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Cook Islands and other Pacific nations call for support in transforming agrifood

Wednesday 12 July 2023 | Written by Joanne Holden | Published in Environment, National


Cook Islands and other Pacific nations call for support in transforming agrifood
Temarama Anguna-Kamana. 18092836

The Cook Islands has joined in a call for global action to make agrifood systems more efficient, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable.

The call was made ahead of the 43rd biennial Ministerial Conference for the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome, where Cook Islands Ministry of Agriculture Secretary Temarama Anguna-Kamana is representing the county. 

The conference – which began on Saturday and runs until Friday – was proceeded by a gathering of Small Island Developing States, Least Developed Countries, and Landlocked Developing Countries.

Discussions surrounded "harnessing the potential" of the nations most affected by climate change to achieve the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the FAO said in a statement.

The nations "urge the world to join them in taking urgent action to help island states transform their agrifood systems, to mitigate the negative effects of climate change and resolve nutritional deficiencies faced by their island inhabitants," the FAO said.

Agrifood refers to the agricultural food chain.

"The pressing issue of climate change took centre stage, as the participants explored ways to transform agrifood systems in response to a changing climate.

"The Pacific Island countries, well aware of the increasing incidences and intensity of extreme weather events, presented innovative practices, methodologies, and technologies to adapt and mitigate the adverse effects of climate change."

As well as the Cook Islands, representatives from Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, and Tonga took part in the high-level ministerial meeting. 

"Despite the modest size of these countries, their voices hold great significance in the global discussions on agrifood systems," the FAO said.

"The Pacific Island countries have faced more than their fair share of challenges, particularly exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and increasingly devastating weather-related events.

"They have experienced rising prices and disruptions to their agrifood systems, highlighting the need for their voices to be heard and their specific challenges to be addressed in the global dialogue."

FAO Pacific Islands subregional coordinator Xiangjun Yao said Pacific voices were "frequently marginalized in global dialogues and decision-making processes".

"The voices and perspectives of the Pacific Islands carry significant worth and should be integrated into the global discourse," Yao said. 

"By actively engaging in events such as this high-level meeting, we can bridge this gap and strive to address their unique challenges and foster inclusive and sustainable agrifood systems for all.”

FAO said it also worked closely with Pacific nations through programmes such as the SIDS Solutions Platform, the Hand-in-Hand Initiative, One Country One Priority Product (OCOP), and Digital Village Initiatives (DVI) to "support their efforts in transforming their agrifood systems, building resilience, and achieving the 2030 Agenda".