Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Hiroyuki Konuma

FAO Regional Representative for Asia-Pacific

ADDRESS

by

He Changchui
Assistant Director-General and
Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific

Delivered at the

In situ Conservation Workshop and Geographic Information System (GIS) Training Course

Jointly organized by the FAO-executed project GCP/RAS/186/JPN and the
National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences (NIAS), Tsukuba, Japan
29 August 2005




Country focal points and delegates,
Dr. Kazutoshi Okuno, Director of Genebank, NIAS and Donor Representative
Distinguish guests and participants
Ladies and gentlemen

It is indeed my great pleasure to address this regional plant genetic resources in situ conservation workshop jointly organized by the FAO executed and Japan funded regional project “Implementation of the Global Plan of Action for the Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (GPA) in Asia and the Pacific Region”, GCP/RAS/186/JPN, and the National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences (NIAS). I am glad to see that many national project focal points, representatives and delegates from all the participating countries, other experts from the region, collaborators from CGIAR centres (particularly IPGRI and ICRISAT), and experts and representatives from the donor are here at this workshop. I would like to welcome all of you, on behalf of FAO and on my own behalf, to this workshop at the FAO Regional Office in Bangkok.

First of all, I should like to express my appreciation to the governments of the participating countries namely Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam for their collaboration with FAO in jointly undertaking this very important activity to promote the implementation of the GPA in general and its priority area on in situ conservation and development in particular. The participation and support from many individual researchers, national institutions and the CGIAR centers, particularly IPGRI and ICRISAT to this activity in this region are highly appreciated. The collaboration and technical support from the NIAS, Tsukuba and the generous funding support of the Government of Japan are greatly appreciated. Through Dr K. Okuno, Director of Genebank, NIAS, Tsukuba in Japan, I should like to convey FAO’s gratitude to the government of Japan for their financial support and to the management of NIAS for their collaboration.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Plant genetic resources are one of the most fundamental and essentials of agricultural biodiversity on earth. The GPA was developed through a highly participatory country-led process a decade ago. It was adopted by representatives of 150 countries during the Fourth International Technical Conference on Plant Genetic Resources in June 1996, through the adoption of the Leipzig Declaration, which commit countries to implement the Plan. The GPA recognizes the critical importance of plant genetic resources for ensuring food security and well being of human kind and provides an international framework for the conservation and sustainable utilization of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. The GPA had been incorporated into the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) in 2004. The Plan is a key supporting component of the Treaty. The FAO Commission on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA), which comprises 167 member countries, including all the participating countries of the GCP/RAS/186/JPN project, recognizes the importance of the implementation of the GPA and its monitoring on a continuous basis. FAO is committed to promote the implementation of the GPA and assist member countries where appropriate including the establishment of a national information sharing mechanism on the GPA for monitoring its implementation.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The main goal of FAO’s work on plant genetic resources and other agricultural biodiversity is to alleviate poverty and hunger by promoting conservation and sustainable utilization of these resources for sustainable agricultural development, improved nutrition and food security, and the access of all people at all times to the food they need for an active and healthy life. The FAO strategic framework adopted in 1999 is to help member countries reach the World Food Summit target of halving the world’s undernourished by 2015.

FAO and various development partners are joining forces to tackle the global and regional issues important to the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. In 2004, FAO launched A Regional Strategic Framework for Asia and the Pacific: toward a food-secure Asia and Pacific. One of the six thematic programme areas of this Framework is promoting effective and equitable management, conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. The Asia-Pacific GPA project therefore continues to be a priority area of work for us.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am glad that with the collaboration of the NIAS and the participating member countries, the project is able to organize this workshop to address principles and technical matters related to in situ conservation and development of PGRFA at national and regional levels. I am also very pleased that a two-day GIS training course is offered immediately following the workshop, aimed at enhancing the capabilities of researchers’ work on in situ conservation and development of PGRFA. It is high time to address these and other matters of relevance to effective in situ conservation and development of PGRFA.

You are no doubt aware about the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). At its 7th meeting – held in 2004 – the Conference of Parties to the CBD invited the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources to see how the GPA can contribute to the implementation of its Global Strategy for Plant Conservation. The Commission would accept the invitation of the CBD and will consider how the GPA can contribute to the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In your capacity as national focal points of the project, technical experts and representatives from national institutions, CGIAR centers and the donor country, I should like to urge you to actively participate in the deliberations of this workshop. In addition to consultations on matters of importance to your countries, you should critically examine how genetic diversity of agricultural plant species and their wild relatives can be effectively preserved and their development enhanced – without sacrificing agricultural productivity or depleting other resources that will enhance the well-being of resource-poor farmers. Your recommendations ultimately will largely define the future directions for in situ conservation and development in Asia and suggest ways for their implementation, including the role of FAO and the GPA in the implementation of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation and the programme of work on Agricultural Biological Diversity of the CBD.

I am confident that we will achieve the objectives of this meeting and substantially contribute to further the work of the GPA in the region.

In conclusion, I should like to reiterate that FAO will continue to work closely with member countries and partners such as UNDP, CGIAR centres and other partners – including civil society, NGOs and the private sector – to address issues related to GPA implementation and monitoring, and the application of science and technologies for the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity to fight against hunger and poverty. I wish you a successful workshop and a pleasant stay in Bangkok.

Thank you.