Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Hiroyuki Konuma

FAO Regional Representative for Asia-Pacific



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

Delivered at the

 Sixty-fourth Session of the
Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, ESCAP

 UNCC, Bangkok, 28 April 2008

Distinguished delegates,
Executive Secretary of ESCAP
Ladies and gentlemen,

I wish, first of all, to thank the Executive Secretary for inviting me to make a few remarks in my capacity as a senior RCM member, on behalf of UN agencies participating at this launch today.

With increased and enhanced efforts by all agencies across the UN system on “ delivering as one”, and under the Regional Coordination Mechanism (RCM), a series of consultations were held between ESCAP and other Bangkok-based UN organizations and agencies in order to identify common areas of interest and joint action in implementing the regional MDG road map. This gives us a very useful framework for all regional agencies to work together, reducing duplication of efforts and enhancing the effectiveness of technical assistance that we provide to the countries. Such a framework is very timely given that MDGs are important component of work programme of all agencies.

I wish to commend the ESCAP for its leading role in developing the regional MDG road map. The RCM Thematic Group on Poverty and Hunger, which was chaired by me, discussed and fully supported this initiative. The Heads of Agencies Meeting which met last November also identified and endorsed the Regional MDG Road Map as an important framework for joint action.

Excellencies, the Road Map offers over 100 MDG related activities including capacity building, training, analytical studies, dialogues and networking, which, we hope, will contribute to national efforts in achieving MDGs. I wish to note that there are some 24 UN entities and the Asian development Bank and the World Bank that have come together and agreed to contribute to the implementation of the regional MDG road map in line with their own mandates, priorities and comparative strength. This, as we hope, would enable UN system in the Region to provide a better synergized support and value-added service to country efforts and processes in achieving the MDGs.

In this connection, Excellencies, I wish to reiterate that poverty and hunger reduction is the first and foremost goal among the MDGs. While we were considering further effort on narrowing gaps in achieving MDGs, the international communities, the governments and people in many countries are shocked by the soaring food prices in the international market, driven by multiple factors, mainly due to the oil price hike that led to increased cost of production and marketing of agricultural commodities. International food stocks have declined to the lowest level in 25 years, as a result of production drops due both to policy failure and natural disasters. The unstable financing market and speculation, as well as demand for food by increased population and by biofuels have added to the problem, like putting salt on the wound. The matter, if left unattended, or not attended to in time, and with enhanced international effort, is going to touch off “a multi-dimensional problem affecting economic growth, social progress, and even political security around the world”, as the Secretary-General put it. It also threatens to push an additional 100 million people into poverty, further widening the gap of meeting the MDGs, unfortunately.

FAO considers this a wake up call for the international community and governments. Comprehensive actions are required, through a twin track approach: on the one hand, to provide immediate support to unban poor, small framers and vulnerable groups with increase food aid, and on the other hand, to provide assistance to boost production, and in the long run to put agriculture back onto the development agenda by providing enhanced financial support, in particular to developing countries.

All we need is political will and resources. Excellencies, I believe this matter is highly relevant to your deliberations at the 64th session of the ESCAP Commission.

Thank you.