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North America and South-West Pacific ready to tackle new challenges


Members from one of the most diverse regions in Codex met online on 26 May 2020 to review the status of the disrupted Codex meeting schedule and explore how to best proceed with work in the committee ahead of the next session.

Timothy Tumukon, Vanuatu, Regional Coordinator, for the Coordinating Committee for North America and the South West Pacific (CCNASWP), said attendance from around the globe “showed the commitment from all countries to work of Codex and food safety, especially in our region”.

Elisapeta Madar, Samoa, said “the meeting was fruitful and successful as we get to know updates on what has been happening in Codex. We are happy to attend to more virtual meetings in the future to update us with the two regional standards”.

The agenda focused on sharing details of which meetings may still be held in 2020 including the Executive Committee and the Codex Alimentarius Commission itself. Participants also discussed what impact the COVID-19 pandemic was having on the Codex programme and the options for committees if it will not be possible to hold physical meetings.

“In these challenging times convening an informal virtual meeting of CCNASWP was a useful way to share information about plans to keep the work of Codex happening. At the end of the day if currently meeting virtually to get through Codex business is the safe way to do it, so be it”, said Usha Sriram-Prasad, Australia.

The pandemic is inspiring us all to find new ways to communicate

“The United States very much appreciated the opportunity to meet virtually with colleagues in CCNASWP.  Our region faces real communications and travel challenges in the best of times”, said a member of the United States team present at the meeting. “The pandemic is inspiring us all to find new ways to communicate and work, and there may be benefits to having more informal exchanges between NASWP sessions using these technologies, including perhaps electronic working group exchanges”. 

Sridhar Dharmapuri is an FAO Senior Food Safety and Nutrition Officer in the region. “It is wonderful to note that the commitment and enthusiasm to build on the successful formulation of two regional standards (kava and noni) remains unaffected by the pandemic. With huge distances between members of CCNASWP, virtual meetings may well be the present and the future of Codex deliberations”, he said.

“The video-conference, which brought together Codex Members from countries spanning over a 12-hour time zone, provided an opportunity to get first-hand updates and connect with Codex colleagues” said Hilde Kruse, from the Codex Secretariat. “The great attendance, enthusiasm and feedback from participants illustrated that such meetings are appreciated and should be repeated. It would be useful to go further into technical issues in a future videoconference.”


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Learn more about the CCNASWP region