The World Bank and FAO host second Expert Meeting to review climate change activities in the East Asia and Pacific region

On 14-16 May 2012, the second FAO/World Bank Expert Meeting on “Investing in agriculture and natural resources management in the context of climate change in East Asia and the Pacific” took place in Bangkok. The meeting, which was a follow up to the first one held in Rome in May 2011, was organized by FAO’s Investment Centre Division, and Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, and Natural Resources Department with the World Bank’s East Asia and Pacific Region Sustainable Development Department. More than 50 professionals attended, largely representing  the World Bank and  FAO and others from regional organizations, of which many were  staff based in the region.
The purpose of the workshop was to identify priority areas to promote climate change adaptation and mitigation in these investments; and discuss options to mainstream climate change considerations in these investments.

The meeting was opened by Mr. Hiroyuki Konuma, Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative of FAO in Asia and the Pacific, and Ms. Magda Lovei, Sector Manager, East Asia Sustainable Development Department, World Bank. Both stressed that the challenges posed by climate change will compound existing development problems in East Asia and Pacific. As a result, problems such as population growth, rapid urbanization, increasing competition for natural resources and, most importantly, food insecurity will need to be addressed concurrently with those presented by a changing climate.
Experts from FAO, USAID, IRRI and the Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (RIMES) highlighted new practices and technologies to strengthen the capacity of countries in the region to fight climate change. Examples included new, more tolerant crops, livestock and fish; farmers’ field schools; mobile crop and weather information systems and community-based adaptation.
But while the pace of innovation was found to be speeding up, participants agreed that the capacity of some countries is still lacking; particularly in their ability to implement regulatory frameworks and institutional capacity that will allow them to anticipate, plan for and manage climate variability and climate change. More generally, climate-smart agriculture was identified as a useful umbrella to try and tackle governance gaps, mainstream climate change in the agriculture and natural resource sectors and target future investment.

According to Klaus Urban, Senior Rural Institutions Officer from the Investment Centre, a key result of the workshop was the recognition that current investment projects do not fundamentally lack climate change considerations in their design; rather, the emphasis must be on improving what is already being done to increase the resilience of agriculture and water systems.

Suzanne Raswant, Chief of  the Centre’s  Service covering the region, considered that the knowledge-sharing aspect of the meeting was particularly successful, with participants gaining a better understanding of the activities and experiences of each other’s work in areas related to climate change. A major challenge that became evident is the need for a bridge between policy initiatives on climate change adaptation at national and regional levels and community-based activities. Discussion at the workshop revealed that, while actions and policies are being taken by national governments and communities, these are not necessarily informing the other and much remains to be done at the levels of provincial and local governments.

As a result of this meeting, the participants have committed to keep in contact and continue to share knowledge and work together. For the workshop material, please click here.