ASEAN, East Asia vow to step up efforts to end hunger in the region

In a 15-point statement, the leaders commit to a 'strong determination to enhance cooperation in food security by encouraging countries in the region to take effective measures'

Aika Rey

1:40:55pm November 14, 2017

1:46:18pm November 14, 2017

ASEAN PLUS THREE. The leaders of the ASEAN Plus Three, which includes ASEAN member-states, People's Republic of China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea, pose for a photo during the 20th APT Commemorative Summit. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

ASEAN PLUS THREE. The leaders of the ASEAN Plus Three, which includes ASEAN member-states, People's Republic of China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea, pose for a photo during the 20th APT Commemorative Summit. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Asia is committed to step up its fight against hunger.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and East Asia countries agreed to strengthen cooperation in food security on Tuesday, November 14.

The ASEAN Plus Three (APT), which includes the ASEAN member-states, the People's Republic of China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea, met on Tuesday to discuss the Manila Declaration on the 20th Anniversary of APT Cooperation and the APT Leaders' Statement on Food Security Cooperation.

In their 15-point statement, the leaders committed to a "strong determination to enhance cooperation in food security by encouraging countries in the region to take effective measures." (READ: Toward an effective ASEAN strategy against hunger)

In a nutshell, the APT leaders agreed on the following:

Support policies and actions towards ending hunger and achieving food security within the region

Encourage regular policy dialogues among ASEAN member-states and Plus Three countries

Increase private sector participation in policy discussions and foster an environment for public-private-partnerships

Promote exchange of information and experiences to improve an agricultural investment environment

Enhance competitiveness for farmers, small-scale producers, micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and those engaged in agribusinesses

Commitments

During the 21st ASEAN Summit in Cambodia in 2012, the ASEAN declared that food security is a state which "remains a major challenge for ASEAN and the world as a whole, at a time of high commodity prices and economic uncertainty."

According to a 2017 report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 60 million people in Southeast Asia remain undernourished despite vast improvements in gross domestic product and rising agricultural productivity.

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 of the United Nations hopes to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.

The APT countries committed to "strengthen efforts to implement the commitments" under SDG 2. To achieve this, the leaders are looking at enhancing the engagement through the ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry Plus Three meetings.

They also support the implementation of the ASEAN Integated Food Security Framework and the strategic plan of action from 2015 to 2020 in the region.

Recognizing the adverse impact of climate change in food security, they also committed to strengthen coordination between countries and to support policies that improve comprehensive grain production capacity within the region. (INFOGRAPHIC: How climate change harms the ASEAN food basket)

Noting the importance of regular policy dialogues, the APT leaders said they will continue to convene the APT Food Security Cooperation Strategic Roundtable Conference to enhance information exchange. They are looking at the possible establishment of an information sharing system for partner countries.

The leaders are also looking at promoting food conservation and waste reduction to achieve food security. – Rappler.com