CFS delegates attend the side event for the establishment of the digital council
Rome. 18 October 2019. The Food and Agriculture Organization hosted and led a multi-stakeholder consultation on the establishment of the International Digital Council for Food and Agriculture in a side event of the Committee of Food Security currently underway in Rome, Italy.
The consultation is a follow-up of the mandate given to FAO (through the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) Communique) to draw up in consultation with stakeholders a concept note for the establishment of an International Digital Council for Food and Agriculture.
In his opening address, Mr Ye Anping, the Senior Advisor to the FAO Director General, welcomed the more than 100 delegates, permanent representatives, participants who graced the event (The event was broadcast with 47 in attendance) . He noted that the consultation meeting that, “the event is being held at a time when the world is facing so many challenges, with data showing that we are still far from eradicating hunger and malnutrition”.
Mr. Ye underscored the importance of the consultation on digital council as a milestone towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. He stated, “We recognize that the sustainable adoption of information, scientific solutions and digital technologies and innovations for smallholder farmers will play a significant role in the digital transformation of agriculture”. In his address, he quoted the FAO Director-General; Dr. Qu Dongyu who emphasized, “A matter of great relevance in our quest to eradicate hunger is the transformation of our food systems” on his address on the World Food Day.
This consultation assures that FAO recognizes the need for public and private sector, academia, civil society, and the UN system to exchange best practices, opportunities and potential risks to better guide the digital transformation process of food and agriculture systems in a sustainable way.
CFS Side event on the establishment of the digital council
The meeting had a high-level panel comprising of Dr. Kolloge Sabine, Head of Division 626 Global Forum for Food and Agriculture, G7/G20, Policies against Hunger, The Federal Ministry for Food and Agriculture (Germany); Mr. Theo de Jager, President of the World Farmers Organisation (WFO); Mr. Cor Wattel, Researcher, Wageningen Economic Research and Mr. Samuel Varas, FAO CIO Director. The high-level panel discussed the challenges and opportunities of digital transformation and the role the International Digital Council for Food and Agriculture could play.
In his address, Mr Varas, thanked the collaboration by the World Bank, African Development Bank, IFAD, WFP, OECD, WTO, ITU, OIE and the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) and member countries for the excellent contribution and participation leading to this meeting. He summed up the challenges in front of the digital council and provided an overview to the proposed concept note.
In her affirmation speech, Dr. Kolloge Sabine commended the partners and FAO for following-up the GFFA commitment, and urged the consultation to adhere to the Ministers’ communique implement the 4-point plan stated therein. In her address, Dr. Kolloge Sabine welcomed the progress so far and affirmed their commitment to the questions prepared for the consultation and welcomed all members to send in their input.
The meeting also held contributions from some members of an internal taskforce in consultation with the nominated stakeholders (GFFA focal points). A short discussion after the panel discussion led by Mr. George Rapsomanikis (FAO EST Senior Economist) became a pre-cursor to the online consultation open to everyone for feedback and inputs from all stakeholders on the needs, scope and functionality of the International Digital Council for Food and Agriculture proposal.
About the International Digital Council for Food and Agriculture
The Ministerial Communiqué of the meeting, tasked FAO in partnership with other relevant entities (World Bank, IFAD, WFP, ITU, amongst others) to:
- Develop a concept for considering the establishment of an international Digital Council for Food and Agriculture that will advise governments and other relevant actors, drive the exchange of ideas and experiences and consequently help everyone harness the opportunities presented by the digitalization.
- Draw up a technology impact assessment of the opportunities and risks presented by digitalization for agriculture and rural areas.
- Propose a common methodology to assess and track the digital development situation in the agricultural sector at national level, after 1 and 2 have been endorsed.
The expected outputs of the consultation are to identify feedback and comments regarding the proposed note of the International Digital Council for Food and Agriculture in terms of: (a) Rationale and Need, and (b) Scope and Functionality. Identify risks and challenges to the establishment of the International Digital Council for Food and Agriculture. The final document with be presented at to the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture 2020 in January 2020.