Wednesday, 21 April 2010 8:33 PM

Food Security in Pacific Urgent and Enormous

Press Release - 21 April 2010 - Port Vila, Vanuatu - The challenge of food security in the Pacific region is not only urgent but enormous and the region must work together to develop practical and realistic solutions.

In his remarks at the opening of the Pacific Food Security Summit which started in Port Vila, Vanuatu today, Deputy Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Mr Feleti Teo said Forum Leaders acknowledged the importance of food security as an emerging development issue, an issue which poses challenges for the future well being of people across the region.

"They also called on all countries to maintain open markets and, where possible, to increase the production and supply of healthy food. They further committed their governments to immediate action to address food security issues, not only nationally, but where possible, regionally through a range of measures across key sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, trance and transport," said Mr Teo.

Mr Teo also observed that the vulnerability of the Pacific region to increases in world food prices in the past several years, climate change and the increasing frequency and intensity of natural disasters continue to compromise the region's agriculture and marine systems, making it difficult to sustain local food production.

"So the challenge of food security in the Pacific region is not only urgent but enormous. It challenges all of us present here this week to work together, and with each other to develop a practical and realistic Framework for Actions on Food Security," Mr Teo told the 170 delegates representing governments in the region, regional organisations, UN agencies and civil society, and from the food industry .

Forum Secretariat Deputy Secretary General Teo described the proposed Framework for Actions on Food Security which is being discussed at the three-day Summit is premised on a multi-sectoral approach.

He said the Pacific region is one area in the world where regional responses to development challenges have had a reasonable high level of success.

"Effective pooling of resources and regionally coordinate initiatives, such as those under the Pacific Plan and the Cairns Compact for strengthening development coordination, are imperative as they can add value and provide greater benefits to our fragile food systems," said Mr Teo.

He said a food secure Pacific will go a long way to achieving part of the vision of the Forum Leaders affirmed in the Pacific Plan that "the Pacific region can, should and will be a region of peace, harmony, security and economic prosperity, so that all of its people can lead free and worthwhile lives".

The Pacific Food Security Summit is convened by the Government of Vanuatu, in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Global Health Institute (Sydney West Area Health Service), Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).