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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

08 November 2021


H.E. Mr. Veng Sakhon, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Cambodia,

Mr. Jong-Jin Kim, Assistant Director-General and FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific,

Distinguished government officials of ASEAN countries and the ASEAN secretariat, partners and stakeholders from the Agroecology and Safe Food System Transition (ASSET) project networks,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am pleased to welcome you to the virtual workshop on Agroecology and Safe Food Systems Transitions for green, inclusive and resilient recovery in the ASEAN region.

The report of the UN Secretary-General, Our Common Agenda, calls for a transformation of food systems.

Risks of large-scale food insecurity can be averted by aligning health, climate equity and the Sustainable Development Goals towards food systems that are sustainable, nutritious and equitable at all levels.

Promoting a transition to agroecology must be at the nexus of such a transformation, as it addresses biodiversity, climate, pollution and waste equally.

Food production and natural resource management is the direct concern of 50 per cent of the ASEAN region’s people who live in rural areas. The agricultural sector contributes some 15 percent of GDP to the ASEAN region’s economy.

Agroecology transition can play an important role in COVID-19 recovery leading to a greener, inclusive and more resilient ASEAN region. 

This workshop underlines that agroecology is a paradigm shift to boost agro-biodiversity, increase the ability of soils to retain carbon, and strengthen resilience in the face of pests, natural disasters and disease, and increase access to healthy diets.

An agroecology paradigm empowers small farmers, helping to mitigate production risk, provide access to appropriate inputs at lower cost, and harness scientific, indigenous and traditional knowledge.

Any paradigm shift needs stakeholder alignment and empowerment but also needs close review and multilateral support.

ESCAP has played an important role in convening stakeholders around food systems.

We convened regional consultations for the food systems dialogue as well as four independent dialogues with a focus on China and Central Asian countries.

We will continue to work with the UN system and pay particular attention to supporting follow-up and review on food system transition through the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development.

We are also collaborating with the ASEAN Secretariat to establish the ASEAN Resource Panel to promote sustainability and circularity in resource use.

ESCAP’s work on resource use shows that biomass is almost half of all resource use of the ASEAN region. The Framework for Circular Economy for the ASEAN Economic Community has identified the agricultural sector as a possible priority sector for early transition, especially in relation to waste reduction and resource efficiency.

ESCAP’s Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization (CSAM) is launching an initiative on sustainable management of crop residues as part of the response to better managing waste and air quality concerns.

The ASSET project harnesses leading institutions to strengthen knowledge and networking, build capacity, support local innovation processes in farming systems and value chains, and scale out agroecology transitions at the territorial level.

We expect the workshop to result in useful recommendations to strengthen policy processes from local to national to ASEAN levels.

We also expect increased stakeholder exchange and networking and enhanced climate action.

Recommendations will also target more impactful guidelines for sustainable agriculture.

Thank you for your kind attention. I wish you a fruitful workshop.

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