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FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

Members hand FAO its homework for the next two years in Europe, Central Asia

Europe and Central Asia as a region appears determined to vigorously pursue the 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by all nations last year. Goals for hunger, poverty, climate change, water, sustainability, and marine ecosystems make the UN Food and Agriculture Organization a desirable partner in the effort.

FAO’s Regional Conference for Europe concluded here today, with members calling on FAO to work with them on growing food for expanding populations and international markets while using more sustainable practices. “Save and Grow” or ecosystem-based agriculture is the new paradigm being advanced by the Organization.   The impact of climate change on agriculture also emerged as a serious concern, one that directly affects almost all countries in the region. FAO is promoting what it calls “climate-smart agriculture” emphasizing productivity, adaptation, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Improved nutrition, and the promotion of pulses as food crops and as a dietary choice were underscored by the Conference.

In his address at the opening of the Conference, FAO Director-General Jose’ Graziano da Silva said that while hunger has essentially been eradicated in the region, all countries have alarming rates of malnutrition in various forms:  micronutrient deficiencies, stunted growth, overweight and obesity.

Policies and other forms of support for family-run farms, strengthening of agri-food trade, combating illegal fishing, and support to women and youth were also emphasized during the Conference. Setting priorities for FAO’s work in the region is among the central purposes of the Regional Conference.

FAO offices in the region

The Conference decided to reinforce FAO’s network of offices in the region in the years to come – for greater efficiency and improved service to member countries. At present, country offices headed by FAO Representatives are located in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and country offices headed by Assistant FAO Representatives in Albania, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Uzbekistan. In addition, liaison and partnership offices have been opened recently in Astana, Baku and Moscow. FAO’s Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia is located in Budapest, Hungary, and its Subregional Office for Central Asia in Ankara, Turkey.

On the margins of this week’s Regional Conference, an agreement was signed by FAO Director-General Jose’ Graziano da Silva and Tajikistan Minister of Agriculture Izzatullo Sattori, establishing the office in Tajikistan as a fully-fledged FAO Representation.

Related events

A two-day consultation of civil society organizations in the region took place immediately before the Conference. The result was a position statement on agriculture and food issues in the region, with recommendations for FAO’s future work. The civil society groups stressed the importance of promoting agroecology, access to natural resources, local and territorial markets, and decent work.

A regional dialogue on responsible governance of tenure of land and other natural resources was hosted by the Committee on World Food Security one day before the opening of the Conference. The event brought together voices from civil society, the private sector, UN agencies, international agricultural research bodies and others. Participants reviewed case studies of how the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests are being applied in different national contexts.

A between-sessions side event drew attention to food losses and waste as “a global problem of enormous economic, environmental and societal significance.” FAO estimates show that as much as one-third of all food produced is either lost or wasted, and never consumed.

A nuclear technique for pest control known as Sterile Insect Technique was presented by the joint programme of FAO and the International Atomic Energy Agency. A third side event illustrated how FAO is promoting new forms of cooperation and partnership to promote agricultural and rural development – cooperation between and among countries, and with research institutions. By the numbers Forty-two countries and the European Union sent delegations to the Regional Conference.

A third side event illustrated how FAO is promoting new forms of cooperation and partnership to promote agricultural and rural development – cooperation between and among countries, and with research institutions.

By the numbers

Forty-two countries and the European Union sent delegations to the Regional Conference.

In addition, 23 representatives from observer organizations participated. These included intergovernmental organizations, international non-governmental organizations, other civil society organizations, the private sector, and academia.

FAO Regional Conferences are held every two years, in years when the Organization’s governing Conference does not convene. The Conference venue rotates among each region’s member countries.

6 May 2016, Antalya, Turkey

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