Conference spotlights regional food system sustainability
Unique new range of in-depth national food systems assessments for BSEC countries
The first set of systematic and in-depth National Food Systems Assessments in Central Asia show that consumer food preferences are changing. Agrifood systems are becoming industrialized and globalized. Increasing numbers of people live in cities and personal income levels are rising. These developments bring not only immense opportunities but also multiple challenges, such as unbalanced diets, increased incidence of food safety issues, transboundary animal and plant disease outbreaks, and significant levels of food loss and waste.
The 13 member states of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) have recognized the impacts of these trends and have responded with regional actions. In 2020, the BSEC member states established a Regional Cooperation Centre for Sustainable Food Systems (BSEC-CSFS) in Ankara, Türkiye under a project implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) through the FAO-Türkiye Partnership Programme on Food and Agriculture. On 7−8 March 2023, BSEC-CSFS organized a regional conference on food systems sustainability in the BSEC region, held in Istanbul, Türkiye to exchange knowledge and experiences on the evolution of agrifood systems in the BSEC countries and to hear experts’ interpretations of the food systems assessments.
Attending the event were policymakers from and representatives of BSEC member states, representatives of international organizations, technical experts, representatives of civil society and stakeholders from the private sector. They reviewed the current state of food systems in the BSEC member states, discussed key findings and lessons from the national studies, deliberated on policy interventions and discussed next steps to move agrifood systems towards sustainability. The participants discussed how various stakeholders could promote innovative approaches and use policy to transform agrifood systems to be more environmentally and economically sustainable and promote better nutrition. An outcome of the conference was the agreement to establish a regional network for key actors operating in the field of sustainable food systems.
During the opening session, Vladimir Rakhmanin, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Europe and Central Asia, underlined that the ultimate objective of the BSEC-CSFS project is to enhance food security and safety and enhance institutional capacities in the region through the implementation of a food systems approach that emphasizes sustainability and equity.
Lazăr Comănescu, Secretary General of BSEC expressed his confidence that once implemented, this project would contribute to a more sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the countries of the region and will create greater awareness among BSEC Member States on sustainable food systems, strengthening their collaboration and their effective networking.
Fuat Kasımcan, Director General for European Union and Foreign Relations with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Türkiye, pointed out that the BSEC-CSFS studies have allowed food systems assessments to be made systematically and in depth at national and regional levels, and provided advice and guidance to member states in the fields of sustainable food systems.
About the FAO-Türkiye Partnership Programmes
Since 2007, the FAO-Türkiye Partnership Programme has provided support to ensure food security, rural poverty reduction and sustainable forest management; combat desertification; and preserve ecosystems in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Türkiye, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and other countries of mutual interest. Funded by the Government of Türkiye, with inputs from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the programme has implemented more than 28 projects in 16 countries in the region.
7 March 2023, Istanbul, Türkiye
Communication Specialist, FAO Türkiye