FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa

Reshaping the future of food and agriculture in the Near East and North Africa

FAO points to the need to turn food systems into accelerators of the Sustainable Development Goals

©FAO/Hamada Soliman - FAO and Saudi Arabia renew their cooperation to a sustainable future of food and agriculture.

20 January 2019, Cairo – Countries of the Near East and North Africa (NENA) region face numerous common challenges to achieving improved food security, nutrition and inclusive agricultural development. Recent conflicts and civil instability in some countries of the region as well as rapid population growth, low growth in agricultural productivity, scarce and fragile natural resources and the threat of climate change have been compounding the situation, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned today.

In response, FAO has embarked to organize a regional consultative technical meeting in Cairo for two days gathering senior officials from countries across the Near East and North Africa region, Permanent Representatives to FAO, and partners to address current and emerging regional trends and challenges.

Trends in various indicators of food security and nutrition in the region will be analyzed and discussed with a view to draw out lessons learned and best practices that can be used to respond to shared challenges.

The Regional consultative technical meeting is a forum for substantive technical deliberations on the thematic subjects and programmatic areas that are deemed important for the countries of the region.

The meeting will build on FAO's work aiming at achieving the 2030 sustainable agenda, including convening the 35th Session of the Near East Regional Conference.

"Discussions will draw the roadmap and framework for the deliberations in the upcoming Regional Conference," Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa highlighted.

It is also expected to review topics falling under the overall theme of the Regional Conference: Transforming food systems to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

"Food systems, the way we produce, trade, process and consume food, affect our aspects of our societies: economic, social and environmental " Ould Ahmed said. Turning them into accelerators of progress on the SDGs is essential to achieving several core objectives of the 2030 Agenda, including ending extreme poverty, addressing hunger an all forms of malnutrition, protecting and restoring the world's biodiversity and natural resources, and building resilience to climate change.

The specific thematic areas of focus by the meeting will be those pertaining to the state of food security in the region and the need to ensure a healthy diet for an increasingly urbanized population. It will also address the way to build resilient farming communities to boost local economies and promote rural employment, as well as the significance of ensuring environmental sustainability given the impacts of water scarcity and climate change.

About the FAO Regional Conference for the Near East

The regional conference, currently chaired by the Government of Oman, convenes every two years to discuss progress toward food security, improved livelihoods and eradication of hunger in all its forms and agree on the necessary policy actions.

It is the highest FAO governing body at the regional level and sets work priorities for the next biennium.

The 35th Session of the Regional Conference for the Near East (NERC35) will gather around 150 participants from government Ministers and Delegations from all countries of the region as well as representatives from civil society organizations and the private sector to chart out a roadmap for future work on shared food security challenges.