The logo of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is seen on the door of the headquarters in Rome August 31, 2005 / REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
CAIRO – 6 February 2018: The 30th session of the Food and Agriculture Organization of The United Nation’s (FAO) Regional Conference for Africa (ARC) is set to take place between February 19 and 23. In anticipation of what is expected to be a very productive and fructuous conference, Egypt Today presents a concise analysis of the expected topics to be discussed.
The first issue that will be discussed, as per the
is the “State of Food and Agriculture in Africa: Future Prospects and Emerging Issues.” In 2017, FAO released a report titled “State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World,” concluding that after a prolonged decline, world hunger appears to be on the rise once more. Throughout the analytical part of the report, it discusses different aspects and reasons behind this rise, most of which link back to climate-related shocks and man-made disasters.
To achieve Zero Hunger in Africa, the conference will aim to provide a platform to African ministers, countries and African NGOs to exchange their experiences and lessons learnt throughout the past few years. The platform will also match different organizations and countries to each other with the overall purpose of achieving a precise plan to face the current issues in Africa.
Zero Hunger Challenge – Photo courtesy of the official Zero Hunger Challenge website
As a continent that faces many droughts that often lead to famine, as John Seaman and other researchers suggest, there is a desperate need for African organizations and institutions to reflect on the conflict-food security nexus and review the role of social protection, topics that this conference is expected to cover. Moreover, there is a need to discuss the rural life of Africa, which many researchers believe are adequate to ensure that Africa does not suffer from famine again. The problem of Africa, as many researchers have suggested time and time again, is the relatively low population density of about 65 people per square mile, as Africa Research website points out. This puts Africa behind Asia, Europe and South America in terms of population density.
The good news is that Africa has currently a population boom: 40 percent of all humans are expected to be African by the end of the century, according to Africa Research website. This growth is set to make Africa more important than ever in regards to the global economy.
Moreover, the conference will be able to discuss different ways to mobilize different resources to effectively implement key policies and interventions to achieve the goals, such as raising agricultural productivity for sustainable growth, previously set out in the African Unions 2063 Agenda, which includes food security as one of the primary goals.
For more information on the Zero Hunger round table, see the document for the Ministerial round table
The second issue that is expected to be discussed is climate change and the negative impact it has on the work and activities of the FOA. The session will work on building resilience to address the extreme vulnerably of Africa’s agriculture and rural livelihoods.
The session will provide an update on the implementation of the FAO Climate Change Strategy in Africa, as well as assessing the impact of climate change of food security. This will allow attendees to share their experiences and discuss policies and initiatives that need to be built in order to protect against human- and climate-induced shocks that often mitigate development in the region. The focus of the session will be two-fold.
First, they will focus on pre-emptively minimizing the impact of hazards, ensuring that they do not develop to become disasters; in other words, they will build what specialists call resilience. Practical Action defines resilience in a 2013 publication as “the ability of a system, community, or society to pursue its social, ecological, and economic development and growth objectives, while managing its disaster risk overtime in a way that contributes to sustainable growth and helps to mitigate disaster risk.”
Second, the platform will aim to discuss and strengthen disaster risk reduction (DRR) in Africa. DRR refers to “the concept and practice of reducing disaster risks through systematic efforts to analyse and manage the causal factors of disasters, including through reduced exposure to hazards, lessened vulnerability of people and property, wise management of land and the environment, and improved preparedness for adverse events,” according to a United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) report published 2009.
The session will advocate for the systemic mainstreaming of resilience and disaster risk reduction – both of which combined are known as disaster risk management (DRM), ensure that interventions and actors are connected and it will press for evidence-based policies and highlight the importance of analytical work.
This discussion of this topic is expected to have a significant positive impact as Africa currently suffers severely from all hazards due to lack of preparation in the face of hazards and issues. Currently, South America and Asia have managed to curb the negative impact of hazards due to their continuous work on resilience and DRR. Peru, India and Nepal are pioneers in this field as they have managed to reduce disaster risks, reaching a level where they suffer minimal physical, monetary and human losses. Their focus on curbing the negative effects of hazards has also ensured that their human, social, economic and political development does not have to slow down.
By combining between social capitals, meaning – in its shortest definition – human capabilities, state institutions and NGOs, the FAO is certainly on track to ensure Africa is able to withstand any hazards, as
has suggested that social capital is the best tool to reduce disaster risk and ensure high-quality resilience. Only through the involvement of human beings and their sense of ownership can a country move forward with its disaster risk management plans.
The third issue that will be discussed is youth employment opportunities in agriculture and rural sectors in Africa. As it stands, there are some 200 million people aged between 15 and 24 in Africa. With the youngest population in the world, Africa, which has currently high unemployment levels, has the opportunity to develop quicker than other countries. Youths, especially in more rural areas, are finding it increasingly difficult to find work that allows them to earn a sufficient income; they are currently resorting to migration to urban areas and abroad, meaning that rural areas are left without youths to develop it, other causing the slow-down of rural areas.
The region’s unemployment rates, according to the FAO, which stands just under 10 percent masks endemic unemployment coupled with high numbers of people in informal jobs that grant them low pay. Over 90 percent, according to the FAO, are among the working poor. To solve the problem of youth employment in the region and develop the agricultural and rural economy, the session suggests that it is best if youths work within the agricultural sector in rural areas. The session will discuss the challenges facing the youths who work in rural areas and will then offer policies and recommendations for promoting agribusiness opportunities for youths. Additionally, there will also be a focus on the need to involve the youths in policy discussions around agri-food systems and agribusiness.
By opening up the discussion about the move of youths from the rural to urban areas and the need to move them back to rural areas, Africa is set to increase employment and entrepreneurship opportunities in rural areas, increase the connectedness between urban and rural areas and invest in training of young men and women, ensuring that they both benefit themselves and their countries.
In case you are intrigued, you can find the “Leveraging Youth Employment Opportunities in Agriculture in Rural” document
The fourth issue that will be discussed is the need to mainstream biodiversity across three fields: agriculture, fisheries and forestry.
Biodiversity is important, according to the FAO, as it is a vital factor in the journey towards the achievement of food security and good nutrition. According to research, all agricultural sectors, including crop and livestock agriculture, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture, rely on biodiversity, as well as ecosystem functions and services.
During the FAO’s 40th session, the organization welcomed the initiative to become a “Biodiversity Mainstreaming Platform,” and requested that its partners help in the integration of biodiversity across agricultural sectors at all levels. Although little is known of the topic, the mainstreaming of biodiversity is expected to be considered in 2018 by all relevant FAO governing bodies, including Regional Conference for Africa. “Results will be reported to the FAO Conference and the 14th Conference ofthe Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity,” according to the FAO.
The Regional Conference for Africa is also set to include the outcome from the