His Excellency, Vice-Minister YEO In-Hong, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Republic of Korea Chairperson,
Distinguished country delegates and observers,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, José Graziano da Silva, and on my own behalf, I am honoured to welcome all of you to Jeju Island, Republic of Korea for this biennial Session of the FAO Asia and Pacific Plant Protection Commission (APPPC).
We are very grateful to the Government of Republic of Korea for hosting this 28th Session of the Commission. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Organizing Committee, which is comprised of various distinguished officials of our host country Government, for having done such a superb job of organizing this meeting.
Distinguished participants, I am particularly pleased to extend our gratitude to the outgoing Chairperson of the Commission from the Philippines and to thank him for his sincere cooperation with the Executive Secretary of the Commission over the last two years.
Mr Chairperson, as we all know, phytosanitary measures are essential to protect plant resources from introduced pests, but they can also become major “barriers” to trade in agricultural produce. This was recognized in the WTO SPS agreement and has resulted in a global programme to establish International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures within the framework of the IPPC. The APPPC is now working more and more actively with the IPPC in the area of global standards. At the same time, the APPPC is increasing its efforts toward regional coordination and cooperation in phytosanitary matters. The concerned public sectors in most of the developing countries in the region are now capable of understanding the importance of standards for phytosanitary measures and able to identify their development support needs in the context of import and export of agro-products. During this meeting, you will consider two new draft regional standards which have been developed over the last two years. Another important area of work by the Secretariat of the Commission has been the enhancement of information exchange through the regional information system for the APPPC. This work has been carried out in line with the international phytosanitary portal (IPP) and APPPC website, which will be discussed in detail later in this meeting.
The APPPC has carried out many activities which I am sure will be described in detail in the reports of the Commission’s Secretariat and the Standing Committees as set out in the Agenda of this Session. The APPPC and IPPC have a very good collaborative relationship and a number of supportive and joint activities have been organized in the current biennium. The Regional Workshop on ISPM 6 and the Global Symposium on Pest Surveillance are good examples of this cooperation. The APPPC has facilitated regional consultations on draft ISPMs since 1999, thus strongly supporting the work of the IPPC Secretariat. These meetings are an important initiative that allows member countries to be actively involved in the course of the development of new ISPMs. The Secretary of the IPPC from the FAO in Rome and Dr. Yongfan Piao, Executive Secretary of the APPPC, will provide you with the details and up-to-date status of the major areas of the IPPC and APPPC.
Distinguished participants, the sustainable development of integrated pest management (IPM) with the technical assistance of the FAO and the countries’ commitments has been a successful work area in this region. A large number of cases have demonstrated the significant contributions of IPM to the pesticide risk reduction through the farmer field school approach by contributing to the improvement of food safety and food security in member countries. The FAO endeavours to improve its assistance to governments on pest and pesticide management and is committed to agricultural production programmes that are environmentally friendly; this has been fully reflected in the FAO publication-“Save and Grow” as a strategy of sustainable crop production intensification. The long-standing involvement of the FAO in the promotion of IPM is a visible example of this commitment.
Mr Chairperson, I would note that in a number of countries in the region, significant progress has been made to improve pesticide management in line with the “International Code of Conduct” and other relevant international treaties such as the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade. However there are still a number of challenges and issues concerning the proper management of hazardous pesticides in the region, so the FAO will be continuing its efforts to forge partnerships and to build capacity for the effective implementation and enforcement of the Code of Conduct and other international treaties relating to pesticide management.
Mr Chairperson, while the region as a whole has done well in developing sound plant protection programmes, there are still some disquieting features in the plant protection systems of some countries. Considerable development work still needs to be done, particularly in further strengthening organizational structures and functions. It is expected that a number of priority recommendations will be made by this Session of the Commission, keeping in mind that plant protection is a special priority in the region within the overall context of achieving sustainable development of agriculture and eradication of hunger.
Distinguished delegates, During the 38th Session of the FAO Conference in June 2013, the FAO formally recognized 38 countries for reducing hunger by half, well ahead of the 2015 deadline. Twenty of them achieved the first Millennium Development Goal of halving the percentage of hungry people in their populations. Eighteen also achieved the more stringent 1996 World Food Summit's target of halving the number of their hungry. The Conference approved the change of FAO's first Global Goal from the reduction to the eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition. Five new Strategic Objectives were endorsed at the same time, which represent the main areas of work on which the FAO will concentrate its efforts in striving to achieve its Vision and Global Goals. The Director General of the FAO, Graziano da Silva, declared "We need to ride this momentum forward towards the complete eradication of hunger. We are the first generation that can end hunger. Let us seize this opportunity". These strategic objectives and the Director General’s vision show us the opportunities that there are for national and regional plant protection organizations to contribute to in the future.
Mr Chairperson, as I bring my remarks to a close, may I remind us that during the last biennium, the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAP) and its intergovernmental technical body, the APPPC, have been involved in several significant programmes dealing with major areas of plant protection in the region. Because of the importance of the APPPC in the region, I would like to request that the delegates of the APPPC members present here kindly bring to the attention of their respective concerned national authorities as early as possible the importance of pursuing the deposition of the instrument of acceptance of the amended version of the Agreement that sets up the Commission.
In conclusion, I would again like to extend to all of you a very cordial welcome to this Session of the APPPC. I wish you all a successful meeting and a pleasant stay in Jeju Island, Republic of Korea.