The Food Secure Arab World Conference ended on Tuesday, February 7 after two days of stimulating presentations, discussion, and analysis. The conference drew more than 200 participants from over 24 countries, including 14 Arab states. The wide variety of participants’ backgrounds reflected the multi-dimensionality of food, nutrition, and water security in the Arab region. Economists, nutritionists, agriculturalists, development practitioners, students, and government officials, among others, all contributed to a lively and successful two-day event. The conference proceedings were covered widely in local, national, and international news, in both Arabic and English.
The conference concluded with recommendations geared toward national and regional policymakers, researchers, and development practitioners, a call for more effective policy implementation, and a regional knowledge platform; a strategic combination of international, regional and country level food, nutrition and water security approaches; and engaging regional and international partners to manage Arab political and social transformations, foster job-creating growth and leverage health, nutrition, education and agriculture for improved food security in the Arab region.
In addition to the summary of main conclusions, all PowerPoint presentations and video coverage of the conference plenary sessions, as well as a list of participants are now available here on the FSAW conference website. Video coverage of all remaining sessions and presentations, in both English and Arabic, will be available by March 1st.
The results of this session emphasize the importance of conducting research on all research areas included in the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets (CRP2) in the Arab Countries. Based on the participants’ inputs, crucial importance should be given especially to research on production and technology policies, policy processes and social protection policies in this region.
Click here to browse the detailed results: weights assigned by participants to the program objectives, scores assigned by participants to the different research areas, as well as an overview of the background of participants as provided by the digivoting responses.
These results will be used by the Program Management Committee when determining priorities and funding allocation for the region. More broadly, they can also be useful for prioritization of other research programs.
We are also grateful for the feedback we received on the voting process, which will be used for the other regional priority-setting events conducted by the CGIAR Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets.
Visit our Research Priority-Setting Session page for more information and background on CRP 2 and the session.
In the final session of the “Food Secure Arab World: A Roadmap for Policy & Research” conference, Dr.Mark Rosegrant, Consortium Research Program 2 (CRP2) Interim Director, IFPRI, led a stimulating priority setting session. He introduced CRP2 and stated its strategic goal as “identifying and promoting implementation of policies, institutions, and markets to improve food security and incomes of the rural poor on a sustainable basis” through inclusive partnerships designed to achieve impact.
He described CRP2 as comprehensive and focused and gave a detailed overview of its three major interlinked themes and corresponding subthemes.
He noted that the establishment of CRP2 is quite timely as global food security challenges are large and include rising energy prices, natural resource constraints, gender inequality, and underinvestment in agriculture and rural development amongst others.
Following Dr. Rosegrant, Pascale Sabbagh introduced the priority setting process and stated its aim as helping to guide CRP2 funding allocations and implementation so that it reflects regional priorities. Using interactive devices, the process got underway with participants assigning weights to four predetermined objectives, followed by engaging group discussions and subsequent voting on the contribution of subthemes to achieving CRP2's objectives.
It was a productive, thought provoking conclusion to an insightful conference.
In a panel session on “Setting Food Security Policy Priorities,” moderated by Paul Dorosh, five panelists addressed actions needed. Their summary comments are as follows:
Sherine Ghoneim underscored the necessity of understanding knowledge barriers and addressing local requirements to improve the uptake of research.
Hoonae Kim explained the measures that need to be taken to account for higher population expectations: in the short term, the implementation of policies to address safety net issues; in the medium term, the development of rural livelihoods and the creation of job opportunities; and in the long term, an increase in resiliency via a more robust agriculture system.
Ziad Abdel Samad emphasized the need to adopt a new development paradigm that focuses on the quality, distribution, and productive sectors of growth.
Moujahed Achouri spoke of the need for developing small farmer organizations and for providing a way for dialogue with farmers. He also stated that food security should be viewed as a multi-sectoral issue, and not one solely focused on production.
Abbas Abouauf advocated the need for secure food for inhabitants, noting that between 2006 and 2010, highlighted events have shown that political will has changed towards agriculture as a sector responsible for food safety and capacity building.
Dr. Joachim von Braun addressed Arab development in a changing world and stated that a particularly serious matter is the Arab world losing out, in recent years, on foreign direct investments. He cited employment and regional fiscal policy as two fundamental challenges, as they determine food security through macro linkages. Dr. von Braun remarked that for achieving political progress it is essential to build trust between citizens and states; develop human capacity to foster labor productivity; and build social security institutions. He concluded that the political change process can revitalize Arab unity and encouraged the Arab world to learn from the mistakes and successes during transformations of other regions, such as Latin America and Eastern Europe.
Dr. Heba Handoussa presented on the challenges and opportunities of transition. She spoke specifically of Egypt and discussed several factors. She noted primarily that youth are the best candidates to act as agents of change. In addition, she noted the following: i) that there needs to be more involvement at the community level for introducing channels of participation; ii) that merit based human resource management needs to resurge; and iii) that job creation needs to be accelerated.
Dr. Nadim Khouri spoke on new perspectives for Arab Food Security, where he emphasized that the Arab world is not starting from scratch despite there being a lot of work yet to be done. He noted that the Arab region is the least advanced in achieving the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of ending poverty and hunger. He juxtaposed the fact that only 18% of the world’s wheat is exported with the reality that Arab countries import more than 50% of their grain requirements and that this dependency is predicted to increase. He concluded that there will likely be a long transition to democracy and that it is necessary to build on existing experiences.
In this morning’s opening remarks, Dr. Nadim Khouri, Deputy Executive Secretary UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) stated that the objective of this conference is to advance the dialogue between policy makers and researchers so that a difference can be made on the ground. Following him, Dr. Fawzi Al Sultan, Board of Trustees at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), highlighted that job creation must be a high development priority for the Arab region and that this conference is the beginning of IFPRI's long term commitment to the region.
Dr. Shenggen Fan, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) Director General stated, "Almost 40 million people in the Arab region are undernourished. We need a comprehensive strategy to tackle the regional food security issues." He went on to note that smallholder agriculture has a strong role to play in enhancing food security and that carefully designed trade policies would make significant contributions to food and nutrition security. He added, “Food production is essential but not sufficient” concluding that this conference is an opportunity to come together, take stock, and decide what actions need to be taken.
(تعليقات: د. نديم خوري، نائب الأمين التنفيذي (الاسكوا
Video remarks by Shenggen Fan, Director General, International Food Policy Research Institute, IFPRI