Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to welcome you to this important inception workshop for the regional programme for participatory and integrated agriculture, forestry and fisheries development for long-term rehabilitation and development in tsunami-affected areas.
The majority of people affected by the December 2004 tsunami in Indonesia, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand were small farmers and fisher folk depending on seasonal agricultural, fishing and other income-generating activities, and on home gardens and forests and trees for household use. In efforts aimed at “building back better” with a long-term perspective, it is imperative that these communities develop multifaceted livelihood rehabilitation strategies with full consideration of the three pillars of sustainability; namely economic, ecological and social. For this reason, interventions should be crafted through carefully designed, integrated, multi-sectoral, ecosystem-based approaches, that are participatory, people-centred, and gender and culture sensitive.
In this context, FAO initiated the project with the overall objective of strengthening national capacities and participatory processes in agriculture, forestry and fisheries for the integrated, sustainable management and use of land and other natural resources in tsunami-affected areas. These approaches are expected to enhance the livelihoods of the affected communities, and reduce their vulnerability to coastal storms and economic downturns. To discuss the implementation strategy of the project and review and finalize the proposed national and regional plan of operations, we invited you as the national focal points from the participating countries for this project inception workshop.
The workshop will share experiences and knowledge of integrated sustainable natural resource management, with a view toward developing long-term rehabilitation strategies, and finalizing the planned activities and outputs of the project. The expected outputs of the workshop include:
- clear understanding of the project rationale, objectives, outputs, activities and implementation strategy;
- finalized national and regional plans of operations; and
- a sound institutional framework for regional coordination and information sharing.
Emerging from the tragedy of the earthquake and tsunami is an opportunity to take a serious look at the way we are handling our environment – especially coastal ecosystems – and to reinforce or reintroduce, as necessary, practices that will ensure environmental stability and sustainable livelihoods. FAO, working together with affected countries and other agencies, will continue to respond to the challenges of reconstruction that lie ahead.
Finally, I sincerely hope that this workshop will facilitate your work for better planning and implementation, and development of long-term rehabilitation strategies and successful workshop outcomes.
I hereby declare the workshop open.