FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa

Senior Officers’ Meeting of the 36th session of the FAO Regional Conference for the Near East kicks off

Recovery and Restart: Innovating for Better, Greener, and more Resilient Agri-food Systems to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

10 January 2022, Cairo - The Senior Officers Meeting of the 36 session of FAO Regional Conference for the Near East (NERC 36) kicked off today, with the discussions on the first day focusing on transforming food systems to achieve sustainable development. 

Hosted and chaired by the Republic of Iraq, NERC 36 is held under the theme “Restart and Recover:  Better, greener and more resilient Agrifood Systems to achieve the sustainable development goals.” 

Dr. Mithaq Abdul-Hussein Al-Khafaji, Technical Undersecretary of the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture, led today’s Senior Officers Meeting, which brought together about 30 FAO member countries and representatives of partner organizations, civil society, the private sector, and the academic sector to develop innovative policies related to the theme of this year's conference. 

Abdelhakim Al-Waer, Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for the Near East and North of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said at the opening session that the region is experiencing difficult times because of the Covid-19 pandemic. "We have seen the pandemic’s multiple effects on food security and nutrition, and the current situation dictates that we take a special approach to agricultural and food systems to transform them and make them more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable.” 

Al-Waer urged all participants to work towards better production, better nutrition, better environment, and better life, while leaving no one behind.

The Near East and North Africa region is witnessing aggravating challenges, such as the effects of climate change and water scarcity, protracted crises and conflicts, the increasing number of malnourished people, as well as the increasing demand for food due to demographics changes and vulnerabilities in the food supply chains as a result of the increasing dependence on imports.

In view of this, the organization has adopted an integrated and detailed regional program to respond to the effects of these challenges and help recovery. This program includes the following four regional priorities:

  • Rural transformation through inclusive and sustainable intensification of smallholder farming and agricultural and food value chains
  • Transforming agrifood systems to promote healthy diets for all.
  • Greening agriculture: Towards sustainable recovery and climate change action
  • Building agricultural and food systems resilient to multiple shocks and stresses through a holistic approach to risk management.

"The FAO's regional program is a strong and common response to the needs of the countries of the region,” said Dr Al-Waer. It links all parts of the organization and makes use of our technical, operational, and normative capabilities and our data to support work at regional and country levels,". 

About the Senior Officers Meeting of the 36th session of FAO Regional Conference for the Near East

Today’s meeting comes in preparation for the ministerial meeting that will takes place in person in Baghdad on 7-8 February, when ministers of agriculture, partner organizations, sister agencies, and senior officials of member countries will meet to elaborate on regional challenges and priorities related to this topic in the Near East and North Africa region. This will ensure the effectiveness of FAO’s impact in the region and will help in defining its work priorities for the next biennium.

The meeting will include a series of technical sessions that will discuss in details regional challenges and priorities related to “better, greener and more resilient agri-food systems” and the requirements of healthy food systems for the growing urban population amid water scarcity and advancing climate change in the Near East and North Africa.

These priorities will be determined through engaging roundtable and panel discussions with all member countries to identify best practices to transform food systems and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.