Finland becomes member of FAO Council

Jari Leppä

ROME - Finnish Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Jari Leppä participated in the 40th FAO Conference's session in Rome, which begun on July 3 and ends July 8. The central theme of the Conference is the link between climate change and agriculture.

 "Membership in the FAO Council is a tremendous opportunity to highlight themes important to Finland and our country's expertise in an international forum. We will also have the opportunity to influence the work of the FAO. I would especially like to emphasise that achieving food security will require the strengthening of entrepreneurship in rural areas all over the world," Minister Leppä stated.

 During the Conference, Finland organised a side event with its partners on the topic of global health security. The purpose of the event was a reminder that the FAO and the agriculture sector play an important role in the comprehensive provision of health security, i.e. in the One Health concept. Engaging in national, regional and global cooperation is essential, if we wish to tackle cross-border health threats. To support country assessment processes and building country capacities for health security, a multi‐stakeholder JEE Alliance (Alliance for Country Assessments for Global Health Security and IHR Implementation) was formed on May 22 2016 in Geneva, Switzerland. The main purpose of the Alliance is to serve as a platform for sharing information about the assessments, as well as for the exchange of views and experiences among partners. It aims to facilitate engagement between countries and other relevant organisations and stakeholders involved in building health security across different sectors implementing the One Health approach. This is done through inter alia providing a forum for taking stock of the good experiences at the country level and maintaining them in view of the ensuing country planning processes.

 In a short period of time, nearly 60 countries, international organisations, NGOs, academic and research institutions, and a network representing the private sector from different sectors and regions in the world have joined the JEE Alliance. There is currently a unique momentum to  strengthen commitment and mobilise resources for sustainable and systematic country capacity building ‐ and One Health and FAO must remain at the core of this process.

 As a member of the FAO Council, Finland will represent all the Nordic countries for the next three years, placing an emphasis on information and standardisation work, risk tolerance as well as sustainable management and use of natural resources. Important themes include sustainable food systems and the circular economy. Additionally, Finland has proposed that 2020 be named the International Year of Plant Health. The proposal has received strong support from numerous countries. The UN General Conference will make a final decision on this matter.

 Jari Leppä also met José Graziano da Silva, the Director-General of FAO; the topics raised by Minister Leppä included the work done in the Nordic countries to combat antimicrobial resistance and Finland’s initiative concerning the International Year of Plant Health in 2020.

 “Every year almost 30 per cent of the global yield is lost because of pests and plant diseases. New plant health risks associated with climate change will lead to even greater losses. To improve the plant health situation all over the world, I hope that as many countries as possible will make the commitment to support the International Year of Plant Health 2020”, he stated.

FAO building, Rome