The biennial FAO conference held in Italy has closed after a week-long session which had been chaired by Samoa’s Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Le Mamea Ropati Mualia.
Samoa and other Members have approved the agency’s biennial programme of work and budget, supporting the strategic direction charted out by Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva.
Samoa’s Honorary Consul-General in Italy, Papalii Giovanni Caffarelli, delivered an address on behalf of Samoa, where he called on the FAO leadership to address SIDS issues with a special forum within the FAO.
“We invite you and Member States to consider the lead taken by the ACP Group in establishing a SIDS Forum within FAO.
“The Pacific is an ocean continent. As such, fishery is one of the few resources we possess and we must ensure that the region benefits and receives a fair economic return to assist in the creation of employment opportunities for our people.
“Samoa looks forward to FAO’s assistance in this area. It is also timely and necessary to work with relevant international organizsations to seriously examine the nexus between trade, food security, and the incidence of NCDs,” said Papalii.
Earlier in the week, Conference representatives of more than 120 countries were addressed by His Holiness Pope Francis. The Pontiff stressed the importance of reducing food waste, providing nutrition education, and creating a sense of global solidarity to ensure food security for all people.
“The statistics on food waste are cause for concern.”
“We must all “decisively commit” to modifying our lifestyles and using natural resources in a more sustainable manner,” said Pope Francis.
The Conference formally approved a regular budget of $1,035.7 million for delivery of FAO’s programme of work over the period 2016-2017.
Graziano da Silva in his closing statement to the Conference outlined FAO’s priorities for the coming years, in particular the eradication of hunger, raising levels of nutrition and addressing climate change.
“If FAO’s main mission is to end hunger and malnutrition, then FAO needs to offer holistic support, needs to support sustainable production and management of natural resources, needs to be able to offer support in social protection to reduce rural poverty, needs to improve access to markets by family farmers and needs to help build resilience in rural populations,” he said.
The Final Conference report stressed the importance of consolidating decentralization efforts on a region-specific basis.
Graziano da Silva said that he would press ahead with the process of change, including reinforcing FAO’s subregional offices “to improve our support in regions such as West Africa, Central Asia, the Pacific Islands and the Caribbean.”
He also said that FAO would continue with its efforts to support South-South Cooperation – the sharing of experiences, policies, technology and resources between and among developing countries.
The biennial Conference took place from 6-13 June and was attended by 191 delegations, the highest level of participation in the Organization’s history. These included 16 heads of states and government and 116 ministers with Samoa represented by Le Mamea. A total of 1,700 delegates attended the Conference.
The Conference awarded in a special ceremony 72 countries for having achieved the MDG target of halving the proportion of hungry people. Of these, Samoa and 28 others also met the more stringent goal to halve the number of hungry people as laid out by governments when they met in Rome at the World Food Summit (WFS) in 1996.