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Part 1: Opening of the Consultation

1. The Regional Expert Consultation of the Asia-Pacific Network for Food and Nutrition (ANFN) on The status of Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping Systems (FIVIMS) initiatives, organised by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAP) was held in Bangkok, Thailand from 19 to 22 November 2002. Nineteen participants from 12 countries attended the Consultation. The countries included Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam. Resource persons from FAO Headquarters, FAO-RAP and from the Innovative Development Strategies (Pvt) Ltd, Pakistan, as well as observers from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Japan were also present during the Consultation. The list of the participants is given in Appendix 1.

2. Biplab K. Nandi, Senior Food and Nutrition Officer, FAO-RAP and Secretary, ANFN welcomed the participants, observers and guests. He gave a brief background of the Asia Pacific Network for Food and Nutrition and informed the Consultation of the rationale for adopting FIVIMS as the theme. All the participants, resource persons and observers were requested to introduce themselves.

3. Elsa M. Bayani, Executive Director of the National Nutrition Council in the Philippines and Shyam S. Dubey, Deputy Secretary, Department of Food and Public Distribution, India were elected as Chair and Vice Chair persons, respectively. M.O.A. de Zoysa, Director, the Hector Kobbekaduwa Agrarian Research and Training Institute, Sri Lanka and Lafaele Enoka, Senior Agricultural Economist, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Meteorology, Samoa were elected as the rapporteurs.

4. On behalf of the Director-General of FAO of the United Nations, N. M. Hla, Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of RAP welcomed the participants and opened the Regional Expert Consultation on The status of FIVIMS initiatives on behalf of the FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific He Changchui who was away on a mission to the Royal Projects of Thailand.

5. Mr Hla reminded the Consultation of the definition of food security adopted during the 1996 World Food Summit (WFS) and emphasized the importance of achieving food security in the context of the region. He also reviewed the WFS goals, which were reaffirmed during the World Food Summit: five years later (WFS: 5yl) held in June 2002, and highlighted the role of FAO in the Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG) on FIVIMS in strengthening the monitoring of food security at the national and global levels. He stressed that if the objectives of WFS are to be achieved, appropriate policies and action programmes must be directed specifically at those who are undernourished or at risk. Therefore, a well designed FIVIMS at the country level could be of great relevance in as much as it is intended to provide information and other policy support in designing, monitoring and evaluating related policies and interventions.

6. He reassured the participants that the national FIVIMS initiative had been a priority concern for FAO-RAP. As such, RAP, in collaboration with FAO Headquarters, had been assisting the member countries in establishing national FIVIMS aimed at addressing issues of food insecurity and nutrition vulnerability. In this regard, Mr. Hla expressed his gratitude to the government of Japan for the support it has extended to the Asia FIVIMS project otherwise known as Development of a vulnerability information base, mapping and dissemination system for Asia in support of FIVIMS: GCP/RAS/170/JPN. The partnership between RAP and the Asia FIVIMS project was formalized before the end of 2001 to facilitate the effective and efficient delivery of technical assistance to five countries in the region, namely Bangladesh, Cambodia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

7. Lastly, Mr Hla wished everyone a successful and productive Consultation. The full text of the message is given in Appendix II.

8. Biplab K. Nandi presented the objectives, agenda, expected outcomes, and organisation of the Expert Consultation. He emphasized that all the participants were invited in their personal capacity. Also, he introduced the importance of incorporating the topics, namely the United Nations Development Assistance Framework /Common Country Assessment (UNDAF/CCA) and the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), in the current agenda and briefly discussed the opportunities for linking UNDAF/CCA and PRSP initiatives with FIVIMS at the national level. Recognising that while the FIVIMS initiative has yet to be undertaken in some of the countries, the Consultation could provide a unique forum to explore and exchange ideas and experiences on how FIVIMS could be put in place. The proposed agenda was adopted by the Consultation. The details of the agenda, expected outcomes and timetable are given in Appendix III.

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