The Islands of the Indian Ocean should leverage their diversity to build resilience

José Graziano da Silva Director-General of the FAO

Té / 26 August 2016

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) representing 40 countries from FAO worldwide member countries is a group most affected by climate change. The frequency of climatic disasters limits their ability to respond to natural and anthropogenic environmental risks that make them particularly vulnerable.

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FAO Director-General Jose’ Graziano da Silva - Committee on Forestry COFO23 and 5th World Forest Week (WFW), FAO Headquarters (Green Room). ©FAO/Giuseppe Carotenuto.

These SIDS agricultural sectors are among the most threatened. Natural hazards, including plant and animal health risks such as locust plagues and risks related to climate variability and change are affecting such sectors.

The SIDS also suffer economic risks including rising food prices, socio- political and security including conflict impact on food and nutrition security of the populations of the Indian Ocean islands, especially for small farmers and agricultural producers.

The SIDS are identified in three regional groups: the Caribbean, the Pacific and the AIMS regions (Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean and South China Sea).

The latter group is not made up on a geographical basis and should be able to strengthen its identity through a strategy based on diversity.

Regional Programme for Food Security and Nutrition

Concerning the Indian Ocean islands, the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) is the main regional partner in the formulation and implementation of the FAO World Programme of Action on food security and nutrition in SIDS.

This programme includes five key elements: promoting food safety and healthy eating; sustainable management of natural resources; build resilience to climate change and natural disasters; promote trade and market access; and enhance partnerships and international cooperation.

The implementation of such a programme, calls for the need to support regional groups such as the Indian Ocean islands initiatives.

IOC activated its contribution through the formulation of the Regional Programme for Food Security and Nutrition (PRESAN) prepared with FAO technical support.

The PRESAN document takes into account the recommendations from the Mauritius Strategy for progress in implementing the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of SIDS, the Third International Conference on SIDS Rio + 20, the Samoa Pathways on the interdependence of food and nutrition security, climate change and sustainable development.

Diversity and inclusion

The FAO noted that the reflections and consultations on these matters are intensifying and a Ministerial Conference and public-private dialogue on Climate-smart ocean Economies in Africa would be organized by the World Bank in Mauritius, 1 and 2 September 2016, to review the achievements, challenges and priorities relating to the African coasts, where special focus is given to IOC SIDS.

This follows the topic: ’ The SIDS at the forefront of climate change – What will it take to turn the tide?

The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) support diversity and inclusion. This diversity can be seen in terms of the three pillars of sustainable development.

Ecological diversity relates to existing biodiversity and natural resources whilst the economic diversity is about the dependence of countries on agriculture, forestry and fisheries for some, as well as tourism and trade for other ones.

The social diversity is based on the habits, practices and expertise of people from different origins and cultures.

All this diversity can contribute significantly to strengthening the pillars of food and nutrition security, which are availability, access, stability and utilization.

There is the need for the political will of each country in the region to share and comply with a common vision in the diversity of the respective objectives to be strong.

There is the essence to encourage the involvement of young people for their innovation and women for their entrepreneurial quality, with support from the private sector, to ensure the profitability of investments.

Partner efforts must converge towards a common goal and implemented in compliance and optimization of diversity.

“The time to strengthen and sustain our actions”

FAO is committed to support initiatives of the governments of the Indian Ocean islands, which has the necessary expertise, given the important role that agriculture plays, forestry and fisheries in an effective strategy for economic growth.

Now is the time to strengthen and sustain our actions. There must be increase investment to strengthen economic and environmental resilience of small farmers and agricultural producers in the Indian Ocean islands.

This will be done through the practice of inclusive and sustainable smart adaptation methods in agriculture, livestock and fisheries face to the effects of climate change.

The message for World Food Day, which falls on 16 October 2016 is ’Climate change, food and agriculture, too.’

The concept is the crucial period during which will be celebrated, a few weeks of the upcoming United Nations Conference on Climate Change, COP 22, to be held from 7 to 18 November 2016 in Marrakech, Morocco.

FAO urges countries to include issues related to food and agriculture in their action plans on climate and to invest more in rural development.

José Graziano da Silva, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

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