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Ignoring The Need For Overhauling Our Agrifood Systems In The Asia-Pacific Region Would Seal The Fate Of Agenda 2030

As the SDG deadline edges closer, ignoring the need for overhauling our agrifood systems in the Asia-Pacific region would seal the fate of Agenda 2030

18/12/2023, Bangkok – While some gains were made at the recent COP28 climate conference in Dubai, talk and pledges need to become action, and without another moment to spare, the Asia-Pacific Regional Office of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported today.

Agriculture in Asia and the Pacific is increasingly challenged to provide enough food to feed the hungriest and most populated region of the world, in an environmentally resilient and inclusive way that will benefit all. Yet there is an urgent need for agrifood systems transformation to take place that begins on the farm or at sea, and extends all the way through transportation, retail and consumer habits.

FAO’s Regional Office and that of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) have conducted a series of workshops this month and last to urge policy makers to take, at least remedial actions, to begin the process of an agrifood systems transformation. All the participants came to a consensus that now, more than ever, their countries must transform their agrifood systems. As one participant said, “we need to bring home this message and convince our decision-makers to act decisively now otherwise the costs of our inaction will be too high.”

Countries that participated in the first workshop in November came from Southeast Asia: Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Philippines, Thailand and Timor-Leste, while participants from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, attended a workshop dedicated for Southern Asia earlier this month.

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These workshops concluded with concrete responses to the expressed need for technical as well financial support to deal with the challenges that can deter the full and immediate implementation of their action plans based on their national pathways for agrifood systems transformation.

Moreover, the workshops brought front to the fore the need to strengthen the environmental dimensions in their national pathways and action plans for agrifood systems transformation.

Two UN Agencies – common purpose in Asia-Pacific

UNEP collaborated with FAO in both workshops to join forces and address the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution and ensure that the environmental dimension is integrated into national pathways for agrifood systems transformation.

There was also a strong show of support from the UN Food System Coordination Hub, with the participation of the FAO Director, Stefanos Fotiou, who challenged the country teams to move forward with the agrifood systems agenda. UNEP was also represented by a team led by Marietta Sakalian, Global Coordinator for Nature Action Sub- programme and James Lomax, UNEP’s Lead for sustainable food systems.

As a next step, the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific and UNEP Asia and the Pacific Office will continue to support country-level actions and preparations are underway to assist countries translate their national pathways into costed action plans, strengthen their environmental dimension and establish a monitoring and evaluation system to establish benchmark and track progress made and formulate national investment plans and capacity development roadmaps, both at national and regional levels.

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