Livestock of Turkey;

Honorable Ministers and Heads of Delegation;

Distinguished Guests and Delegates;

Ladies and gentlemen,

We are all honored by your presence, in this Inauguration Ceremony of the 2016 FAO Regional Conference for Europe.

The Regional Conferences are a central part of FAO’s governance structure. They help us identify priorities for the different regions in parallel with our efforts to address food insecurity at the global level, as well as other key challenges such as climate change, environmental sustainability and increasing the resilience of rural livelihoods.

FAO is conscious that Food and agriculture lie at the very heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, especially SDGs numbers 1 and 2 of ending extreme poverty, hunger and all other forms of malnutrition.

We stand ready to support our Member Countries. FAO has recently elaborated a booklet, which will be distributed here, that describes the links of the Organization with each of the SDGs and suggests how to take action.

The 2030 Agenda can only be implemented if the international community works together, in partnership, with civil society, the private sector, research institutions, academia and other relevant actors.

In this sense, FAO is grateful to have Turkey as one of our as major partners in order to extend technical expertise and to better assist neighboring countries, especially in Central Asia.

We are pleased that two key partnership programmes between FAO and Turkey were recently ratified. FAO is very motivated to continue and reinforce this successful collaboration.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Government of Turkey for hosting millions of Syrian refugees, both in camps and in local communities, thus enabling those most in need to have decent and dignified lives. FAO is already helping to assist them, as part of our humanitarian work.

But the migration of refugees must also be addressed at its deepest roots. FAO is working to strengthen the food security and resilience of those who remain on their land in Syria, the vast majority of whom are women.

We have been assisting farmers to prevent even more displacement and to set the foundations for rebuilding the country in a post-conflict situation.

Food security, agriculture and rural development help support the establishment of peaceful and stable societies.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is not only conflicts that are causing people to seek refuge. Many smallholders and family farmers are fleeing from their lands because of the impacts of climate change. They are the most affected and least prepared to face these challenges.

The Paris Agreement, signed by 175 (one hundred and seventy-five) countries two weeks ago in New York, is a milestone in this regard.

It recognizes the importance of building the resilience of the most vulnerable, as well as the fundamental role of agriculture to promote adaptation and mitigation.

Climate change is generating a world of uncertainties and complexities, which we could call the “new normality”.

It is difficult to foresee all the challenges of tomorrow in our quest for sustainable development. We are constantly facing new and unexpected situations at national, regional and global levels.

We need strength and courage to face these uncertainties and to penetrate these complexities. Let’s not give in to the hardships of our times, and join forces to build a fairer, safer and more peaceful world.

Thank you for your attention.