From September 26-27, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) held its Fourth Ministerial Meeting on Food Security in Piura, Peru. Participants included Ministers and Heads of Delegation from all 21 APEC economies, as well as representatives from FAO, IFPRI, and the International Potato Center (CIP).
The meeting centered on the role of food security in long-term, quality growth in the region, as well as on regional trends impacting food security, including rapid urbanization, a changing food system, continuing under-development of rural areas, and the effects of climate change. The meeting also emphasized the role that APEC economies can play in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of global poverty eradication and food security by 2030.
In their Declaration on APEC Food Security, the APEC ministers emphasized several important ways in which the group can address the challenges faced by the region. These include enhancing and connecting local and regional food market; integrating smallholder farmers and fishers, as well as micro-enterprises and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), into agri-food value chains; identifying infrastructure gaps and inefficient trade practices that impede income-generating activities; improving agricultural productivity through innovative technology use; and building the capacity of women, youth, and other vulnerable groups to more successfully engage in the agri-food system.
One important discussion centered on trade, both within the region and internationally. According to the Declaration on APEC Food Security, APEC’s primary mission includes promoting free trade and investment, as well as economic growth, economic integration, and technical cooperation among its members. However, the ministers pointed out that while many APEC economies have seen trade liberalization take place in recent years, the agricultural sector still faces significant trade barriers (including non-tariff measures). The Declaration calls for member economies to address these barriers, as well as to work together to ensure consistent food safety and quality standards are met without posing an undue burden on trade.
Members were also encouraged to focus on the sustainable use of natural resources and the conservation of biodiversity in the region. This conversation focused heavily on the challenge that climate change poses for agricultural growth, fisheries production, and food security in the region. Members committed to enhancing their cooperation on climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies through the Framework for Multi-Year APEC Program on Food Security and Climate Change, a multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder program that will explore new and innovative approaches to promote sustainable agriculture in the region.
The meeting also discussed the region’s rapid urbanization rate and the need for improved rural-urban development strategies. The draft Strategic Framework on Rural-Urban Development to Strengthen Food Security and Quality Growth focuses on linking rural and peri-urban communities to urban centers, as well as on enhancing opportunities for women, youth, and minority groups, particularly in rural areas. Strategies will include creating an enabling policy and regulatory environment that will empower smallholders and SMEs in the agri-food system and encouraging public-private partnerships to better integrate rural populations into local, regional, and global food value chains. These strategies will include a focus on the use of ICTs in agriculture.
By: Sara Gustafson, IFPRI