Managing natural resources sustainably while also coping with climate change is the focus of a new FAO initiative for food and agriculture in Europe and Central Asia. The initiative was endorsed by FAO’s regional governing body when it convened last month in Voronezh, Russian Federation.

The FAO Regional Conference for Europe called for national governments to adopt a food systems approach, looking to achieve sustainability all along the value chain from farm to fork. It highlighted the concept of “agroecology” which recognizes the interdependence of agriculture and nature.

Ministers and other participants in a high-level roundtable on the opening day of the Conference (16-18 May 2018) stressed the need for the agricultural sector to address climate change – by adapting to change, and by reducing practices that may be fueling climate change. They emphasized the need for research and quality data on agroecological approaches – including sustainable use of ecosystem services while also addressing climate change.

“We were very encouraged by the Conference’s decision to add this new Regional Initiative,” said FAO agricultural officer Tania Santivanez. “The whole substance and tone of the discussion was quite forward-looking. This puts FAO in an even better position to assist the Members with application of the latest thinking and sustainable strategies to guarantee food security, eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development.”

“This puts FAO in an even better position to assist . . . with application of the latest thinking and strategies to guarantee food security, eradicate poverty, and achieve sustainable development.”

Tania Santivanez
FAO Agricultural Officer

The Conference noted that food safety and quality standards contribute to efficient and sustainable food systems, and recognized increased consumer and producer interest in sustainable agricultural products, including organic. It underlined the need to develop partnerships and align investments – especially from the private sector – to foster sustainable and resilient food systems. It also pointed to a need to reduce food loss and waste throughout the supply chain.

Endorsement of the new initiative brings the number of FAO Regional Initiatives for Europe and Central Asia to three:

  1. Empowering smallholders and family farms for improved livelihoods and poverty reduction

  2. Improving agrifood trade and market integration

  3. Managing natural resources sustainably, under a changing climate

The Regional Initiatives reflect specific needs and conditions in the Europe and Central Asia region, where political and economic transition have had an impact on agroecological systems. The Initiatives dovetail with the Organization’s overall strategic framework, which supports achievement of the global Sustainable Development Goals.

The FAO Regional Conference for Europe comprises 53 member countries and one member organization, the European Union. It is the Organization’s highest governing body for the Europe and Central Asia region, meeting every two years in a different member country.