TWENTY-FOURTH FAO REGIONAL CONFERENCE FOR EUROPE
MONTPELLIER, FRANCE, 5-7 MAY 2004
PROVISIONAL ANNOTATED AGENDA
Election of the Chairperson, Vice-Chairpersons and Appointment of Rapporteur: for decision
Adoption of the Agenda and Timetable: for decision (ERC/04/1-Rev.1 and ERC/04/INF/2-Rev.1)
Statement by the Director-General (ERC/04/INF/4)
Follow-up to the World Food Summit and World Food Summit:fyl : Regional Dimensions: for discussion (ERC/04/3)
Food Safety and Quality in Europe: Aspects concerning in particular quality, nutritional balance, the importance of agricultural land and cultural heritage (“terroirs”) (Outcome of the 33rd Session of the European Commission on Agriculture): for discussion (ERC/04/4, ERC/04/INF/10 and ERC/04/LIM/1)
Improving the safety and quality of food products remains an important policy target of governments, private sector and societal organizations throughout the European region. These improvements are necessary to strengthen food safety, public health and welfare, to enhance consumer confidence, to answer their requests, to improve the local economy and to support participation in international food trade. The 23rd Regional Conference for Europe endorsed the recommendations of the Pan-European Conference on Food Safety and Quality and advised all stakeholders involved to take appropriate action for upgrading food production and control systems.
Whereas food safety refers to all those hazards which may make food injurious to the health of the consumer, quality includes all other attributes that influence a product’s value to the consumer. Quality is complimentary to food safety and a dialogue must exist based upon these two concepts. Quality refers to positive attributes such as sensory characteristics, nutritional balance and conditions of production, through regional and local elements of specificity. Sensory characteristics do effectively impact on consumer preferences and choices, and are also determining elements of diet diversity.
Diet diversity impacts in turn on nutritional balance, whereas nutritional value has obvious implications on public health. The conditions of production, appropriately controlled, may benefit the overall characteristics of a food product, while enhancing the potential for valorisation of local or regional production know-how. This also enables a regional cultural promotion taking into account the physical and ecological as well as social and economical local characteristics. On the one hand, these elements are decisive factors in consumers’ decision making and choice. On the other hand, consumers should be in a position to influence production processes and to orientate public policies. In addition, the control of all these factors may contribute to product tracing and furthermore bear upon food safety characteristics and to the provision of appropriate assurance of such.
Member countries may consider how a common understanding in food quality improvement should be formulated and what indicators and instruments could be identified for appropriate action. In this regard the scientific basis for food quality evaluations needs to be addressed, whereas a better understanding of economic impacts of quality issues, and of their implications on agro-food practices through the development and use of good manufacturing practices, regional planning and consumer information should be sought. The Conference will provide Member countries the opportunity to jointly identify specific concerns and formulate practical solutions for further improvements.
Agricultural Research: its role and contribution to sustainable rural development: for discussion (ERC/04/5 and ERC/04/5-Sup.1)
The transfer and adoption of appropriate technology to sustainably intensify production systems is a strategic objective of FAO. Promotion of regional and interregional mechanisms and partnerships for strengthening linkages among public and non-public research, extension, education and communication institutions for participatory and integrated technology generation is of great importance to the European Region. Furthermore, there is a need to increase support to collaborative approaches among European institutions for technology development, assessment and transfer, building on European research experience. This should include development of regulatory frameworks for new technologies, with a particular attention to safety issues and end-user benefits.
Member countries may wish to debate on how to contribute to the elaboration and the implementation of appropriate technology and research capacity with developing countries and with regions in Europe highlighting the prime role of research in the sustainable development of the agriculture/rural sector. This will include also a discussion on criteria for national research priority setting, on research strategy development and budgetary allocations to research, extension and training structures, as well as inter and intra-sectoral and organizational information exchange and participation/integration in broader regional/international structures and programmes.
Review of the State of Food and Agriculture in the Region: Focus on Rural Poverty : for discussion (ERC/04/6)
Report on FAO Activities in the Region 2002-03: for discussion and/or information (ERC/04/2)
International Year of Rice, 2004: for information (ERC/04/INF/5)
Programme for Bridging the Rural Digital Divide to reduce Food Insecurity and Poverty: for information (ERC/04/INF/6)
Knowledge is central to development, and there are considerable resources of knowledge and information that are not yet available to poor people to assist them in dealing more effectively with the root causes of their poverty. The new information and communications technologies (ICT), and increased priority and resources for information exchange, have the potential to improve the access to and benefits from this accumulated knowledge for the rural poor, as well as creating a more informed policy environment. However, an information gap or “digital divide” separates those most in need from much of the world’s information and knowledge resources. FAO's new “Programme for Bridging the Rural Digital Divide to reduce Food Insecurity and Poverty” provides the mechanism through which FAO facilitates a global partnership to address the rural digital divide. The scope and nature of this programme will be presented and linked to different aspects of FAO’s work in the European Region, through the strengthening of human and institutional capacities to harness information and knowledge more effectively in support of agricultural development and food security.
Initiative to Review and Update National Agricultural, Rural Development and Food Security Strategies and Policies : for information (ERC/04/INF/7)
Date, Place and main theme(s) of the Twenty-fifth FAO Regional Conference for Europe: for decision
Any other business
Adoption of the Report
Closure of the Conference