Dodwell in SOM 2 Meetings at Kazan - Post 8

June 03, 2012


After a week of robust, and sometimes short-tempered debate in the newly-formed Policy Partnership on Food Security, the week’s work ended well with a substantive Ministerial Meeting, and a “Kazan Declaration” that embodies many of ABAC’s concerns and priorities, and will shape policies aimed at future food security for many years to come.

Tony Nowell, Chair of ABAC’s Regional Economic Integration Working Group and a long-time passionate advocate of governments and the private sector working together on food security, was able to report to Food Ministers a substantive menu of tasks that we need to roll up sleeves on straight away. For ABAC, that will mean discussions and decisions from our Sustainable Development Working Group in Ho Chi Minh in a month’s time.

In reporting to Ministers, Tony recounted two PPFS discussions in particular:

  • The audit of food policies in the region provided two important and sobering insights: first, a majority of APEC members are still inclined to protectionism in farm trade. Second, few governments are yet addressing the critically important issues of post-harvest food waste or fisheries and aquaculture – ABAC’s main priority. Lots of educating still needed here.

  • The presentation from PPFS Hong Kong member calling for region-wide collaboration on application of global standards applying to bar codes and RFID identification – as a means of creating more efficient, safer and sustainable value chains. This struck a powerful chord with many officials and provided an example of a practical business-based proposal that offers huge value in food safety and food security to all member economies – improving food supply-chain visibility both in domestic markets and for internationally traded food, enhancing traceability and recall of unsafe foods, reducing costs and driving supply chain efficiency, building consumer confidence in food products, and contributing to strong economic growth. We take these ideas further in Ho Chi Minh in July.

And he identified two priorities to get our teeth into straight away:

  • First, we need to tackle “post harvest food loss– and how to reduce losses along the food chain “from farm to fork”. Maybe ABAC itself needs to champion this.

  • Second, we need to develop our infrastructure – not just infrastructure hardware, but software like logistics and supply chain connectivity.

He noted that this leaves ABAC with several substantive issues to tackle in Ho Chi Minh – in particular since the next PPFS may not be convened until May next year.

  • ABAC needs to agree an ABAC strategy on Food Security, and make sure this gets into our letter to leaders, and is discussed in Vladivostok in September

  • ABAC must also draw on its existing working groups structure to identify and prioritise food security-related initiatives linked with our work. As Chair of ABAC’s Regional Economic Integration Working Group, Tony has already invited Sergey Aleksashenko to write to the ABAC Chair asking for us to do this. .

  • We also need to keep APEC officials’ feet to the fire: those existing APEC Working Groups dedicated to food-related issues need to take up relevant initiatives and take them forward.

  • APEC needs to create small PPFS “task forces”, perhaps championed on a pathfinder basis by a small group of member economies, to drive forward on agreed priority areas like food waste.

Since our SDWG Chair and PPFS Co-Chair Frank Ning was unable to attend the Kazan meetings, perhaps the first priority is a good meaty discussion with Frank and other members concerned with Food Security to shape the SDWG agenda. ABAC3 in Ho Chi Minh has some important work ahead of it.

Tony Nowell and other panellists at Food Security Panel


Tony Nowell at Food Security Panel

* Read Dodwell's other blog posts from Kazan.

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