International Seminar on Parliaments and Food Security Challenges brings together parliamentarians from around the world

07/11/2019 - 

Rabat - One year on from the first Global Parliamentary Summit Against Hunger and Malnutrition, parliamentarians from around the world gathered in Morocco for an international seminar on Parliaments and Food Security Challenges. The event, held over three days in the capital of Rabat, was organized by the Association of Senates, Shoora and Equivalent Councils in Africa and the Arab World (ASSECAA) in partnership with FAO, and hosted by the House of Councilors of the Kingdom of Morocco.

The seminar drew participants from a range of government institutions and parliamentary bodies across Africa, the Near East, Latin America and Europe, including representatives of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Arab Parliamentary Union, the Pan-African Parliament, the ECOWAS Parliament, PARLACEN, PARLANDINO, PARLATINO, and various national parliaments.

The Speaker of the House of Councilors of the Kingdom of Morocco, His Excellency Hakim Benchamach, joined the Secretary General of ASSECAA, His Excellency Abdulwasie Yusuf Ali, and the FAO Representative in Morocco, Florence Rolle, in opening the event and presiding over the completion of the organizational structure of the Parliamentary Network on Food Security in Africa and the Arab World. According to H.E. Benchamach, the network allows for enhanced cooperation between the countries of the region and gives parliaments more opportunities to fulfill their missions and to take action to overcome obstacles related to food production.

Following the opening remarks, a representative of FAO’s Parliamentary Alliances team addressed the participants and reiterated FAO’s support to parliamentarians around the world as they work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). FAO supports parliamentary fronts and alliances for food security and nutrition around the world, providing technical support and assistance as they draft laws and advocate for policies that improve food security and nutrition, guarantee the right to food, and eradicate rural poverty. Through its Partnerships Unit, FAO currently works with over 40 such national and regional networks.

During the three days, capacity-building sessions led by FAO experts provided an overview of key topics and instruments that legislators can use to work towards achieving the SDGs, notably SDG 2, Zero Hunger. These sessions included introductions to the principles of Responsible Investment in Agricultural and Food Systems (RAI) and the Voluntary Guidelines on Governance of Tenure (VGGT), as well as presentations on the impacts of conflict and climate change on food security and nutrition. The President of the Pan-African Parliament, Roger Nkodo Dang, welcomed FAO’s technical support across these areas, and asked that the Organization focus on supporting the modernization of agriculture in order to address food insecurity.

Participants were able to connect with each other on various topics including sustainable agriculture, food security and nutrition, and environmental protection. Through a series of thematic discussions, the parliamentarians also had the opportunity to share experiences and lessons learned from their own national and regional networks, addressing topics such as the impact of conflict on food security and nutrition, climate change, and the role of parliamentarians in achieving food security. Speaking at the event, Atef Tarawneh, the President of the Arab Parliamentary Union, emphasized that food security is a key concern for the Arab world, and that the region should make full use of both its natural and human resources in combating hunger and malnutrition.

The meeting also set the stage for the creation of a trans-regional parliamentary alliance, the Afro-Latin American Parliamentary Forum (AFROLAC), that will enhance cooperation between parliamentarians in Africa and the Arab world and Latin America and the Caribbean. Speaking during the event, Gabriela Cuevas Barrón, the President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), advocated for the promotion of South-South cooperation as a way to provide solutions to issues related to food security. By creating a South-South parliamentary observatory, parliamentarians in the Global South would be able to enhance communication and coordination among themselves and with federations of commerce, industry and agriculture.

At the end of the three days, participants issued the Rabat Declaration on Food Security. Taking note of their responsibilities in combating hunger and all forms of malnutrition in their respective areas, the parliamentarians committed to working together to ensure the following:

  • improve food security and nutrition
  • promote sustainable agriculture
  • contribute to efforts to resolve conflicts that further aggravate hunger, food insecurity and undernourishment
  • boost regional integration and cooperation especially across the areas of education, scientific research, and technology
  • enhance dialogue at all levels (national, regional, global) and strengthen partnerships with civil society organizations, universities, research centers and the private sector
  • motivate the private sector to invest in agriculture and scientific research
  • promote South-South cooperation as a lever to provide solutions to issues related to food security
  • create a South-South parliamentary observatory for food security
  • call for policies that combat undernourishment and address the root causes of hunger




Watch the webcast of the full event (interventions in Arabic, English, French and Spanish):

October 30

October 31

November 1