Good morning colleagues, ladies and gentlemen:
It is a great honor for me to welcome you to the Second FAO/World Bank Expert Meeting on Investing in Agriculture and Natural Resources Management in the context of Climate Change in East Asia and the Pacific. Before I begin, I would like to extend my deep thanks and gratitude to our colleagues from the FAO Investment Centre and the World Bank’s East Asia Sustainable Development Department for partnering with the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific to make this meeting possible.
It represents a truly important opportunity to strengthen collaboration between our respective agencies in tackling one of the most significant challenges that confronts the region’s agriculture sector. I sincerely hope it is further step toward establishing a regular forum to exchange ideas and identify opportunities for better, more effective collaboration.
Climate change presents a daunting challenge for the globe and East Asia and the Pacific more specifically. Already over the last fifty years the region has experienced a range of observed climate changes including declining precipitation, increasing water scarcity, rising average temperatures and growing frequency of extreme weather events such as storm and flood. These changes, and those yet to come, pose a real and undeniable threat to the agro-ecosystems and natural resources that underpin the region’s agriculture sector; the livelihoods of its rural communities; and, by extension, food security. Given this threat it should come as no surprise that coping with the impact of climate change on agriculture and food and nutritional security is one of FAO’s five strategic priorities for the region.
Climate change will complicate and compound existing development problems in the region such as population growth, rapid urbanization, increasing competition for natural resources, environmental degradation and, most importantly, food insecurity. While the true impacts of climate change in the region are still unknown, what is certain is that those who are already food insecure and lack coping capacity are, and will continue to be, the most vulnerable.
FAO’s ultimate vision for the region is food security. Preparing the region’s farmers to feed a growing population with more constraints in the face of a changing climate will require development of smarter agricultural systems that employ more and better knowledge and capital-intensive techniques to overcome resource limitations and improve resilience. In many cases this will involve the wholesale transformation of existing agricultural production systems. Investment will play a crucial role in facilitating this transformation.
Developing country governments and farmers cannot be expected to have access to all the resources required nor technical solutions to address every problem. We need to find innovative ways to co-operate, collaborate, and pool public and private finance streams - donor assistance and private investment - to build climate-smart food production chains. We also need to ensure that investment is channeled into activities that will yield the necessary improvements in agricultural productivity, while also delivering local and global environmental benefits.
FAO and the World Bank have decades of experience promoting, supporting and investing in the development of more productive agricultural systems that also safeguard the natural resource base for future generations. In a number of instances, we have already identified tools, policies and approaches that will help our member countries and clients make the transition to climate-smart agriculture in East Asia and the Pacific. Forums such as this, which aim to soften institutional walls, facilitate collaboration and prioritize action are increasingly essential if we are going to effectively build on the work we have already done and meet the challenges posed by climate change.
I am proud to see that we have gathered a formidable range of experts from our respective agencies for this event. It is my sincere wish and expectation that your discussions here over the next three days will identify concrete actions to address the issues that I have outlined briefly here this morning.
Ladies and gentlemen
Once again, I want to reiterate my gratitude to the FAO Investment Centre and the World Bank’s East Asia Sustainable Development Department for partnering with the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific to make this meeting possible.
I wish you all the best for a productive meeting.