Bangladesh to participate UN FAO Asia and the Pacific Regional Conference 

Staff Reporter, Dhaka

File Photo: FAO

Bangladesh is virtually participating at the Senior Level Officers Meeting (SOM) in a major international conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The SOM is the forum of the senior officers from the 46 member states in the Asia and the Pacific to discuss multilateral effort to reform agrifood systems across the Asia-Pacific region, after years of pandemic, climate emergencies, volatile markets and economies that have affected millions of producers and consumers.

The Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific (#APRC37) is convened by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and hosted by the Government of Sri Lanka.   

The delegation from Bangladesh is headed by Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture. The FAO Representation in Bangladesh is providing technical support to the delegation.

“FAO in Bangladesh is working hand in hand with its counterparts to support reform in agrifood systems,” said Jiaoqun Shi, FAO Representative in Bangladesh. 

“This country’s high-level participation in this important conference will help guide FAO’s work here in Bangladesh and right across the Asia and Pacific region, as all FAO Member Nations share a common goal of achieving the SDGs by 2030, particularly those goals relating to hunger, poverty and inequality,” he added.

There are 46 FAO Member Nations in Asia and the Pacific. Hundreds of high-level participants are registering for a senior official’s meeting (31 January to 2 February 2024 – virtually), and a Ministerial Session from 19 to 22 February 2024 (in-person). The FAO Director-General, Dr Qu Dongyu, is expected to travel from FAO headquarters in Rome to participate in the Ministerial Session.

Most of the issues to be discussed are of vital interest to Bangladesh. Ministerial roundtable discussions such as securing future food and nutrition, following lessons learned from the above convergent crises; investment and financing for poverty reduction and modernization, and lessons learned in saving water and food and reducing loss and waste – all have a common interest across the region.  

Building resilience will be a key topic. A special Ministerial event will focus on a number of thematic areas, such as championing modernization and digitalization for smallholders in aquaculture and livestock along with an overall transformation of agrifood systems in countries across the vast region. 

For Bangladesh, key priority areas include economic transformation -pursuing an accelerated shift towards more sustainable and inclusive economic growth, with increased and equitable opportunities for decent jobs and livelihoods through the food systems approach in the agriculture sector. 

Healthy, safe and nutritious food focuses on encompassing human capabilities and social development, addressing hunger and gaps in health, nutrition, food security, water, sanitation, and hygiene, education and learning, child and youth protection, migration services, and social protection. Climate resilience and nature-based, low-carbon sustainable development is another key area that is prioritized -focusing on accelerating actions on climate change resilience and adaptation; conserving biodiversity and ecosystem services for food and agriculture; natural resources and water management; renewable energy and a transition to environmental sustainability, disaster risk reduction along with reducing vulnerabilities to natural hazards. Finally gender equality and youth development are a cross-cutting pillar that addresses structural and intersectoral inequalities to foster an environment in which women, girls, sexual minorities and youth live free from discrimination. 

Prior to the 37th APRC, a Country Consultation was held in December 2023, where the participants discussed APRC agenda and prepared a few recommendations. 

Bangladesh has been one of the fastest growing economies in the world over the last decade and offers positive investment opportunities for private investors within the food system. Massive investments have been channeled in support to food systems transformation by the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) and Development Partners (DPs). 

As per to the “Bangladesh Third Country Investment Plan – Sustainable Nutrition Sensitive and Resilient Food Systems” (CIP3, 2021-25), investments are ongoing on “efficient and nutrition sensitive post-harvest transformation and value addition. Identified priority investment areas for Bangladesh are mapped as agro-processing, marketing and commercialization; specialized, multipurpose cold storage, post-harvest management, supply chain management; climate smart agriculture; and irrigation and water management.