FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Pacific countries call for enhanced agrifood systems planning and coordination as Pacific Ministers Meeting and Week of Agriculture and Forestry conclude

13/03/2023 Nadi/Apia

The 3rd Pacific Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry Meeting concluded, marking the end of the Pacific Week of Agriculture and Forestry (PWAF) 2023, a five-day event held in Nadi, Fiji that brought together governments, NGOs, community-based organizations and the private sector to help chart a future for agriculture and forestry in the region. The meeting, held in person for the first time after the COVID-19 pandemic, was hosted by the Government of Fiji with co-support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Pacific Community (SPC). The discussions centered around information-guided policy-making as well as evidence-based actions to drive the transformation of national food systems in the Pacific. Additionally, the meeting highlighted the importance of strengthening coordination efforts related to agriculture and forestry in the region.

Hundreds of participants travelled to Fiji to take part in the meeting which, after a traditional Fijian cultural ceremony of welcome, was opened by the Chief Guest, the Minister of Fisheries and Forestry of Fiji, Hon Kavaleti Vodo Ravu, who noted:

“The 2023 PWAF meeting has been a platform that provides the opportunity to discuss and explore how pacific nations can leverage the Agriculture and Forestry sector as part of our national and regional efforts to revitalize food system that better support healthy diets and environment sustainability in the Pacific.”

The FAO keynote address was delivered by Deputy Director-General, Laurent Thomas, who briefly introduced FAO’s vision for the Pacific region aligned with FAO Global Strategic Framework 2022-2031 aiming at building more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agrifood systems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life, leaving no one behind.

“The transformation of agrifood systems holds the key to maximizing opportunities and addressing the various threats and challenges that the region is facing. Pacific agrifood systems have the potential to become more resilient and deliver lower cost nutritious foods and affordable healthy diets for all, inclusively and sustainably,” noted Thomas.

This greater cooperation and collaboration must be led by the Ministers and their Ministries said SPC Director General Stuart Minchin. “You are the linchpin. We need the collective knowledge and expertise of you and your teams to chart our food and trade secure future,” stated Minchin. “We need your ambition, your aspiration, your capacity… and your collectiveness as well. And you can be assured that SPC will continue to take this journey with you as both a principal partner and an enterprising engine of ideas and initiative.”

The delegates recognized the devastating impact of climate change on Pacific food systems, and the need for better climate information to support food system planning and decision-making and emphasized the need for collaborative and coordinated data collection and sharing among countries to enable the development of sustainable and resilient food systems in the Pacific.

The delegates also highlighted the urgency of catalyzing national food systems transformation in Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) by promoting sustainable agriculture practices and diversifying food systems to ensure food security and reduce dependence on imports. Noting the need for comprehensive data-driven approaches to food systems transformation that takes into account the social, economic, and environmental dimensions of sustainability, the countries have agreed to create a regional technical coordination committee to inform and catalyse the food systems transformation agendas in PICTs.

Additionally, the meeting focused on strengthening coordination between agriculture and forestry in the Pacific. The participants proposed the revision of the current regional architecture for coordination to enhance collaboration and improve the effectiveness of programs and policies relating to agriculture and forestry. They emphasized the importance of community participation and stakeholder engagement in decision-making and implementation processes.

As the last agenda point, the countries and territories agreed to host the fourth edition of PWAF in Tonga in 2025.

Pacific members pledge greater collaboration, cooperation

Throughout the event, countries underscored the need for greater cooperation and collaboration between them to achieve common goals related to climate change, food systems, and agriculture and forestry. The delegates recognized the interconnectedness of these issues and emphasized the importance of collective action to address them effectively.

As key technical and resource partners in the region, FAO and SPC reaffirmed their commitment to continue supporting the Pacific Island Countries in their efforts to address the challenges of climate change, food insecurity, and environmental degradation, and build a better future for all.

Hosted through the Government of Fiji’s Ministry of Agriculture and Waterways and the Ministry of Forest and Fisheries, the Pacific Week of Agriculture and Forestry Meeting provided an invaluable platform for countries and other stakeholders to share experiences and best practices, identify challenges and opportunities, and work together to address pressing issues facing the Pacific region. By coming together to deliberate on these critical issues, countries demonstrated their unwavering commitment to working collaboratively towards building sustainable and resilient food systems that can withstand the challenges of a changing climate.

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