IOFS promotes inter-regional dialogue of south-south cooperation in the framework of Food Systems Summit 2021

IOFS promotes inter-regional dialogue of south-south cooperation in the framework of Food Systems Summit 2021
14 July 2021

The Islamic Organization for Food Security in coordination with the Secretariat of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and United Nations Food Systems Summit (UN FSS) organized the International Conference titled “Best practices for building Sustainable Food Systems in the OIC region” on 14 July 2021 in an online-format. The event was conducted in the framework of UN World Food Systems Summit 2021 as an Inter-Regional Dialogue of South-South cooperation.

The Conference was started with the quotation of Holy Quran and opened by welcoming remarks of the OIC Assistant Secretary General for Economic Affairs H.E. Dr. Ahmad Sengendo, the Deputy Special Envoy of UN Secretary General on Food Systems Summit H.E. Mr. Martin Frick, Ministers from OIC Member States and the Director General of IOFS H.E. Mr. Yerlan Baidaulet.

H.E. Dr. Ahmad Sengendo noted that agriculture and rural development represents the dominant sector in the socio-economic Agenda of the OIC, and emphasized on the necessity of international collaboration and exchange of practices among national governments of member states for boosting agriculture and ensuring food security.

H.E. Mr. Martin Frick highlighted that, as of now, 41 countries of OIC have started or already done their National Food System Dialogues, horizontally with all of the government authorities, and, vertically with all of the society, by looking into the burning questions of food systems, but also into options and opportunities in turning the crisis around.

H.E. Mr. Shadhan Chandra Majumder, Minister of Food of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, said: “The Government of Bangladesh has taken various initiatives to make the progress toward achieving sustainable food system by conducting multiple stages of Member States and Independent Food System Dialogues. I hope that the outcomes of this Inter-Regional Dialogue would give the impetus for all member states to foster sustainable food system”.

H.E. Mrs. Mariam Al Mheiri, the Minister of State for Food and Water Security of the United Arab Emirates, said: “Partnerships are bread and butter for ensuring food security, and collaboration is vital among all stakeholders, including government, NGOs and private sector. Therefore, the IOFS represents the ideal platform for discussing how we can take down barriers for free movement of foods and enhance mutual food security capacity that will help to protect against future crises”.

H.E. Mrs. Amie Fabureh, the Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of The Gambia, said: “It is important that food systems address problems of availability and accessibility of food, and adequate nutrition. Therefore, I welcome the initiative of Islamic Organization for Food Security of organization of this important Conference where countries would share their experience of building their food systems”.

H.E. Mr. Syed Fakhar Imam, the Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, said: “Food security is the basis of secure society in the world. Currently, OIC countries face enormous challenges of ensuring national food security. However, despite these issues, the world is full of knowledge and research by completely revolutionizing the productivity of crops, livestock, fisheries and forest. Therefore, the initiative of conducting this Conference is well-timed for exchange of knowledge and experience”.

H.E. Zulfikar Mustapha, Minister of Agriculture of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, said: “Complexity of food systems requires comprehensive and coordinated approach from governments and other stakeholders. In fact, solutions to food systems can be made through exchange of experience. Therefore, Guyana is pleased to join this International Conference, this knowledge sharing platform, that would bring awareness of the potential and adoption of efficient and effective best practices toward transformation of food system”.

H.E. Mr. Ziyozoda Sulaymon Rizoi, Minister of Agriculture of the Republic Tajikistan, said: “It is becoming increasingly clear that if urgent action is not taken, the global food emergency could have long-term consequences for our future generations. Therefore, we reiterate the importance of joining efforts at the international and regional levels to prevent, respond and eliminate the consequences of food shortages and ensure food security in our countries”.

H.E. Mr. Yerlan A. Baidaulet, the Director-General of IOFS, spoke: “IOFS fully supports the notions of Global, Regional and National Food Systems Dialogues as they all are vital in advancing food security systems worldwide. We share the vision of the Summit, which is called “People’s Summit” and is dedicated to Sustainable Solutions that will require actions to make the world's food systems more advanced and resilient to global challenges.”

The event, which gathered more than 200 participants, including government officials and representatives of international and regional organizations, research entities, academia, private sector and civil society, from 51 member states and more than 20 international organizations, provided a great platform to exchange views and share best experience in establishing resilient food systems through the four sessions on “Food Security Governance”, “National Food Systems Dialogues”, “Food Supply Chain Management” and “Promotion of Agricultural Development”.

The first session on governance issues addressed the development of coherent policy and legal frameworks and coordination of intra- and inter-governmental actions, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. Next, the member states shared their experience of arranging National Dialogues and discussed the organizational processes and involvement of a wide variety of stakeholders. The maintenance of stable food supply chains and food imports; manufacturing, retail and logistics; technology trends in food supply chains, including digitalization of distribution and procurement systems were covered in the third session. Finally, yet importantly, the event focused on the governmental support of farmer livelihoods and employment of smart technology in agriculture.

As a result of the meeting, the experience and knowledge presented formed the foundation of the policy recommendations on building Sustainable Food Systems that are now to be shared with the governments of the OIC member states and international partners. Along with this, the IOFS Secretariat will closely work with speakers and presenters to develop the Conference proceedings. It is the earnest hope that the shared knowledge and experience within the event will help governments to build the pathways for sustainable food systems and make them more advanced and resilient to global challenges.

In the closing remarks, the Director-General of IOFS His Excellency Mr. Yerlan A. Baidaulet said: “In general, the region of OIC is very diverse, when it comes to GDP level, government expenditures, natural resources and climate conditions, human capacity, agricultural potential and other conditions. Therefore, there is no “one size fits all” solution. Instead, solutions should be tailor made and geared towards the special needs and peculiar circumstances of each country”.