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
First Thai National Stakeholder Consultation on the Establishment of the
National Information Sharing Mechanism
for the Implementation and Monitoring of the Global Plan of Action
for the Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources
for Food and Agriculture
17 June 2004
Rama Garden Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand




Chakarn Saengruksawong, Director General, Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives
Directors and representatives from various departments
Yoshitake Tsuzuki, First Secretary, Embassy of Japan
Distinguish guests
Ladies and gentlemen

It is indeed my great pleasure to address this important meeting of the first Thai National Stakeholder Consultation for the establishment of the national information sharing mechanism for the implementation and monitoring of the Global Plan of Action for the Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (GPA). The meeting is undertaken by FAO as part of the workplan of a regional project (GCP/RAS/186/JPN) funded by the government of Japan in which seven countries are participating: Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam.

First of all, I should like to express my appreciation to the government of Thailand for its collaboration with FAO and other participating countries to jointly undertake this very important activity for the establishment of the national information sharing mechanism for the implementation and monitoring of the GPA.

The generous funding support of the government of Japan to this multi-bilateral project is greatly acknowledged. Through Mr Tsuzuki, the First Secretary of the Embassy of Japan in Thailand, I should like to convey FAO’s gratitude to the government of Japan.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The FAO executed project aims to improve national capacities in monitoring PGRFA activities within the framework of the GPA by empowering the participating countries with tools leading to efficient decision-making processes, and evaluating and developing PGRFA policies at national level. In addition, the regional dimension of the project will allow the countries to share successful experiences in the implementation of GPA priority areas related to in situ conservation and on farm management. As a result, countries will be able to learn from each other and further enhance national capacities for carrying out PGRFA in situ conservation and on farm management.

The GPA was formerly adopted by representatives of 150 countries during the Fourth International Technical Conference in 1996. The conference adopted the Leipzig Declaration which emphasized the importance of plant genetic resources for world food security, and committed countries to implement the plan. Since its adoption, the GPA has received strong support from the FAO governing bodies, the 1996 and 2002 World Food Summits, and the Conference of Parties to the Convention of Biological Diversity. FAO is committed to carrying out the GPA under the guidance of the Intergovernmental Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) as part of the FAO Global System for the Conservation and Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources.

I should like to reiterate once more that plant genetic resources – one of the most fundamental and essential of all resources on earth – are seriously threatened. Their loss will touch each one of us and endanger future generations. The lack of capacity to conserve and optimally utilize these resources in a sustainable and equitable manner undermines the quest for global food security, sustainable development and eradication of hunger. Recognizing the critical importance of plant genetic resources for ensuring food security, the GPA provides a normative framework for activities related to their conservation and sustainable use at national, regional and international levels. It is furthermore a catalyst for both priority-setting and creating synergies among ongoing activities for the conservation and sustainable utilization of PGRFA. The signatory countries are committed to implement the plan, whose overall progress in implementation is monitored through the CGRFA.

To this end, the CGRFA has periodically conducted monitoring studies using a set of questionnaires. However, recently FAO has developed an enhanced approach called the National Information Sharing Mechanism for Monitoring the Implementation of the GPA. This new system uses an agreed set of indicators and associated questions for each of the 20 GPA priority activity areas. Data recording and analysis are greatly simplified due to the use of an integrated computer application. This system had been tested in a pilot study conducted by FAO in several countries, which recommended the use of the system to monitor the implementation of the GPA by the countries.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am particularly pleased that this information sharing mechanism has been adopted by Thailand. Indeed, the establishment of the GPA information sharing mechanism and the processes involved in the gathering and analysis of data will allow readily assessment on the current status of plant genetic resources in each of the participating countries, and identify gaps and set priorities for further work to fully implement the GPA.

Thailand is a signatory country to the GPA and has ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity. It is thus very timely that Thailand is ready to implement the establishment of the National Information Sharing Mechanism. I firmly believe that the establishment of a centralized national information sharing mechanism in your country will enable a better monitoring of the implementation of the GPA. It will also allow early identification of priority needs for ex-situ and in-situ conservation and development, sustainable use of plant genetic resources including the identification and allocation of the required resources, as well as capacity development to carry out those activities. In this connection, FAO will continue to provide assistance to and coordinate national, regional and global efforts to improve the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources. I am furthermore convinced that our joint efforts will succeed.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In your capacity as national stakeholders of plant genetic resources, technical experts and policy makers from government agencies and private sectors, I am confident that we will achieve the objectives of the meeting and substantially contribute to a successful establishment of the national information sharing mechanism for the implementation and monitoring of GPA in Thailand.

In conclusion, I should like to reiterate that FAO will continue to work with member countries and partners like UNDP, CGIAR centres and other organizations, including NGOs to address issues related to GPA implementation and monitoring, and the use of agriculture biodiversity, science and technologies in the fight against hunger and poverty. I wish you all a successful consultation.

Thank you.