APEC environment and agriculture ministers to meet on food security, ‘blue’ economy

QUEZON CITY, Oct. 3 -- Environment and agriculture ministers and officials from 21 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) will meet in Iloilo City from October 4-6 to discuss policies on the conservation of ocean and coastal resources while ensuring food security.

The three-day APEC gathering, dubbed as APEC High-Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and Blue Economy (HLPD-FSBE), themed “Food Security and Blue Economy: Sustainable Food Supply Chains from Resilient Resources for Inclusive Growth,” will be held at the recently inaugurated Iloilo Convention Center.

Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which co-hosts the meeting along with the Department of Agriculture, said the dialogue aims to produce a plan of action that would keep the coastal and marine ecosystems resilient and ensure sustainable food supply chains.

The action plan, he said, will tackle three priority areas: resilient oceans and coastal resources; fish loss reduction, and agribusiness development.

“This meeting would be a venue for partnerships across economies and other sectors to address current and future challenges we face in these priority areas,” Paje said.

“We hope that the member-economies would reach a consensus on the action plan that we proposed so that our efforts on these priority concerns would be more focused, collaborative and concerted,” he added.

The Food Security and Blue Economy Action Plan would be a long-term strategy to address the issue of food security in the region. This will be aligned with the APEC food system and roadmap initiated by the Policy Partnership for Food Security.

According to Paje, the action plan is an important approach to develop and utilize marine resources and ecosystems sustainably to achieve inclusive growth for people living within the region.

Paje and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and APEC Business Advisory Council head Doris Magsaysay-Ho will deliver their welcome messages, to be followed by an opening message from Senate President Franklin M. Drilon.

The first day of the meet will be comprised of three sessions tackling each of the priority areas, with ministers and private sector representatives from the different economies as presenters.

The first session, entitled “Blue Economy towards sustainable food supply chains for food security,” would see discussions on resilient oceans and seas; best practices on the blue economy and fisheries quota management system; innovative fisheries management; sustainable aquaculture development; and efforts to combat illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.

The second session will focus on reducing fish losses for increased fish production. Topics include fish loss assessment and reduction strategies; precision seafood harvesting and fish loss reduction and value-added seafood products for the global market.

Opportunities in agribusiness, as well as capability building programs on food safety will be discussed during the third session, slated in the morning of the second day of the meeting.

The HLPD-FSBE Plan of Action would be presented and discussed before being adopted by the member-economies later in the afternoon.

The dialogue will be one of the activities in preparation for the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting to be held in Manila on November 17-18.

APEC is a multilateral international organization that aims to foster free trade and economic prosperity among its member-economies, namely: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, People’s Republic of China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, the United States of America, and Vietnam. (DENR)

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