Monday, May 29, 2023 | 07:54 am

APEC Uses Technology, Data, and Science to Address Food Security

APEC Uses Technology, Data, and Science to Address Food Security

APEC members are intensifying efforts to ensure food security for people in the region and to address global climate change by drawing on sustainable productivity growth, innovation, and science-based and risk-centered policies, including the role of climate-smart agriculture.

“Climate change affects every aspect of the agrifood system,” said Allison Thomas, Chair of the APEC Policy Partnership on Food Security as officials meet in Palm Springs, California, this week.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain disruptions have further exacerbated an already fragile food economy,” Thomas explained. “Adding to that, the current global conflict further hampers food distribution and production throughout the world.”

“We have this perfect storm of issues that have forced us to convene at this time and under these circumstances,” she said. “We, as a community, must come together to address and discuss the criticality of food security throughout our region.”

The United States hosted APEC in 2011 and established the Policy Partnership on Food Security to tackle challenges such as agricultural productivity constraints, the adverse impact of climate change and global warming, as well as a growing global population, and volatile food prices.

More than a decade later, the Asia-Pacific region continues to face similar challenges, though with greater urgency.

A recent report by United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization highlighted that around 2.3 billion people lacked access to adequate food in 2021. That’s almost 30 percent of the world’s population. “Severe food insecurity increased globally and, in every region,” wrote the report.

In response to this, the United States, as the host of APEC 2023, is proposing the development of a common set of principles that can aid member economies in developing resilient agri-food systems and guide regional cooperation in a bid to drive regional conversations about sustainable development, economic security, environmental commitments and trade through the agricultural and food lens as APEC collectively moves towards enhancing regional food security.

Agriculture and food ministers last year endorsed an Implementation Plan of the Food Security Roadmap Towards 2030 to navigate and coordinate actions, projects, and activities to achieve food security in the region.

This year, members are discussing specific actions to implement the Food Security Roadmap Towards 2030 which covers six focus areas: digitalization and innovation; productivity; inclusivity; sustainability; public-private partnerships; and SMART goals.

“Our goal is simple and complex at the same time; we must ensure that people have enough food to eat, that the environment and the planet are safe, and that farmers can stay in business,” Thomas explained.

“We have to focus on data-driven and science-based policy decisions. We have to focus on leveraging innovation and science, technology and new technology to afford our farmers, fishers, foresters, and our producers the tools that they need to be productive, resilient, and effective.”

“I would urge us to work together in a spirit of cooperation and collaboration to hold meaningful discussions and take actions that will positively impact our goal to achieve food security.”

The Food Security Ministerial Meeting will be held in Seattle and is scheduled to take place in August.