A new study on prospects for enhancing food security in the Arab region was launched today at the UN House in Beirut, providing projections on how the food and agriculture situation could look in 2030 based on current trends.
The joint-report, published by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), points to a “slightly brighter future” for local production, though the region will continue to depend heavily on food imports to meet its needs.
“The present report provides a deep and comprehensive review of the prevailing food and agriculture situation of the Arab region together with alternative outcomes for the future,” said ESCWA Executive Secretary Mohamed Alhakim and FAO Director General Jose Graziano da Silva, in the foreword of the publication.
“Our two organizations are tirelessly working to support our respective members in achieving greater food security by addressing rising challenges, implementing innovative strategies and programmes and adopting sound policies for the sustainable management of the region’s natural resources,” they added.
The report, entitled “Arab Horizon 2030: Prospects for Enhancing Food Security in the Arab Region” hopes to inform the debate regarding the status of food security in Arab countries and policy options for enhancing food security in the future.
According to the UN, food security can be defined as “a situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”
In the Arab region, 16 countries have moderate to high food insecurity. By 2025, the region will need to secure food for 450 million people while adapting to and overcoming climate related challenges. Meanwhile, the Arab population—which makes up only 5 per cent of the world’s population—imports almost 25 to 30 per cent of all major food items listed on world markets.
“Despite potential increases in domestic production, none of the Arab countries are likely to achieve food self-sufficiency, and most are likely to continue to rely on trade for their food needs,” said the Deputy Executive of ESCWA, Khawla Mattar, speaking at the launching ceremony.
“Given the complexity and cross cutting nature of food security, key recommendations from the publication can help countries in the Arab region move forward in their endeavors towards improving food security, in accordance with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” she added.
Representing the regional office of FAO, Mr. Abdessalam OuldAhmed shared remarks in which he highlighted how the report illustrates success stories from the Arab region so countries can learn from each other’s experiences, using them as references “to build a better future for food security.”
The event was also attended by the Lebanese Minister of Agriculture, Ghazi Zuaiter, who underlined that the report offers a comprehensive presentation of issues related to food security and proposes solutions for the future.
“We are hopeful that the impact of the report will be positive,” he said. “We are witnessing the role that ESCWA and FAO play in supporting countries to reach the 2030 Agenda through agricultural development and food security.”
The publication intends to enhance evidence-based policy dialogue on issues of food security and sustainable development in the Arab region not only for decision makers committed to ensuring the continued well-being of the Arab population, but also for the public at large including civil society and the media.
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