As the world still grapples with the far-reaching impacts of global pandemics, climate emergencies, conflicts, and volatile markets and economies, the importance of building new, resilient, and sustainable agrifood systems has never been more apparent.
Bringing Philippine priorities to the Asia-Pacific Dialogue
The transformation of the way we produce, handle, and consume food will certainly feature high on the agenda of Asia Pacific Ministers during the high-level meeting taking place from February 19 to 22 in Colombo, Sri Lanka, to conclude a highly successful thirty-seventh session of the Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific (#APRC37).
This conference, organized under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and hosted by the Government of Sri Lanka, serves as a vital forum for countries to come together, exchange ideas, and chart a course towards a more food-secure and prosperous Asia-Pacific region. Throughout its history, the APRC has consistently strived to address the diverse challenges facing the agricultural sector while fostering cooperation among countries in the region.
Department of Agriculture takes the lead
The Philippines actively participated in the first leg of the APRC37, the Senior Officers’ Meeting held virtually from January 31 to February 2. The Department of Agriculture delegate was elected unanimously by the other participating nations to serve as rapporteur and chair of the drafting committee, demonstrating the recognition of the country’s commitment and dedication to advancing the region’s agricultural agenda.
The Senior Officers’ Meeting also highlighted the Philippines’ priorities central to its cooperation with FAO: promotion of Blue Transformation, transformation of food systems for healthy diets, equitable access for family farmers to resources and markets, vulnerability to climate change, vocational training in agriculture for youth, and strengthening of data and statistics for evidence-based decision-making.
Delving further during the Ministerial Event
During the Ministerial event, the Philippine delegation will delve into a new range of topics, among them: strategizing subsequent steps following the management of a recent converging crisis; fostering resilience via the transformation of agrifood systems; channeling investments and financing towards poverty alleviation and modernization; drawing insights from effective practices in conserving food and water, as well as minimizing losses and waste; advocating for the modernization and digitalization to benefit smallholder farmers and fishers; and promoting agrotourism as a means to bolster rural livelihoods.
The Philippines, along with other participating countries, will have the opportunity to share insights, experiences, and best practices in addressing the complex interplay of factors affecting food security and agricultural development. Through constructive dialogue and cooperation, ministers will seek to forge partnerships and mobilize resources to support initiatives aimed at transforming and securing agrifood systems across the region.
“The outcomes of the APRC will guide the work of governments in the region, especially to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to food security, poverty reduction, and sustainable agriculture by 2030”, Lionel Dabbadie, FAO Representative in the Philippines, said.
“This conference will be a pivotal regional forum for examining how Asia-Pacific countries have been handling critical challenges in food security, nutrition, and poverty, and to share lessons learned. The Philippines has a lot to bring in this regard, whether it be on Anticipatory Action, Forestry and Water Catchment rehabilitation, Biodiversity, Integrated Pest Management, One Health, Peace building, Enterprises development, Small-Scale Fisheries or Agrotourism. The APRC will be an effective collaborative platform for exchanging expertise and formulating strategies to transform our agrifood systems to achieve enhanced outcomes for people living in the region,” he added.
FAO in the Philippines
FAO’s work in the Philippines encompasses a wide range of projects and programs aimed at promoting sustainable agriculture, enhancing food security, and empowering rural communities. Through capacity-building initiatives, technical assistance, and policy support, FAO continues to play a pivotal role in strengthening the resilience of agricultural systems and improving the lives and livelihoods of millions of people across the country.
One of them is the collaboration between FAO, the Green Climate Fund (GCF), and the Philippine government. The GCF approved support for a seven-year initiative worth USD 39.2 million aimed at boosting the climate resilience of vulnerable smallholder farmers in the Philippines. By working from the ground up, this will rapidly advance the country’s transition to more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive agrifood systems.
FAO Philippines also participated in the inter-agency dialogue with UN Country Teams that, among others, led to the preparation of the Common Country Analysis that provided the foundation for the 2024-2028 UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework for the Philippines, which identifies strategic priorities to guide the work of all United Nations development system entities in their joint efforts to support the Philippines’ pursuit of sustainable development and toward achieving the 2030 Agenda.