Photo: Claudia Gardner
Assistant Director General for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations Latin America and the Caribbean region, Dr. Julio Berdegué, says member states should provide a clear political mandate to guide the organisation’s activities over the next biennium.
He notes that the FAO has been focusing on improving the quality of its agreements with the Governments, in order that that the organisation’s work is “much more closely following the needs that are established by the Governments.”
Dr. Berdegué was speaking at the FAO’s 35th Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), hosted by the Government in Montego Bay.
“I do hope that the Ministers will give us a very clear mandate to focus our work on certain critical issues. We need a political mandate in order to really focus our energy in getting results which have large-scale impacts. That means much more intelligent targeting, focusing of our work on those very specific issues,” Dr. Berdegué said.
“We are asking the Ministers and we are asking the member countries to give us a sharper agenda, but with perhaps fewer issues that we can concentrate our resources and capacities and with them, try to make a difference,” he added.
The FAO’s Regional Conference for the LAC is an official biennial forum where Ministers of Agriculture and high-level officials of member nations meet to discuss challenges and priority matters related to food and agriculture as a means of ensuring the promotion of regional coherence on global policies and political issues.
Throughout the week, the sessions will be chaired by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Donovan Stanberry, and Minister Karl Samuda.
Dr. Berdegué said the conference provides an opportunity for the Governments of member states to discuss solutions to assist some countries in the region, which had regressed in the area of reduction of hunger and malnutrition.
“We need to reverse these numbers; we have done it before. We did very well in the past 20 years in terms of reducing hunger and malnutrition in the region and in most countries individually. We just need to know why this is happening and what are the steps that we need to take, to come back on track,” he said.
The key agenda items at the four-day conference are: eradicating hunger, overweight and obesity; ending rural poverty; promoting climate resilience; and sustainable agriculture.
Regional conferences are geared at ensuring the effectiveness of the work of the FAO, as well as the definition of its priority areas of work for the next two years. In addition to Ministers of Agriculture, representatives of regional, intra-regional, international organisations, civil society and the private sector are also hosted as Observers to the sessions.