In preparation for the 33rd session of FAO Regional Conference for the Near East (NERC), calling for “Promoting Food Security, Blue Growth and Empowerment of Small-Scale Farmers and Women in NENA Region,” FAO Regional Office for the Near East (RNE), NERC secretariat and FAOR in Lebanon participated in the Regional Consultation for Civil Society Organizations and NGOs, held from 7 to 9 April, 2016 in Beirut, Lebanon. The consultation that is was organized by a steering committee of CSOs’ representatives from the NENA region, mainly focused on FAO priority activities and the CSOs input in relation to the items of the regional conference, its priorities and outputs.
In his opening remarks, FAO Representative in Lebanon Dr. Maurice Saade stressed that FAO recognizes the critical role that CSOs play in the fight against hunger, given their technical expertise, their proximity to, and representation of the hungry and poor, and their increasing presence in the field. “We must work and the national and regional levels, profit from your experience and expertise, and associate you from the beginning in the development of policies and programmes of activity”, Saade said.
Green Line, a Lebanese NGO advocating for environmental conservation and sustainable management of natural resources, was the host of the event in Beirut and its Chairman Dr. Ali Darwish stressed in his welcome note on the importance of such a consultative events whereby the Civil Society and stakeholders’ representatives of the region meet to discuss issues pertaining to the inclusiveness of their role in ensuring food security and eradicating poverty. Darwish emphasized on the importance of governance of land and water resources as a major path toward achieving food security and sovereignty leading to combating poverty
The Report of this Consultation was presented by the Consultation`s Rapporteur for consideration and adoption by the Conference. Further online discussions with a broader platform of CSOs and stakeholder organisations will be conducted to come up with the final statements that will be presented in the 33rd NERC by three representatives that were elected in an open process by the conference participants.
The FAO Regional Conference for the Near East (NERC), like all FAO Regional Conferences, meets once every two years to discuss priority issues and set the agenda for agriculture and rural development in the region. The upcoming event will be the thirty-third session of NERC (NERC33) and will be held in Rome, Italy, from 9 to 13 May, 2016. Issues tabled for discussion at NERC33 were elaborated in close consultation with the Near East Group of Permanent Representatives to FAO, who are based in Rome, and with the Chair of NERC, H.E. the Minister of Agriculture of Lebanon Mr. Akram Chehayeb. These include topics like the contribution of livestock to food security in the Near East and North Africa (NENA), the implementation of the Blue Growth Initiative in the region, and the empowerment of small-scale farmers and women in NENA.
Expressing satisfaction with FAO’s coordination with the region’s civil society, Habitat International Coalition’s Joseph Schechlaobserved that “these meetings marked a milestone toward closer alignment of civil priorities with FAO’s priorities in the region at a strategic juncture, in which global processes and local efforts combine to confront and remedy many of the challenges to local producers and consumers in realizing food security and nutrition for all in our region.”
In Beirut, both CSO participants and FAO representatives committed to closer collaboration towards achieving those common objectives and goals in the coming biennium.
See also: Toward FAO’s Near East/North Africa Regional Conference