Preparations for the upcoming follow-up global conference on food security will be high on the agenda of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) regional meeting in Iran later this week.
The 26th FAO Regional Conference for the Near East will open on 9 March in Tehran with a three-day meeting of high-ranking officials and experts from Member States, followed by a ministerial meeting on 12 and 13 March. FAO Director-General Dr. Jacques Diouf is slated to deliver a statement at the ministerial session.
The agenda includes preparation for the "World Food Summit: five years later," which will be held in Rome from 10 to 13 June. The Summit will track progress achieved since the 1996 World Food Summit and consider ways to accelerate the process of eradicating hunger around the world.
According to FAO, current data indicates that the number of undernourished is falling at an average rate of only 6 million each year, far below the rate of 22 million per year needed to reach the World Food Summit goal of reducing the number of hungry people by half by 2015.
Other topics on the regional conference's slate include long-term plans for drought mitigation and management in the Near East, where water scarcity is the most serious challenge to agriculture throughout the region; trade liberalization policies; intra-regional trade and sustainable agricultural development.
Participants are also expected to examine the problem of low forest cover, activities related to the observance of the International Year of Mountains, and other issues such as biodiversity for agriculture, forestry and fisheries in the Near East region.