Canada and the United States reaffirm the continued centrality of FAO’s mandate

Rome – As the world confronts war, humanitarian emergencies, the impacts of the climate crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, overlapping with the persistent challenges of hunger and poverty, FAO is responding urgently to build resilient agrifood systems. This was the message of QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) at the 7th session of the Informal North American Regional Conference (INARC), which was hosted virtually by the United States from 12 to 14 April 2022.

The INARC was established in 2010 as a forum to strengthen collaboration between FAO and the North American Region, comprising Canada and the United States. It provides an opportunity for these two FAO Members to share their priorities with FAO, and for a mutual exchange on the way forward for the effective implementation of the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31.

Since the idea of a permanent UN agency focused on food, nutrition and agriculture was first planted in Hot Springs, Virginia, where 44 governments gathered 80 years ago, and FAO’s establishment in Quebec in 1945, both the US and Canada have played a key role across FAO’s areas of work, and are among the Organization’s top resource partners. “The ongoing fruitful collaboration between the North America region and FAO is crucial, and I appreciate the continued support you have provided,” said Qu Dongyu.

“The United States will look to FAO to use its voice, its data, its policy recommendations, and its leadership to implement the Council’s decision and address the far-reaching food security effects of Russia’s war in Ukraine,” said Ambassador Cindy McCain, Permanent Representative of the U.S. Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome (FAO, WFP, IFAD). “We also are ready to work with FAO to achieve an ambitious climate change strategy that addresses mitigation and adaptation, and bolsters agricultural resilience while making food systems part of the solution. And we will support the science and innovation strategy as a critical tool.”

“It is in all of our interests that FAO succeeds, to avoid the human suffering, instability, and loss of potential that we know food insecurity causes, and to ultimately get back on track to achieve SDG 2 and the broader 2030 Agenda,” said Ambassador Elissa Golberg, Permanent Representative of Canada to the UN Agencies in Rome (IFAD, FAO, WFP). “Canada stands ready to be a constructive Member, a thoughtful partner, and an active stakeholder as we seek to deliver effective solutions for sustainable transformation of food systems.”

Over the three-day conference, FAO’s leadership presented on the Organization’s vision as outlined in the Strategic Framework 2022-31, which aims to support the 2030 Agenda by creating more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable agrifood systems.. The aspiration of the Four Betters – Better Production, Better Nutrition, Better Environment and a Better Life for All, leaving no one behind –  provide a strategic and system-oriented approach across FAO’s entire programme of work.

The informal conference was updated on the impacts of the war in Ukraine on global food value-chains for grains, oil seeds and fertilizer, which threaten food security in countries that are already highly vulnerable to hunger and malnutrition. Looking forward, Canada and the United States emphasized the need for FAO, along with other UN agencies, to assess the loss and damage from this conflict and to contribute to a reconstruction plan, in line with their respective mandates.

Other key areas discussed were climate adaptation and mitigation, gender equality, private sector engagement, science and innovation, FAO’s governance reforms, Rome-Based-Agencies Collaboration, and FAO’s lead role in the UN Food Systems Summit Coordination Hub, among other topics.

Ahead of the conference, two public roundtables, hosted by the FAO Liaison Office for North America on 8 April, convened non-state actors on the issues of balancing the response to humanitarian crises and how to leverage the private sector to drive innovation for sustainable agrifood systems.

Overall, the two FAO Members recognized and encouraged FAO’s leadership in the areas of agrifood systems transformation and resilience building, capitalizing on FAO’s unique organizational capacities and competencies to provide tools, guidance and support to Members. The next INARC will take place in 2024 and will be hosted by the government of Canada.

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