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Ministers Commit to Protect Food Systems, Launch Food Security Roadmap


19 August 2021

Agriculture and food ministers from the 21 APEC member economies reaffirmed their commitment to an open, transparent, productive, sustainable and resilient APEC food system by launching a new 10-year food security roadmap.

Nearly 2.37 billion people lacked access to adequate food in 2020, a rise of 320 million in just one year, according to a World Bank policy brief. A report by the Global Network Against Food Crises (GNAFC) found that the number of people facing acute food insecurity who need urgent life and livelihood-saving assistance hit a five-year high in 2020.

Against this backdrop, APEC ministers convened at their annual APEC Ministerial Meeting on Food Security on Thursday, chaired by New Zealand Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor, and adopted the APEC Food Security Roadmap Towards 2030.

The roadmap details goals and key action areas where APEC is well placed to help ensure people always have access to sufficient, safe, affordable and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.

“While food security was already a challenge, COVID-19 showed us that there are vulnerabilities in our food systems and in our economies, and that our food systems need improvement—especially to deliver on the APEC 2040 vision of an open, dynamic, peaceful and resilient region,” Minister O’Connor highlighted in his opening remarks.

The roadmap, aligned with New Zealand’s APEC 2021 priorities as well as the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040, incorporates four key areas of focus:

  • Digitalization and innovation: using digital levers to drive food sustainability
  • Productivity: prioritizing systems that are fit for purpose
  • Inclusivity: ensuring that underrepresented groups are set up to thrive
  • Sustainability: tackling climate change and environmental challenges

“Besides our effort to address the challenges of food security, the roadmap also emphasizes efforts in increasing productivity and efficiency, minimizing food waste, mitigating and adapting to climate change as well as reducing costs and facilitating food trade,” added Philip Houlding, Chair of the APEC Policy Partnership on Food Security. The group spearheaded the development of the roadmap and drives public-private sector engagement on all aspects of food security in the region. 

At the virtual meeting, APEC Ministers heard from Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), on closing the digital divide, especially in rural areas, and how this can help address some challenges faced by small-scale food producers. Ministers acknowledged the benefits of digitalization and discussed measures to promote innovation and improve the use of digital technology to ensure food security as the region recovers from COVID-19.

“The pandemic accelerated digital transformation and highlighted the abilities of an innovative digitally enabled economy to better recover and thrive,” said Minister O’Connor. “But effective recovery also requires all elements of government to work together to deliver this transformation and enhance food security in the APEC region.”

Ministers also highlighted the central role of the private sector throughout the food value chain with respect to production and processing, distribution, trade and investment. Ministers encouraged deeper collaboration between policymakers and the private sector to ensure an innovative, refreshed food system to meet the food security challenges of the future.

“Without food security for all our people, we cannot achieve the other goals we have for our economies,” Minister O’Connor concluded.

Read the 6th APEC Ministerial Meeting on Food Security Joint Statement

Read the Annex: APEC Food Security Roadmap 2030

 

- APEC Secretariat