The Eleventh Meeting of Southwest Pacific Ministers of Agriculture under the theme “Climate Smart Agriculture” began today with Papua New Guinea Deputy Prime Minister Leo Dion and FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva highlighting some of the pressing issues affecting the countries in the region.
“I believe that the theme Climate Smart Agriculture is timely in view of the fact that the Pacific region is highly vulnerable to adverse climatic conditions such as cyclones, El Niño, sea level rise and storm surges,” Dion said during his opening speech at the meeting which is being held in Papua New Guinea’s capital, Port Moresby.
”Clearly new approaches will be needed for a climate-constrained agriculture and high priority in this regard is disaster preparedness and response,” Dion added.
In his statement to the ministers, FAO’s Director-General stressed how “climate change poses a threat to the very survival of the Southwest Pacific, and in most of the small islands around the globe.”
“Climate change can only be addressed using an ‘all of government ’approach,” Graziano da Silva said, adding: “Ministries of agriculture, fisheries and forestry need to be at the table when countries develop and implement domestic policies to address climate change and national positions for the negotiations”.
“FAO is here to help you and provide you support on how to actively participate in those debates,” the FAO Director-General said.
Referring to undernourishment and the need for healthy diets, Deputy Prime Minister Dion noted how “persistent hunger and malnutrition remains the norm for millions of our fellow citizens.”
“Global concerns on food security impose obligations on national governments to establish non-discriminatory and non-political laws to ensure that their population has access to adequate food,” he added.
FAO’s Director General noted how “obesity and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) have become important public health issues worldwide, but especially for the Pacific Island Countries.”
Graziano da Silva said FAO will address the problem of nutrition and NCDs in the Pacific through a series of measures, including the Pacific Regional Initiative on Value Chains for Food Security and Nutrition in the Pacific Islands.
The Eleventh Meeting of Southwest Pacific Ministers of Agriculture brings together ministers and officials from the FAO Pacific member countries, representatives from international and regional organizations and institutions.
Discussions on progress on the development of agriculture, forestry and fisheries within the FAO Pacific member states are the basis for recommendations which are being presented to Ministers and representatives. The decisions by the Ministers will then help guide activities in these sectors by FAO, the member countries, and other development partners.