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FAO Regional Conference for Europe Wraps Up with Focus on Agrifood System Transformation

The 34th FAO ERC session embodied a shared effort to rethink agrifood systems in Europe and Central Asia, advocating for innovation and collaboration.

Shivam Dwivedi
FAO Regional Conference for Europe Wraps Up with Focus on Agrifood System Transformation (Photo Source: FAO/X)
FAO Regional Conference for Europe Wraps Up with Focus on Agrifood System Transformation (Photo Source: FAO/X)

The 34th Session of the FAO Regional Conference for Europe (ERC) concluded on May 17, 2024 after an intensive four-day discourse centered around reshaping agrifood systems in Europe and Central Asia. Representatives from 53 Member countries convened in Rome at FAO's headquarters to deliberate on strategies amidst pressing challenges ranging from the conflict in Ukraine to the looming specter of climate change.

FAO Director-General QU Dongyu lauded the conference for its role in delineating priorities essential for enhancing FAO's effectiveness in the region. He particularly acknowledged the leadership of Vladimir Bolea, Moldova's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture, who chaired the ministerial conference.

An important ministerial session underscored the imperative of innovation and digitalization in fostering sustainable utilization of natural resources. Discussions revolved around adopting climate-resilient and low-emission approaches to managing land, forests, and water resources.

Commitment to FAO's Four Betters and SDGs

ERC Members reaffirmed their commitment to FAO's "Four Betters" framework and the Sustainable Development Goals, with a keen focus on SDG 2 aimed at eradicating hunger and malnutrition. Participants engaged in collaborative dialogues concerning vital issues such as climate action in agrifood systems, water resource management, true cost accounting, and sustainable locust management.

A dedicated session on Foresight Drivers and Triggers encouraged strategic, long-term contemplation on the future of food and agriculture. Attendees were prompted to explore various scenarios and discern the interplay between immediate pressures and forthcoming trends.

A side event spotlighted the challenges faced by landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) in the region, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, North Macedonia, Republic of Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. These nations confront elevated transportation costs, restricted access to global markets, and intricate import-export procedures due to their lack of direct sea access. Additionally, they bear the brunt of climate change impacts, exemplified by recent droughts in Moldova and flooding in Kazakhstan.

Director-General QU Dongyu emphasized that despite these challenges, LLDCs harbor untapped potential in their agrifood systems. Through innovation, strategic partnerships, and technological integration, these countries can bolster economic growth, ensure food security, and mitigate climate-related adversities.

The side event featured insights from Uzbekistan's Minister of Agriculture, Ibrokhim Abdurakhmonov, who delineated his country's challenges and outlined a market-driven agricultural strategy.

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