FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean

Barbados and The Eastern Caribbean States launch of Stakeholders Consultation Workshop on the Assessment of Food Systems ahead of the Global UN Food Systems Summit

Over 280 people representing the government, international organizations, civil society, private sector, academia and non-governmental organizations gathered virtually on Friday, August, 6th virtually for a Stakeholder Consultations Workshop titled “Food Systems Assessment: Organization of the Eastern Caribbean States and Barbados.”

The assessment is an initiative organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the European Union (EU), and the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), in collaboration with the Governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and Grenadines. The workshop facilitated the development of a large-scale, rapid assessment of Eastern Caribbean States’ food systems within the framework of national and global food systems dialogues by gathering evidence, knowledge and data to identify entry points for innovative policy and investment solutions. The assessment is in line with the EU’s Farm-to-Fork Strategy, which is at the heart of the EU Green Deal aiming to make food systems more inclusive, healthy and environmentally-friendly.

In the framework of the workshop, levers covering public education and policy formulation, market infrastructure and investment expansion, a mitigation strategy, and a business investment model were discussed to transform food systems not only locally but globally by sharing good practices with other countries.

The results and findings from the stakeholders’ consultation workshop will be summarized in a Food Systems Assessment Technical Report and Policy Brief that could feed into future food systems policies and investments in the Eastern Caribbean States and inform the high-level Food System Summit 2021 to guide future action under the global  food systems transformation agenda as well as the post-summit agenda.

In her opening remarks, Renata Clarke, Sub-regional Coordinator at FAO stated that somehow, the Caribbean seem to have taken their eyes off of the ball and we find ourselves now with our food systems in a state of dysfunction.  She stated that healthy and resilient food systems are the basis for our very existence; our food security and needs urgent attention.

She stressed, “This focus on food systems comes at an important moment. Many countries are seeking to bolster the contribution of agriculture sector to the economy.  We need to plan for this with explicit attention to the interactions between agriculture and other sector; between ag and the broader food system. The natural resources at our disposal serve many functions and are affected by the activities carried out in other sectors. We cannot optimise and ensure sustainability if we think and plan in silos”.

Bogdan Stefanescu, First Secretary and Team Leader - Green Economy and Resilience EU Delegation to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean States, the OECS and CARICOM/CARIFORUM stated, “The consultations were a unique opportunity to hear the views and concerns of a wide range of stakeholders across the Eastern Caribbean, setting the tone for the design of our future programmes in support to sustainable, safe and environment friendly food systems in the region.  The dialogue was in line with the guiding principles of the EU Green deal and helped to inform our contribution to the Food System Summit 2021.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security in Barbados, the Hon Indar Weir indicated, “Some of the strategies in dealing with the NCD crises in Barbados includes targetting schools in how we feed our children, and do educational programmes right across the schools and within the homes so that we can adjust the appetite and the taste of our children for a wholesome and healthy foods”.

The consultation workshop is one of many being organized across the Caribbean, with food systems assessments being carried out in over 50 countries across the world. More information on the food systems assessment process can be found by visiting www.fao.org/3/cb4848en/cb4848en.pdf or Food Systems Assessment | FAO Investment Centre