Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Hiroyuki Konuma

FAO Regional Representative for Asia-Pacific

WELCOME ADDRESS

by

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

 Third Regional Focal Points Meeting of the Project, GCP/RAS/186/JPN, Implementation of the Global Plan of Action for the Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in Asia and the Pacific Region

 15–16 March 2007
FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, Thailand




Mr. Naoyasu Murayama, First Secretary from the Embassy of Japan in Bangkok and
Mr. Duncan Vaughan, the representative from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery, Tokyo.
Country focal points of the project,
Distinguished guests and participants,
FAO colleagues,

Ladies and gentlemen

It is indeed a great pleasure to be invited to address this final focal point meeting of the project “Implementation of the Global Plan of Action for the Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in Asia and the Pacific Region”. I would like to welcome all of you, on behalf of the FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf and on my own behalf, to this meeting at the FAO Regional Office in Bangkok.

I am delighted to see many delegates from the project member countries and representatives from the Japanese Embassy and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery from Tokyo here today.

I would like to express appreciation to the Governments of the project member countries, namely Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam, for their collaboration and cooperation with FAO in implementing the project activities. On behalf of FAO and the member countries, I wish to sincerely express our gratitude to the Government of Japan for its financial support to the project.

The global plan of action (GPA) is already well known to you. It comprises 20 interrelated activities for the conservation and sustainable use of the genetic resources of all plant species with potential for food and agriculture. This was adopted by 150 member countries of FAO in 1996 and the countries are committed to implementing the plan. I would like to emphasize the importance of plant genetic resources, which are one of the most fundamental and essential of all resources on earth, and the implementation of the GPA.

All FAO member countries have been implementing the GPA to varying degrees since it was adopted. Two key objectives of this project were to monitor its implementation and re-assess the current state of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA) and to assess the needs and priorities for further implementation of the GPA in the future at national, regional and international levels. Another objective was to raise awareness of the importance of the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources and related issues, and to promote the implementation of and strengthen institutional capacity in carrying out some GPA priority activities.

Ladies and gentlemen

Countries are inter-dependent on plant genetic resources to provide food, clothes, shelter, medicine and other services for the livelihoods and welfare of their citizens, for protecting the environment, atmosphere, recreation areas, etc. The importance of the implementation of the GPA has received greater recognition than ever before after its 20 priority activities were adopted as the initial priorities of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) during the first session of the Governing Body of the Treaty held in Madrid, Spain in June 2006. The GPA was incorporated into the Treaty in 2004, which has articles covering the provision for benefit-sharing arising from the use of PGRFA through exchange of information, access to and transfer of technology, capacity building, sharing of monetary and other benefits, and the recognition of farmers’ rights.

I would like to congratulate the project member countries, particularly the national focal points, technical team members and collaborating stakeholders, who have successfully carried out the activities of the project. You now have established a national information sharing mechanism for monitoring GPA implementation. You have gathered and documented information on GPA activities implemented by your stakeholders during the last decade and assessed the current status of PGRFA in your countries. You may have identified key priority activities for the immediate future and other actions that are needed to ensure that plant genetic resources in this region will be conserved and used wisely in an equitable and sustainable manner.

I was pleased to learn that almost all the countries have completed and submitted two reports. One is on the establishment of your national information sharing mechanism network, information on GPA activities conducted in your country over the last decade, and the needs and priorities for the future. The second one is on the current state of your country’s PGRFA and the needs and priorities for the future, which will be used to prepare the second report on the state of the world’s PGRFA. The sharing of this valuable information among stakeholders and others, through the publication of your reports, relevant information and the NISM-GPPA database you have placed on the Internet for public use, is a great contribution to the world communities. These tasks were Herculean.

I am also very pleased to learn that the results of four case studies on in situ conservation conducted by the member countries will be presented during this meeting to share information and experiences. I believe that this will have a good impact on the work for the conservation and sustainable use of PGRFA in the future.

Ladies and gentlemen

This meeting is special. It coincides with the timing of the project evaluation which began on 5 March. The evaluation team members have already visited Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Thailand to assess the achievements of the work being conducted in those countries. The team members have been here in FAORAP since 12 March and will remain here until 20 March to complete their evaluation of the project and to report on their findings, in consultation with you. I would like to recognize the presence of the members of the project evaluation team (Mr. Bernd Bultemeier from the FAO Evaluation Service, the leader of the evaluation team; Mr. Duncan Vaughan, Senior Researcher, Genebank, National Institute of Agrobiological Science, Tsukuba, as the representative of the Japanese donor on the team; and Mr. Songkran Chitrakon, former Assistant Director of Biotechnology Research and Development and Chief of Plant Genetic Resources Conservation, Department of Agriculture, Thailand, as a member from the region to serve as a resource person for the team).

This occasion offers an opportunity for the review team members to interact with the country focal points and delegates, especially from those countries which they have not yet visited. They may contact you individually or as a group to obtain more information on the activities, achievements and impacts of the project in your country. They may wish to clarify questions regarding your country’s situation. I would be grateful if the national focal points and the country delegates could spare some of their valuable time during these two days to help clarify any questions that the mission may have.

This is the final focal point meeting as the project draws to a close at the end of next month. I would like to assure you that the interest in and commitment of FAO in assisting member countries in implementing and monitoring the GPA will continue. It is a normative programme of FAO. We shall continue to work with member countries on this important matter. I do hope that the momentum gained during the project will continue and that all parties concerned will actively seek ways and means to continue the work. There remains much to be done. I would like to encourage you to take some time during this meeting to discuss strategies for ways forward to advance Asian regional cooperation in these efforts. You may consider identifying key issues that need immediate attention and recommend actions to be taken by the parties individually and/or jointly. These may include activities in your country as well as by FAO, other international organizations and donor communities to sustain and further expand the work that has been initiated through this project.

Finally, I wish to end my speech by saying “thank you!” for your cooperation with and the support given to FAO and the project in carrying out its mission in executing the collaborative activities of the project successfully.

I wish you a pleasant stay in Bangkok and a very fruitful meeting.