“On behalf of Mr. Graziano da Sila, FAO Director General, I am honoured to address this inaugural joint meeting, merging Agriculture and Forestry under one banner and one voice.
“This week has brought together the voices of all partners across the agriculture and forestry sectors from the region and beyond, contributing to the vision of a more integrated Pacific Region.
“We are happy that this process comes to life as a joint exercise between FAO and our longstanding partners SPC in the Pacific.”
Food and Agriculture Organisation Deputy Director General, Maria Helena Semedo delivered her address to the first ever merging of the Pacific Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry Meeting (MOAFS) on the heel of the Pacific Week of Agriculture, at Iririki Island Resort on Friday last week.
She said Small Island Developing States (SIDS) face a unique set of challenges, limitations and vulnerabilities and all call for bold actions.
But she said, “By working together in innovative ways, we can find solutions at the local, regional and international levels.
“The Multi-country Programming Framework for 2018-2022 that is being signed later today (last Friday) bears testimony to this.”
On the global front, latest statistics show that 815 million people (11% of the global population) have no food to eat due to conflict and climate change, changing dietary habits and economic slowdowns.
Meanwhile, she said seven out of ten countries with the highest prevalence of obesity and diabetes in the world are in the Pacific, contributing to the rapid rise of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD).
“The Pacific is the only region where stunting and wasting has gone up in the last five years,” she said.
The Global Action Programme (GAP) on Food Security and Nutrition for Small Island Developing States in the Pacific was set up to cover countries which include Kiribati, Samoa, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
As a woman from a small island state herself, the FAO Deputy Director General stressed, “A priority for the GAP is increasing gender equality as it brings transformative and multiplier effects for sustainable development, especially when we know that in the Pacific women make up 52 % of the agricultural work force”.
In her concluding remarks she raised the following points;
• Small island states should be viewed as large ocean states.
• In Cabo Verde (my island country), we have 800,000 square kilometres of ocean compared to only 4,000 square kilometres of land.
• In the Pacific I bet you are richer!
• I welcome the Pacific Leaders recent endorsement of The Blue Pacific Identity, recognition that healthy oceans are critical to the economic, cultural and social well-being and good security and activities of the region.
• FAO’s Blue Growth Initiative is supporting SIDS to deliver multiple benefits for oceans-based economic growth.
• FAO is particularly pleased that in recent ears Pacific SIDS have been more engaged in FAO’s work and I really encourage you to be more present. Your leadership in guiding our work is welcome and needed.
• I am hopeful that the outcome of the meeting will be brought to the high level Climate Conference (in Bonn) under the Presidency of Fiji and to the FAO Asia Pacific Regional Conference next April in Fiji.
SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST