Near East and North Africa (NENA) ministers approved a ministerial declaration that provides the basis for enhanced cooperation across the region to develop sustainable solutions to the most urgent and pressing food and agricultural challenges, aimed at recovering from COVID-19 impacts and transforming food systems
The declaration was adopted during the 35th FAO Regional Conference for the Near East (21-22 September), virtually hosted by the Sultanate of Oman, in which 30 FAO Members, as well as representatives from partner organisations, civil society, the private sector and academia, gathered to discuss innovative policy solutions related to this year’s theme ‘Transforming Food Systems to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals’.
The declaration focuses on how governments, the private sector, civil society and communities can work together to end hunger and poverty, ensure healthy diets for all and address the growing challenges of water scarcity, climate change and transboundary pests and diseases.
It recognises the need for financial and technical support and cooperation to be mobilised in order to fund much-needed investments and innovations in agriculture, water management, food value chains and the institutions driving these solutions.
In his address to the regional conference, the FAO director-general QU Dongyu listed four crucial elements to kick start the rural transformation, fuel economic growth and help transform the region’s food systems. These elements are:
-Well-designed multi-sectoral policies that create an enabling environment;
-Innovation of processes and agricultural inputs;
-Well-targeted public and private investments; and
-Vital agricultural activity.
The NENA countries have also recognised the importance of small-scale family farmers and fishermen, the central role of women throughout the food value chain, and the need to generate more employment opportunities for young people in agriculture.