Fiji to host FAO Asia-Pacific Regional Conference 2018

Fiji will host the the 34th FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific (APRC), the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations announced on Friday.

The arrangements for the 34th APRC, from 9 – 13 April, 2018, were formalised in the Fijian capital of Suva following the signing of a Memorandum of Responsibilities by Fiji’s Minister for Agriculture Inia Seruiratu, and Kundhavi Kadiresan, FAO’s Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific. Also present was Eriko Hibi, the FAO Sub-Regional Coordinator for the Pacific Islands.

Ministers and delegates from more than 40 member countries across the Asia-Pacific region will participate in the APRC. The conference, convened every two years, results in recommendations by the governments that guide FAO’s work in the vast Asia-Pacific region, and provide further guidance to FAO’s global conference in Rome in June the following year.

This is the first time in more than two decades that a country in the Pacific has hosted an APRC and the event will provide an opportunity to present issues relating to food and nutrition security that are specific to small island states. FAO established a physical presence in Fiji in 2016 with the launch of its office in Suva.

“This APRC will be a major opportunity to look at the issues impacting not only the Asia-Pacific region but, specifically, the Pacific region, and to develop joint collaborations to address challenges,” Kadiresan said.

Addressing issues relating to climate change and mitigating its effects in Pacific island countries, and others across Asia, is a major focus of FAO’s work. The organisation worked to bring the agriculture agenda into the climate dialogue in COP23, where the Fijian Minister was a leading voice, Kadiresan said. She added that Governments of the Asia-Pacific region, development partners and communities realise the need to be better prepared to deal with and prevent negative impacts of climatic events and that the FAO stands ready to support those efforts.

In the Asia-Pacific region, nearly half-a-billion people are undernourished, which is more than 60 per cent of the world’s total. On average, one child in every four suffers from stunting, due to an inadequate intake of nutrients and micronutrients needed to reach full maturity, both physically and mentally. Obesity is also a major concern, particularly for countries in the Pacific.

“In the Asia-Pacific region, there are huge challenges with respect to food and nutrition security, mostly relating to hunger but also to obesity and non-communicable diseases, issues that need to be seriously addressed,” Kadiresan said.

In addition to the APRC, the Asia and Pacific Commission on Agricultural Statistics will be held in March 2018, also in Fiji, and will focus on policies, statistics and data, which are important to any country to establish baselines, clarify needs and initiate responses to agricultural and nutritional challenges.

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