FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Asia-Pacific countries call for accelerated action to end hunger, improve nutrition and tackle the effects of climate change on agriculture

15/04/2018 Nadi, Fiji

Forty countries in the Asia-Pacific region have united in a call for action to improve nutrition, eradicate all forms of hunger and coordinate approaches to tackle the effects of climate change on the region’s agricultural sectors.

The calls for action were made at the close of a five-day FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific in Nadi, Fiji. The 34th FAO Session of the Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific (APRC) brought together Government Ministers, senior technical officials in the fields of food and agriculture and civil society organizations. The Government of Fiji hosted the event.

FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, had earliercalled upon the FAO Member Nations of Asia-Pacific to step up their actions in the fight against hunger, given that the region still has 490 million hungry people in their midst, “more than any other region,” he said. More work and stronger partnershipsare necessary if the region – indeed the world – is to meet the 2030 Agenda of achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly, SDG2, which is to eradicate hunger and malnutrition in all its forms.

The conference also expressed growing concern with the problem of overweight and obesity, which, if left unchecked, would result in a time bomb of diet-related diseases such as diabetes and other non-communicable diseases.

Asia-Pacific countries focus on improving food systems for better nutrition

The food and agriculture sector is very important for Fiji and is a key priority for national development, said Inia Seruiratu, APRC Chairperson and Fiji’s Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management. “We highly appreciate the (FAO) Director-General’s team, we highly appreciate the partnership and cooperation between Fiji and FAO and we are fully committed to FAO’s mission ofassisting countries to eradicate hunger and malnutrition.

“It is encouraging to see that the conference has agreed that we need to bring about sustainable intensification of agriculture in order to feed the region’s growing populations,” Graziano da Silva said. “The importance of a food systems approach to tackle malnutrition in all its forms is a big step in the right direction,” he said, while adding that those approaches must involve both men and women and take into account the different needs and opportunities that arise.   

Taking action for agriculture on climate change

The member countries emphasized the importance of the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework in guiding future actions for agriculture, food security and nutrition in the face of climate changeThey supported FAO’s efforts to help family farmers build more resilience against climate change and to improve statistics that can guide policies and actions

“To win the fight against hunger, we must address climate change,” said Graziano da Silva. “I am grateful the conference has recognized that we must promote the adaptation of agriculture to climate change, especially in relation to poor family farmers, fisher folks and pastoralists.”

Graziano da Silva pointed out that in order to achieve this, developing countries in particular must take advantage of available international funding bodies such as the Green Climate Fund to promote adaptation measures. 

The Director-General also expressed his thanks to the conference for its support to the issues facing small island developing states here in the Pacific, as they are the most affected by climate change

Addressing food safety challenges in Asia and the Pacific

The APRC delegates heard that next year there will be a global conference addressing food safety and international trade, held jointly by FAO, WHO and WTO, the first time such a tripartite meeting has been held. The member countries welcomed assistance to modernize food safety systems consistent with a risk-based approach. Among their recommendations to FAO was to use One Health strategies to reduce food-borne illnesses, trans-boundary animal and plant diseases and anti-microbial resistance from overuse and misuse of antibiotics in livestock.

The countries also recommended that FAO expand food safety interventions in the Pacific to reduce health risks associated with food-borne parasites, use of chemicals and effective risk-based import controls.

The FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific is convened every two years to seek guidance from Member Nations on FAO’s programme of work for the next two years. The 35th Session of the Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific will convene in Bhutan in 2020.

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