— FAO in New York (@FAONewYork) February 1, 2022
It also highlighted the pressing need to fortify their resilience to climate change, natural disasters and other external shocks, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
Making SIDS a priority
In his opening remarks, Mr. Torero Cullen said that this was why the agency has made “a concerted decision to prioritize activities for these countries and are working closely with SIDS networks and constituencies, to implement them”.
He explained that FAO is supporting SIDS “to build back better and achieve better production, better nutrition, better environment and a better life”.
Adding that these are the basis of the UN agency’s new strategic framework “to ensure more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agri-food systems, thereby combating hunger, malnutrition, poverty and inequality”.
Robust food systems
With around 65 million inhabitants, SIDS account for only one per cent of carbon dioxide emissions, and yet they are most vulnerable to the existential threat posed by the impacts of climate change.
While fisheries, tourism and agriculture contribute significantly to their economies, the vulnerability of these sectors raises challenges for them to produce sufficient food to meet the needs of their populations.
“Climate change and the pandemic have made clear the need for SIDS to develop resilient and local food systems”, said Maldivian Ambassador and climate advocate, Thilmeeza Hussain.
Reliance on imports
SIDS in the Caribbean, the Pacific, and many small islands in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean – together with the South China Sea – depend on food imports.