Making agrifood systems more sustainable: the way forward in Europe and Central Asia
Agrifood systems in Europe and Central Asia are strongly affected by multiple crises. To take stock of the current situation and discuss a way forward, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) convened its Member Nations of the Eurasia region in Budapest, hosted by the Government of Hungary.
Starting today, at the two-day Informal Consultation 35 Members are present in attendance, and more than ten are joining virtually, together with representatives from the European Union, civil society, private sector, academia, and research institutions. The participants will exchange views on challenges in the region’s agrifood system. The Informal Consultation will articulate and contribute to the formulation of the FAO priorities for the Europe and Central Asia region for 2024–2025, which will be presented for endorsement at the Thirty-fourth Regional Conference for Europe in 2024.
“The wind might not have always been in the sails recently, but we remain committed to developing the region’s food and agriculture sector in a sustainable way and by doing so, also contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, leaving no one behind,” emphasized Vladimir Rakhmanin, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Europe and Central Asia. ”Humanity cannot survive without food, and our mandate is to provide everyone with sufficient, safe, and nutritious food, despite the difficulties. We hope to achieve this goal – jointly.”
The recent years have been turbulent across the globe, and especially for countries of Europe and Central Asia.
“I’m glad that the consultation will allow us to exchange views on how to address these serious challenges,” said Zbigniew Rau, Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chair of the Regional Conference for Europe in his video message.
The region has been influenced by several significant social, economic, and environmental risks that have become further pronounced, requiring urgent action over the next several years, and possibly beyond. After partially recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic-induced contraction in 2021, global and regional economies have been experiencing another slowdown in 2022 fuelled by a series of overlapping crises, including the continued impacts of the pandemic, animal disease outbreaks, the war in Ukraine, soaring food prices, overall inflation, and tightening financial conditions in most regions.
As data in the recently published Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition in Europe and Central Asia 2022 report reveals, overall, around 116.3 million people in the region were moderately or severely food insecure in 2021, with 25.5 million of those added in just two years, reflecting a further deterioration of the situation for people already facing serious hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Members of FAO of the Europe and Central Asia region will also review the priorities of FAO regional initiatives, which are the framework mechanisms to deliver effective, complex interventions at national and regional levels. The aim is to assess the three regional initiatives in light of the challenges and trends of the recent years and discuss potential improvements that help realize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and leave no one behind.
Participants will be also briefed on the work of the FAO regional commissions – focusing on agriculture, forestry, animal health, fisheries, and other subjects – and their contribution to a sustainable transformation of the region’s agrifood systems. A special emphasis is given to the Regional Technical Platform on Green Agriculture that was launched a year ago, as a driving force to share knowledge and good practices related to green agriculture.
4 May 2023, Budapest, Hungary