EU, FAO Boost Partnership for Superior Agrifood Systems

Rome/Brussels - The European Union (EU) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) concluded on Thursday the Third Monitoring Meeting for the EU-FAO Strategic Dialogue with a call to scale up efforts to transform agrifood systems to make them more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable thus also contributing to progress on a number of interlinked Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The participants delved into the actions undertaken that fall within each of the five priority areas defined at the last Strategic Dialogue in 2021. These areas include: 1) Food Systems and One Health; 2) Climate Change, Biodiversity, and Natural Resources; 3) Food Crises, Food Security, and Resilient Livelihoods; 4) Sustainable Agri-Food Value Chains, Investments, and Policies; and 5) Food Systems Transformation through Digitalization.

"The support from the European Union during this period has been instrumental," said FAO Deputy Director-General Beth Bechdol. "It has not only helped us drive real and measurable change across these five priority areas, but we have also been able to see the impact at country level - where the majority of our joint projects and programmes are implemented."

She acknowledged the importance of the European Commission as FAO's strategic partner and thanked the EU for supporting FAO's work in emergencies and in crises in particular where the Organization is needed to provide emergency agricultural aid to support, enable or rebuild local food production.

"While the EU is one of FAO's most important donors with substantial voluntary contributions, it is above all a key strategic partner, with significant contributions to our work in data, standard setting, knowledge and innovation, development of guidelines, and joint outreach," said FAO Deputy Director-General Maurizio Martina.

He highlighted the need for sustaining peace as a pre-condition for achieving global food security and keeping sustainable production linked to climate actions.

Participants included Marjeta Jaeger, Deputy Director General, at the European Commission's Directorate-General for International Partnerships (INTPA); Carla Montesi, Director, INTPA; and Alexandra Valkenburg, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the EU to FAO.

FAO-EU collaboration

The EU's contributions to FAO's work in 2023 totaled $230 million, compared to $190 million in 2022. At present, FAO is handling 179 EU-supported projects around the world.

For example, the largest grant-funded project by the EU in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific on supporting rural entrepreneurship, investment and trade which started in 2020 has benefited 82 000 households to date.

Last year, FAO received an additional funding from the EU to extend and scale up the Sustainable Wildlife Management (SWM) Programme implemented in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries to reduce unsustainable wildlife hunting, conserve wildlife, and strengthen people's livelihoods and food security.

Another important engagement is the ongoing dialogue with PRIMA Foundation with whom FAO is engaging to foster joint research and innovation approaches to improve water management, sustainable agriculture or urbanization in the mediterranean region.

The collaboration with the European Investment Bank signed in June last year aims to support rural financial intermediation programmes, climate resilience and value chain projects in Ethiopia, Liberia and Senegal.

The TERRA initiative, a partnership between FAO, the EU and the Italian National Development Bank CDP offers a mix of financing, credit guarantees and technical assistance to African financial institutions supporting value chain development and improves regional food security.

EU-FAO Strategic Dialogue

The EU-FAO Strategic Dialogue is a periodic and forward-looking exercise that aims to readjust and recalibrate EU-FAO joint priorities for the short- and medium-term and strengthen the capacity to bring timely, coherent, and effective responses to global challenges and policy developments within both partners.

This monitoring meeting provided an opportunity to review the progress made from the previous Strategic Dialogue in 2021 and identify a pathway for showcasing impact through the EU-FAO partnership.

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