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Governments from Latin America and the Caribbean to strengthen their fight against hunger at the FAO Regional Conference

Countries to meet in Mexico City to set FAO regional priorities and move towards the full eradication of hunger.

Photo: ©FAO/...
Heads of State and Government gathered at the last FAO Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean held in Santiago de Chile in 2015.

Mexico City, Friday 25 of February 2016 - Government representatives from Latin America and the Caribbean will meet in Mexico City from the 29th of February to the 3rd of March at the Regional Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO, to deepen their joint efforts to eradicate hunger and malnutrition.

The Regional Conference meets every two years and is FAO's mayor governing body in the region. Therein, the governments of the region analyze the main challenges to food security and establish FAO's priorities for the next two years.

According to FAO, over the last two decades Latin America and the Caribbean has made extraordinary progress in reducing hunger, becoming the region that has made the most progress worldwide.

Over 31.7 million people have overcome hunger in the region since 1990-92, with an average reduction of 1.3 million people per year. The greatest part of this progress occurred between 2000 and 2008, when close to 19 million people overcame hunger.

"This shows that we can make great progress in little time if governments give political priority to this issue," said FAO's Regional Representative, Raúl Benitez, noting that the agreements to be reached at the FAO Regional Conference will foster progress towards the goal of ending hunger and malnutrition.

Pending challenges on the path towards zero hunger

Despite its great advances, the region still faces major challenges: 34 million people still suffer hunger while obesity affects 22% of the population, and close to four million children are overweight.

"We have to fight both faces of malnutrition, moving towards sustainable production and healthy consumption habits, preserving regional food products and diets", said Benitez.

In order to address these challenges, FAO will present to the Conference a regional initiative which will support hunger and malnutrition eradication policies, plans and strategies.

FAO will work hand in hand with all major food security agreements in the region, including the Hunger Free Latin America and the Caribbean 2025 Initiative, the CELAC Plan for Food Security, Nutrition and Hunger Eradication, the ALBA-Petrocaribe Hunger Eradication Plan, the Mesoamerica without Hunger South-South cooperation agreement, and the Parliamentary Fronts against Hunger, among others.

Climate change: a regional urgency

Another key matter to be discussed by countries during the Conference will be the need to increase regional efforts to tackle climate change and stop the degradation of natural resources.

"Climate change affects us all, but for the Caribbean and the Small Island Developing States, this is not just a matter of policy; its a matter of life or death," said Benitez.

FAO will propose to the Conference a regional initiative focused on the sustainable use of natural resources, climate change adaptation and disaster-risk management.

Fighting poverty hotspots 

Poverty affects almost half of the rural population of the region. Consequently, the third initiative proposed by FAO to the countries during the Conference will be focused on strengthening family farming and creating inclusive food systems for sustainable rural development.

Family farming is undoubtedly the basis of the regional food system, as it produces most of the food and generates most of rural jobs and employment.

"By strengthening family farming we can fight malnutrition with fresh and healthy food, improving the diversity of diets and reducing countries' dependence on food imports and vulnerability to economic and natural shocks," said Benítez.

INFORMATION BRIEF

¿What is FAO's Regional Conference?

The Regional Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO, is a forum that gathers the Ministers of Agriculture and senior officials of the 33 Member States of FAO in Latin America and the Caribbean to discuss the main regional challenges related with agriculture, food and nutrition in order to promote joint solutions to fully eradicate hunger and malnutrition in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Conference is also a meeting place for civil society, rural and indigenous communities, NGOs, intergovernmental organizations, regional integration entities and other United Nations agencies.

Where and when?

The 34th Session of FAO Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean will be held in Mexico City, from the 29th of February to the 3rd of March 2016 at the Hotel Krystal Grand Reforma, located in Paseo de la Reforma N°1, Colon Tabacalera, mexico D.F.

The Conference will begin with a senior officers' meeting on Monday 29 February, which will end on Tuesday 1st of March. The inaugural ceremony of the Ministerial Session will be held on March1st at 14:00 hours in the José María Morelos y Pavón room at the Foreign Affairs Secretariat, located in Plaza Juarez N°20, Colonia Centro, Mexico D.F. This session will be extended until the 3rd of March.

How can I participate?

Journalists can use the registration button available on the website of the Regional Conference or contact the media office that will be in the Gran Insurgentes room at the Hotel Krystal Grand Reforma with credentials from their media outlets.

Interviews and press releases

Requests for interviews will be coordinated by Mr. Fernando Reyes (+52-55-24579970 ext. 316, mobile: +52-55-62002116) for local media in Mexico. For international media, please reach Ms. Maria Santacreu ((56-2) 2923-2231).

Journalists interested in interviewing FAO's Director General must contact Mr. German Rojas, Press Officer for the FAO Regional Conference.

Photos, videos and official documents

Photos of the Conference will be available in FAO's Flickr

There is a video playlist that can be used as support images for notes related to the Conference.

Documents of the Conference will be available here.

Activities Calendar

Monday February 29th

8:30 - Technical Officers Meeting, Krystal Hotel.

Tuesday, March 1st 

14: 30 - Ministerial Session Opening Ceremony - Led by the President of the Republic of Mexico, Mr. Enrique Peña Nieto, and the FAO Director General, Mr. José Graziano da Silva.

José María Morelos y Pavón  Room, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Plaza Juarez No. 20, Colonia Centro, Mexico DF Ceremony

15: 30 - FAO Director General speech.

17:30 - Panel: Agriculture and Public Health: Partnership for a proper diet

Wednesday, March 2nd

8:30 - Panel: Challenges and forecasts for food security and nutrition in Latin America and the Caribbean: from the Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals.

10:00 - Panel: Challenges for the transformation of the rural sector in Latin America and the Caribbean: rural territorial development, family farming, social and economic inclusion and innovation

14:30 - Panel: Challenges for sustainable use of natural resources, risk management and adaptation to climate change in Latin America and the Caribbean within the new framework of Sustainable Development Goals.

16:00 - Panel: South-South and triangular cooperation for the eradication of hunger and poverty and for sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Special events:

Wednesday 2nd of March at 12:30 - Launching of International Year of Pulses

Thursday 3rd of March at 10:30 - FAO and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on nuclear applications with implications for food security.

Thursday 3rd of March at 12:00 - Climate change challenges for small Caribbean islands.

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