FAO Regional Conference for the Near East (NERC)

35th session, 21 – 22 September 2020

Food systems across the Near East and North Africa (NENA) need to change in order to ensure healthy diets for a growing, increasingly urban population in a context of water scarcity and advancing climate change. Such transformation should address the challenges of ensuring availability, access, stability and use of food in ways that provide smallholder producers and rural communities with opportunities in terms of driving income-growth, employment and increases in food production and productivity, while ensuring the sustainability of the region’s ecosystems and addressing climate change adaptation and mitigation targets. Innovation and digitalization remain to be limitedly used resources in this field, and harnessing their power would be a powerful and efficient way to promote transforming food systems to achieve sustainable development.

In this light, The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is holding its 35th session of the FAO Regional Conference for the Near East and North Africa (NERC 35) for 2020 under the theme “Transforming Food Systems to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”.

NERC 35 will be convened virtually, on an exceptional basis, in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic and associated public health concerns. The move to a virtual format followed consultations with the FAO Director-General, the Regional Groups representing member nations, and with the concurrence of the Host Country, Oman.

During the two-day online conference, ministers of agriculture, partner organizations, sister agencies and senior officials of Member Countries will meet to elaborate on regional challenges and priorities related to this topic in the Near East and North Africa region. This will ensure the effectiveness of FAO’s impact in the region and will help in defining its work priorities for the following biennium.

These priorities will be determined through engaging roundtable and panel discussions with all Member Countries, in order to identify best practices to transform food systems and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, while utilizing the power of innovation and digitalization.

NERC 35 will be held this year virtually, from 21 to 22 September 2020, and will be hosting several online discussions on the following issues:

  • The State of Food Security in the Near East and North Africa: Adapting food systems to respond to an increasingly urban population   
  • Building Resilient Farming Communities to Boost Local Economies and Promote Rural Employment
  • Ensuring Environmental Sustainability in the Context of Water Scarcity and Climate Change
  • COVID-19 in the Near East and North Africa Region Impacts and Responses
  • The Hand-in-Hand Initiative to leave no one behind

The Conference will be conducted on the Zoom videoconferencing platform, using the ‘Meeting’ format. Participants are kindly requested to register both for the Conference on the site provided in the Letter of Invitation and again complete a second registration for Zoom.

Participation in the Zoom Conference is by Invitation only, but the Conference will be webcast for public viewing.

Regional Dialogue Area

Given the decision to hold the 35th Session of the Conference in virtual mode, substantive consideration of some documents will be undertaken by a written correspondence procedure.

All feedback and FAO responses will be posted on the Regional Dialogue Area. , Participants are kindly requested to submit their contributions by email no later than 11 September 2020.