The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has concluded its 32nd Session of the FAO Regional Conference for Africa in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.
The meeting saw African countries commit to raising ambitions for Sustainable Development Goals. African countries have committed to growing their ambitions and accelerating their actions toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly ending poverty and hunger. Sixty-two Ministers from 54 African countries participated in the conference. The meeting is reported to have the most significant country representation, with more than half the ministers attending in person in Malabo and the remainder joining online.
The FAO Director-General expressed gratitude and thanked all participants for making the program successful. “I’m happy to see the conference has been a success. In his closing remarks, it has been a success because of our collective engagement and determination to contribute and compromise,” said FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu.
Qu urged countries to adopt enabling policies, innovation and science, and sound investment for agrifood systems transformation in Africa. “We have a lot more work to do, and we must continue to work together efficiently, effectively, and coherently,” he said.
The Director-General also thanked the Government of Equatorial Guinea for hosting the conference and the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Forests and Environment, H.E. Francisca Eneme Efua, for her strong leadership as Conference Chairperson.
Countries welcome FAO’s Four Betters
In the ministerial declaration shared at the conference, ministers welcomed the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31, which shapes the organization’s work towards achieving the SDGs under the Four Betters: better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life for all, leaving no one behind.
“We call on our partners to support our efforts by enhancing investments as we step up our efforts towards transforming agrifood systems through implementing the Four Betters,” Deputy Minister for Agriculture of Tanzania, Anthony Peter Mavunde, said reading the declaration on behalf of the Ministers.
The Ministers also affirmed the centrality of women and young people in Africa’s transformation of agrifood systems. They called on FAO to accelerate concrete actions to tackle the impacts of the climate crisis – calling it a “major threat to the African region.”
Countries meet during waning hunger crisis
The conference was held during a tough time for Africa. The war in Ukraine and a devastating drought in the Horn of Africa caused instability to the continent’s food security.
Close to 800 delegates participated in the four-day event, plus those following the discussions through the live stream. Participants included representatives from 34 inter-governmental organizations, including the African Union Commission and ECOWAS, more than 30 civil society and academic organizations, and 28 private sector representatives.
Also, at the conference, the FAO Director-General launched a set of investment guidelines for youth in agrifood systems in Africa, together with the African Union Commission. “These guidelines should be incorporated into your policies. Youth are the future of Africa,” he said.
The Director-General also held a series of bilateral meetings with many of the country representatives on the sidelines of the conference to engage them and quiz out their suggestions on making the investment guidelines for youth a reality.
“As the son of a farming family, I always say I have rural people in my heart and on my mind. I want to see agricultural and rural transformation in Africa address the multi-dimensional inequalities, between city and rural areas, between men and women, and between rich and poor. It’s a long journey. We need a life-long commitment and consistent action,” he said.