FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

Through two-day meetings, FAO builds stronger partnerships with civil society

Once again, FAO is providing assistance to civil society organizations as they review the achievements of recent years and come up with recommendations for the future. Starting today in Łódź, Poland, a two-day civil society consultation takes place back-to-back with the Regional Conference for Europe, the Organization’s highest governing body for the Europe and Central Asia region.

At the consultation, representatives of smallholder farmers’ associations and unions and the fisheries and aquaculture and livestock sectors will share experiences and ideas regarding food systems transformation, sustainable “green” agriculture and inclusive rural growth. The outcomes of the meeting will be channeled into the Regional Conference’s agenda.

“The civil society consultation prior to the Regional Conference for Europe has been a tradition for many years, and it has become an important way to feed civil society inputs into FAO’s planning and work,” said Darya Alekseeva, FAO partnership officer. “Yet, we should do better and have stronger follow-up mechanisms to the consultation and continue the discourse on a more constant basis between the regional conferences.”

FAO values civil society as a fundamental and long-standing partner at global and regional levels. Civil society is a vital link to communities on the ground – the ultimate beneficiaries of FAO activities – and is a source of real-time information helpful in formulating better-targeted projects and programmes. Civil society also is key for ensuring a bottom-up approach in the transformation of agrifood systems.

With their technical expertise, prevalence in the field and proximity to the hungry and poor, civil society organizations are critical partners in the fight against hunger.

This year, after two years of the pandemic and with the Ukraine crisis unfolding, food security is high on the global agenda. There has not been a greater need in recent decades for solidarity, joint action and partnerships that bring together all actors to work together and complement each other’s strengths.

“These ongoing crises demonstrate the importance of strengthening local food production and reducing dependence on food imports,” said Olena Borodina, from the Ukrainian Rural Development Network, on behalf of the Civil Society Consultation. “Small-scale family farmers, who have proven to be resilient throughout these crises, can be instrumental in elevating human rights in food and agriculture – a key element in building sustainable food security.”

In Europe and Central Asia in particular, FAO has enjoyed quite a productive and efficient cooperation with the civil society community throughout the years. The parties have held joint activities in the field, developed knowledge products together, and organized multiparty and high-level events.

The United Nations Decade of Family Farming (2019–2028) and last year’s Food Systems Summit offer FAO and civil society even better and more straightforward ways to cooperate and capitalize on each other’s experience and knowledge for the benefit of smallholder farmers. This momentum has the potential to catalyse existing and new partnerships, be they at global, regional or local levels.

9 May 2022, Lodz, Poland