Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Hiroyuki Konuma

FAO Regional Representative for Asia-Pacific

WELCOME SPEECH

by

Hiroyuki Konuma
Assistant Director-General and
FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific

delivered at the

Focus Area Session on Economic, Food and Water Security 2nd Asia Pacific Water Summit

Chiang Mai, Thailand
19 May 2013

 

The Director of the Environment and Development Division from ESCAP, Mr Rae Kwon Chung,
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests,
Delegates Speakers, panelists and resource persons,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have the honour to be invited to make few opening remarks today at this Focus Area Session on Economic. Food and Water Security. First of all, I wish to thank the Government of Thailand for hosting this event. I welcome you all to participate in this important session. I also wish to express my gratitude to all our very distinguished speakers and panelists for their contributions this morning, and our colleagues from ESCAP, Mr Chung, Director of the Environment and Development Division, who have joined us in this undertaking as co-lead organization.

Our objectives are to raise awareness on the issues and challenges of economic, food and water security, share experience on how to address them, and craft key messages to bring to the attention of the leaders assembled at the Summit, hoping that they show leadership and commitment on how to ensure economic, food and water security in the Asia Pacific. It is our wish that all of you in this room voice your opinions and recommendations to achieve these objectives.

Technical workshops have drafted key messages as a starting point which I hope you will find you can broadly endorse and improve upon. These messages need to be very concise but a longer report, which will also be an output of the Summit, will capture the richemess of our discussions.

During this session, after a welcome speech by ESCAP, we will have a first panel on the water, food and energy nexus, followed by an open debate. The need to move towards convergence of water, energy and food policies, but also land and climate policies has  been emphasized. It is important to highlight the nexus, provide guidance to decision makers, and ensure their commitment here at the Summit.

The panel will be followed by two keynote speeches from the President of the Korea Water Forum, and the Chief Planner of the Ministry of Water Resources of the People’s Republic of China.

We need to broaden the scope of our analyses and interventions from the nexus to overall socio-economic development policies to move towards inclusive green growth and water security. A second panel will discuss how to concurrently eradicate hunger and ensure econmic and water security.

Decision makers and stakeholders at all levels, in order to achieve sustained prosperity with equity under the region’s water constraints, need to develop a coherent set of feasible economic, social and environmental policy goals, water resources management strategies and related sectoral strategies policy instruments and investment programmes within a green growth strategy.

This will require improved processes for reviewing broad social, economic and environment objectives through a water lens, with respect to bulk water allocation, sectoral policies, productivity targets in all sectors, and policy instruments and investments in all productive sectors including revitalizing irrigation in the region.

Countries will need to address policy dilemmas and trade-offs to ensure that the transitions to more sustainable growth patterns result in equitable outcomes, and consider how water policies, allocation, management and investment can support green growth strategies while having explicit food and nutrition security and poverty reduction targets. In this context, I will stress again that we believe that achieving the goal of eradicating hunger in our lifetime in our region is a moral as well as a polictial obligation. The target for hunger should be zero.

In fact,  we can no longer address food security or water and food security in isolation, and this multi-sectoral approach to manage economic transitions is necessary to develop effective, coherent and feasible policies, strategies and interventions for agricultural water management. At the same time, sustained economic growth and improved water resources management provide new options and risk management strategies for countries and households to achieve and maintain food and nutrition security.

Achieving the zero hunger goal, in the context of growing population, increased demand for water from other sectors and users and the environment, greening of the economies, and threats of climate change requires agriculture to substantially increase its resource use efficiency, adopt sustainable intensification practices and enhance its production of ecosystem services. The irrigation sector will need to modernize and provide much better services to farmers and other water users: cities, industries, and ecosystems. We will need to decouple water pollution for agricultural production, and consider the important contributions of inland fisheries and aquaculture to food security and livelihoods on our region.  Given the dominance of agricultural water use, assisting agriculture and irrigation in undergoing this transition and be successful should be a key priority for regional water cooperation at at national level, as failure would mean that water security could not be achieved.

The panel will be followed by speeches from 3 Ministers, Samoa, Iran, Uzbekistan and a presentation of the key messages on economic, food and water security that are proposed to be submitted to the Summit’s leaders. Interventions from the floor will assist us in improving these key messages, and I will conclude by highlighting the key points that have emerged from this session, based upon which we will revise the key messages fro presentation at the Leader’s Summit.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

I wish all of us a fruitful and pleasant session. Thank you