FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

FAO Subregional Office for the Pacific launches its 2021 Annual Report

25/07/2022 Apia, Port Villa

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Subregional Office for the Pacific Islands launched its 2021 Annual Report on 15 July 2022. The report was launched at the official launching ceremony that took place online and physically in Apia, Samoa and Port Villa, Vanuatu. Ministers from the Government of Samoa and Vanuatu, Ambassadors of China and Japan, three UN Resident Coordinators from the Pacific, together with government stakeholders from Samoa and across the Pacific, the private sector, UN agencies and donor partners were all in attendance to witness the launching.

The newly launched report presents the results that FAO-led projects and programmes contributed to the timely and effective joint response by FAO as part of the United Nations family, governments and other partners under various thematic clusters including climate change, emergencies, fisheries and aquaculture. It also looks at longer-term gains made in forestry, livestock, and nutrition and food safety work and highlights how statistics and policy programmes supported key data, reporting, planning and decision-making, including assisting several nations to develop various national censuses. Several 2021 success stories were shared, including the SIDS Solutions Forum co-organized by FAO, Fiji, and ITU in August 2021 as well as the launch of the first-ever Virtual Learning Centre for the Pacific Islands region.

To launch the report was Ms Xiangjun Yao, FAO Subregional Coordinator for the Pacific Islands. She thanked the Pacific Governments for the excellent coordination and cooperation throughout the 26 years of the Office’s existence: “All of these achievements would not have been possible without the continued support and trust of our resource, technical and development partners. We are proud to serve the governments and people of the Pacific countries. Thank you for your trust and support, I sincerely hope that our collaboration will only strengthen the future for the benefit of all.” Ms Yao also thanked the Government of Samoa for hosting the FAO Pacific Office in its capital, Apia.

At the Ministerial segment of the event, Hon. Minister of Agriculture for Samoa, Laauli Leuatea Polataivao Fosi spoke on the SIDS Solutions Forum that FAO and Samoa Co-hosted in August 2021. He stated that, “this was an important activity for our partnership because it happened during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis. But more importantly, it allowed our collective Pacific commitment to share the world of locally creative innovation and creativity and how can we collaborate creatively to enhance the achievements of the SDGs”. He also highlighted in his speech how thankful he is with the partnership and collaboration the Ministry and FAO have for 26 years now and grateful for the opportunities from FAO through all the years.

Other guest speakers and guests consisted of Hon. Toelupe Poumulinuku Onesemo, the Minister for Communications and Information Technology. Hon. Silas Bule Melve, the Minister of Climate Change, Vanuatu; H.E Mr Senta Keisuke, the Ambassador of Japan in Samoa; H.E. Mr Chao Xiaoliang, the Ambassador of China in Samoa; Mrs Temarama Anguna – Kamana, Head of the Ministry of Agriculture, Cook Islands; and Ms Fiona Lynn, Director, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Australia - all of whom acknowledged FAO for the successful work that has been done in 2021 and way forward.

The event was enriched by thought-provoking statements from three UN Resident Coordinators in the Pacific discussing the challenges and issues across the region. Mr Sanaka Samarasinha, UN Resident Coordinator in Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu emphasized the work that FAO is doing in advancing the national food systems transformation agendas: “The approach to food has to change; from seeing food as a commodity to looking at systems. The work that FAO, along with UN agencies, did to support the countries across the Pacific in preparation for the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit is seminal”.

Ms Simona Marinescu, UN Resident Coordinator in Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, and Tokelau stated that the Annual report of FAO, like any other report of the United Nations, follows accountability roles in the organization and presents results that are accompanied by very high-quality evidence. Simona thanked Ms Yao for her leadership in 2021 and congratulated her and the team for all their achievements.

Finally, Mr Jaap van Hierden UN Resident Coordinator in Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru and Kiribati noted that “It will be a challenge to tackle the high dependency on food imports […] and prices that are becoming more and more expensive due to the turbulences in the food, energy and financial sectors caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. I am pleased to note that FAO together with other UN agencies is committed to supporting their governments in addressing these complex challenges. FAO has provided crucial support to those small island countries in the Pacific and will scale up its engagement within the broader UN Pacific Cooperation Framework.”

The event ended with closing remarks by Mr Takayuki Hagiwara, Regional Programme Leader, talking on behalf of the Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. “The hallmark of FAO work in the Pacific during the coming years will focus on the partnerships and collaboration with a particular reference to the feedback provided over this annual report, which is most useful and appreciated”.            

FAO has also reflected on the future of its support to the governments and peoples of the Pacific. Ms Yao showcased a series of upcoming projects around the Pacific to support the development and sustainable management of projects linked to promoting healthy food environments, accelerating digital agriculture transformation, improving environmental health, strengthening transboundary animal diseases (TADs) preparedness and response, supporting family farming etc.

By analyzing the past success and challenges and reflecting on future opportunities, FAO is excited to strengthen technical and resources partnership and scale up its support achieve better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life in the Pacific, leaving no one behind.

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