FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa

The Thirty Third Session of the FAO Regional Conference for the Near East Starts on May 9 in Rome

@fao rne NERC33 Starts tomorrow in Rome


08 May 2016, Cairo / Rome –  The Thirty Third Session of the FAO Regional Conference for the Near East (NERC 33) starts tomorrow, Monday May 9, in the Italian capital, Rome, and continues till Friday, May 13. In the first three days, senior officers from the member countries in the region, as well as representatives from observer countries, sister UN agencies, civil society and the private sector will meet to discuss priority topics tabled on the agenda of the Conference. The meeting will conclude with a draft report with recommendations to FAO and member countries for improving food security and nutrition and for supporting agriculture and rural development in the region.

This will be followed by a two day ministerial meeting on May 12 and 13. This meeting, which will bring together ministers of agriculture and related sectors in the region will discuss challenges related to food security, nutrition, and agriculture at country and regional levels and will review the report of the Senior Officers’ meeting in view of its adoption.

 During the Senior Officers meeting, the conference will discuss "Regional and Global Policy and Regulatory Issues," which include discussion papers on "Livestock Contribution to Food Security in the Near East and North Africa Region" , "Fisheries and Aquaculture: Application of FAO's Blue Growth Initiative", and "Small-scale Farmers and Women Empowerment in the Near East and North Africa Region."

The livestock sector plays an important role in the food security and economic growth in the Near East and North Africa (NENA) region. Demand for livestock products has increased sharply over the last two decades, compelled by higher incomes, rapid urbanization and changing consumption patterns, making the region a net importer of animals and animal products.

The discussion paper prepared on this issue reviews the situation of the livestock sector in the NENA region, its contribution to economic growth, food security and nutrition; analyses the major trends, challenges and opportunities that are shaping the transformation of the sector; and puts forward a strategic framework including a set of coherent policies, institutional measures and interventions to unlock the growth potential of the sector and ensure its sustainable development.

On the other hand, the second discussion paper presents a framework for unlocking blue growth potential and provides examples of opportunities for sustainable economic, environmental and social development among the participating countries through collaborative support by FAO, noting that the  Blue Growth Initiative (BGI) supports sustainable and coordinated fisheries and aquaculture production systems for economic, environmental and social development through an improved understanding and application of ecosystem services. The BGI promotes sustainable development through knowledge sharing, the application of new technologies, and an enabling support system.

Recognizing that the majority of agricultural activities in the NENA region involves small-holders (small-scale farmers, pastoralists, forest keepers, fishers and aquaculture farmers) who produce the bulk of fresh food supply, the third discussion paper is dedicated to this topic. The paper analyses the challenges facing the small-scale farmers, and highlights those faced by women, and proposes a vision for the sustainable improvement of productivity in order to empower those engaged in small-scale activities in agriculture, forestry and fisheries, including strengthening professional organizations and supporting youth and women's employment.

On programme and budget matters, a discussion paper on "Results and Priorities for FAO in the Near East and North Africa Region" will be presented. The paper discusses how FAO activities have addressed previously agreed regional priorities during 2014-15, and provides guidance on areas of regional priority for 2016-17. It also reports on the implementation of the three Regional Initiatives: “Water Scarcity, Building Resilience for Enhanced Food Security and Nutrition”, and “Small-scale Agriculture for Inclusive development”. It also presents the Programme of Work and Budget 2016-17 approved by the FAO Conference in June 2015, and the Regional Strategic Review that highlights the major trends, challenges and development objectives for food and agriculture in the region.

The meeting will also be informed of the progress made in the implementation of the recommendations of the previous session of the FAO Regional Conference for the Near East as well as the recommendations of the Regional Commissions and major meetings that took place during the inter-sessional period. This includes regional fora such as the Regional Commission for Fisheries, the Near East Forestry and Range Commission, the Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust in the Central and Western Regions as well as high-level meetings such as the Regional Multi-stakeholder Workshop on Food Security and Nutrition.

The participants in the meeting will also review the on-going efforts to improve and strengthen the work of FAO’s country offices in the region.

Other topics that were prepared as information notes for the Conference and that could be raised for discussion are: the"Status of the Near East Forests: Challenges and Development Potentials"; "Agriculture in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: The Need to Address Cross-Sectoral interactions in the Near East and North Africa Region"; Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) Follow-up”; Food Losses and Waste (FLW) work at Regional and National Level; and South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTrC) for Sustainable Agricultural Development and Food Security in the Near East and North Africa (NENA) Region: Challenges and Opportunities".