APEC ministers commit to protecting food systems, launch food security roadmap

(Xinhua) 10:26, August 20, 2021

WELLINGTON, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) -- Agriculture and food ministers from 21 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) on Thursday 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 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 adopted the APEC Food Security Roadmap Towards 2030 at their annual APEC Ministerial Meeting on Food Security chaired by New Zealand Minister of Agriculture Damien O'Connor on Thursday.

The roadmap details goals and key action areas where APEC is well placed to help ensure people 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," O'Connor said in his opening remarks.

The roadmap, aligned with New Zealand's APEC 2021 priorities as well as the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040, focuses on digitalization and innovation, productivity, inclusivity and sustainability.

"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," said 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 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 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. They encouraged deeper collaboration between policymakers and the private sector to ensure an innovative and 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," O'Connor said. 

(Web editor: Xia Peiyao, Liang Jun)


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