Rome – As the world confronts war, humanitarian emergencies, the impacts of the climate crisis & the COVID-19 pandemic, overlapping with the persistent challenges of hunger & poverty, FAO is responding urgently to build resilient agrifood systems. This was the message of QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) at the 7th session of the Informal North American Regional Conference (INARC), which was hosted virtually by the United States from 12 to 14 April 2022.
The INARC was established in 2010 as a forum to strengthen collaboration between FAO & the North American Region, comprising Canada & the United States. It provides an opportunity for these two FAO Members to share their priorities with FAO, & for a mutual exchange on the way forward for the effective implementation of the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31.
Since the idea of a permanent UN agency focused on food, nutrition & agriculture was first planted in Hot Springs, Virginia, where 44 governments gathered 80 years ago, & FAO’s establishment in Quebec in 1945, both the US & Canada have played a key role across FAO’s areas of work, & are among the Organization’s top resource partners. “The ongoing fruitful collaboration between the North America region & FAO is crucial, & I appreciate the continued support you have provided,” said Qu Dongyu.
“The United States will look to FAO to use its voice, its data, its policy recommendations, & its leadership to implement the Council’s decision & address the far-reaching food security effects of Russia’s war in Ukraine,” said Ambassador Cindy McCain, Permanent Representative of the U.S. Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome (FAO, WFP, IFAD). “We also are ready to work with FAO to achieve an ambitious climate change strategy that addresses mitigation & adaptation, & bolsters agricultural resilience while making food systems part of the solution. & we will support the science & innovation strategy as a critical tool.”
“It is in all of our interests that FAO succeeds, to avoid the human suffering, instability, & loss of potential that we know food insecurity causes, & to ultimately get back on track to achieve SDG 2 & the broader 2030 Agenda,” said Ambassador Elissa Golberg, Permanent Representative of Canada to the UN Agencies in Rome (IFAD, FAO, WFP). “Canada stands ready to be a constructive Member, a thoughtful partner, & an active stakeholder as we seek to deliver effective solutions for sustainable transformation of food systems.”
Over the three-day conference, FAO’s leadership presented on the Organization’s vision as outlined in the Strategic Framework 2022-31, which aims to support the 2030 Agenda by creating more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient & more sustainable agrifood systems.. The aspiration of the Four Betters – Better Production, Better Nutrition, Better Environment & a Better Life for All, leaving no one behind – provide a strategic & system-oriented approach across FAO’s entire programme of work.
The informal conference was updated on the impacts of the war in Ukraine on global food value-chains for grains, oil seeds & fertilizer, which threaten food security in countries that are already highly vulnerable to hunger & malnutrition. Looking forward, Canada & the United States emphasized the need for FAO, along with other UN agencies, to assess the loss & damage from this conflict & to contribute to a reconstruction plan, in line with their respective mandates.
Other key areas discussed were climate adaptation & mitigation, gender equality, private sector engagement, science & innovation, FAO’s governance reforms, Rome-Based-Agencies Collaboration, & FAO’s lead role in the UN Food Systems Summit Coordination Hub, among other topics.
Ahead of the conference, two public roundtables, hosted by the FAO Liaison Office for North America on 8 April, convened non-state actors on the issues of balancing the response to humanitarian crises & how to leverage the private sector to drive innovation for sustainable agrifood systems.
Overall, the two FAO Members recognized & encouraged FAO’s leadership in the areas of agrifood systems transformation & resilience building, capitalizing on FAO’s unique organizational capacities & competencies to provide tools, guidance & support to Members. The next INARC will take place in 2024 & will be hosted by the government of Canada.
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