Resource Mobilization

Japan and FAO to scale up smart agriculture and transform global nutrition

FAO and Japan’s Fourth Annual Strategic Consultation focuses on mutual support, private sector engagement, and cutting-edge solutions

03/02/2020 - 

Tokyo – On Tuesday, 21 January, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Government of Japan met at the Fourth Japan-FAO Annual Strategic Consultation, to reflect on the progress of their partnership over the last year and discuss further collaboration for common priorities going forward.

Deputy Director-General (Programmes) Daniel Gustafson represented FAO in the meeting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) of Japan. Mr TAKABAYASHI Hiroki, Director, Economic Security Division (MOFA) and Mr GO Tatsuya, Director, International Organizations Division (MAFF) led the Japanese delegation.

“FAO greatly appreciates Japan’s continued support to a wide range of FAO’s work through both financial contributions and technical expertise,” said Gustafson. Japan’s rewarding partnership focuses on, among other initiatives, setting international standards particularly through the Codex Alimentarius and the International Plant Protection Convection (IPPC); promoting the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS); and enhancing the Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus. Japan commended the Organization’s “seamless support in humanitarian responses” - from the onset of crises and throughout long-term implementation of sustainable development solutions. 

Among the top priorities discussed in the consultation was the upcoming Tokyo Nutrition for Growth (N4G) Summit 2020 to take place in December. FAO has been supporting the preparation process as a co-lead of the Working Group on Food Systems - one of the five thematic Working Groups, and as a member of the Advisory Group. FAO reaffirmed its commitment to collaborating with Japan towards the success of the summit and invited Japan to brainstorm how the N4G outcomes can link or feed into the UN Food Systems Summit in 2021.

Another central topic of the consultation revolved around technological innovation and knowledge sharing in agriculture and forestry. Japan representatives stressed the need for digital innovation, including smart agriculture, to overcome the country’s expected labour shortage due to the aging population. They also expressed interest in sharing their expertise and further collaborating with FAO, and welcomed the establishment of the International Digital Council for food and agriculture, which aims to promote innovation across the Organization. Furthermore, FAO discussed new collaboration with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), through the integration of JAXA’s earth observation satellite data sets into FAO’s forest monitoring platforms such as SEPAL. A three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was later signed on 23 January, which will expand the scope and usability of those platforms, while boosting the granular accuracy of JAXA-led initiatives covering the world's mangroves, forestry and land-use themes.

FAO and Japan also discussed follow-ups to the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7) held in Yokohama, Japan, in August 2019, which FAO Director-General QU Dongyu attended. FAO took this opportunity to present the new programme ‘Opportunities for Youth in Africa (OYA)’, jointly developed by FAO and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) to unlock the huge potential of agriculture and agribusiness for driving economic growth in Africa, while addressing the challenge of youth unemployment.

Across the various topics discussed, FAO and Japan highlighted the pressing need for more private sector engagement and deliberated on the most effective ways of working with private sector actors for tangible advancement towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). FAO also explored the opportunity to link the collaboration with its Hand-in-Hand Initiative, which aims to build a public data platform to identify investment gaps and promote partnerships on the ground. Furthermore, FAO emphasized the importance of more pooled funding to maximize results, presenting its Flexible Multi-partner Mechanism (FMM) and the African Solidarity Trust Fund (ASTF) in this regard. 

Overall, the successful dialogues of the Fourth Annual Strategic Consultation between Japan and FAO demonstrated renewed commitment from both parties to strengthen collaborations and leverage innovative solutions for advancement towards the SDGs.