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Small Island Developing States, Least Developed Countries and Landlocked Developing Countries issue call for action to accelerate agrifood systems transformation and collectively build resilience

Rome – Ministers, Vice-Ministers and other high-level representatives from dozens of countries most vulnerable to global crises and shocks have issued a call for action to boost the transformation of agrifood systems to make them more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable.

Ahead of the 43rd session of its biennial Ministerial Conference (1 – 7 July), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) today hosted a High-Level Ministerial Event called Transforming agrifood systems to increase resilience and Achieve the 2030 Agenda – Harnessing the potential of Small Island Developing States, Least Developed Countries and Landlocked Developing Countries.

The meeting proposed the establishment of a Ministerial network for Small Island Developing States, Least Developed Countries and Landlocked Developing Countries (SIDS, LDCs and LLDCs) with technical support from FAO. This would share experiences, and knowledge and collectively build resilience to climate change and disasters, resilience to food insecurity, the Blue Transformation roadmap and secure investments and access to finance in order to scale up the transformation of agrifood systems – especially in the face of the impacts of the climate crisis.

In his closing remarks, the FAO Director-General, QU Dongyu, told participants that the ownership of the network was theirs, adding that with countries working in partnership together and with FAO, more and better progress could be achieved towards the common goal of transforming agrifood systems and increasing resilience.

SIDS, LDCs and LLDCs are priority countries for FAO. Soon after Qu took over as Director-General, FAO became the first specialized agency in the UN system to have an Office exclusively focused on addressing these countries’ needs and interlinked challenges.

Participants from Latin America and the Caribbean included Ministers, vice-ministers and high-level representatives of Haiti, Jamaica, Barbados, Dominican Republic, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Cuba, Grenada and Paraguay. Other assistants were from Benin, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cook Islands, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Maldives, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Palau, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Sudan, Togo, Tonga, Uzbekistan and Yemen.

The UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, Rabab Fatima; and the UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, LI Junhua, delivered video messages.

Call for Action

The FAO Director-General made it clear that FAO is ready to further strengthen its support to SIDS, LDCs and LLDCs. To address the climate crisis, for example, Qu stressed the need to “prioritize climate-resilient agricultural practices,” which includes using resilient crop varieties; increasing productivity while reducing greenhouse gas emissions; implementing sustainable and adapted soil, water and land management systems; and developing science-based tools for evidence-based decision-making.

“Key geospatial data from the Hand-in-Hand Initiative can provide the support needed,” Qu said, adding that “data provided by FAO has supported countries in the formulation of policies for efficient land use and access to financing for farmers and local producers.”

The Director-General also emphasized the main points included in the “Call for Action” for agrifood systems transformation in SIDS, LDCs and LLDCs:

Information & Data: to guide decision-making based on scientific evidence, share experiences and build networks.

Innovation: accelerate the development and upscaling of technologies, especially digital technologies such as mobile applications and data analytics, and ensure they are accessible to all.

Investment & Access to Finance: to boost increased, targeted, bold, smart, flexible and upfront and secure funding – including public, private and blended finance. Building resilience mitigates negative impacts and reduces the need for costly emergency assistance.

Inclusivity: 80% of our food is produced by family farmers and smallholder producers, with women playing a major role in food production and supply chains, yet they are often excluded from resources, credit, and decision-making processes.

Among the FAO initiatives that would help to implement these objectives are: The Hand in Hand Initiative; The One Country One Priority Product Initiative; The Green Cities Initiative and the Innovative Climate Financing, including support to access the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Call for Action notes.