Beirut, 7 February 2012 (UN Information Service) – Participants in an international conference on Arab food security today concluded two days of meetings with a call to highlight the need to focus on supporting job-creating growth for the poor in countries with household-level food insecurity, and on encouraging exports to finance food imports and agriculture in countries with macro-level food insecurity.
Since food insecurity was a factor behind the Arab awakening, a conference entitled “A Food Secure Arab World: A Roadmap for Policy and Research” was jointly organized by ESCWA and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) at the UN House in Beirut on 6-7 February.
The conferees called for improving trade and market integration by unleashing the power of small businesses and improving access to financing. These were among recommendations made at the conclusion of the international conference.
Participants highlighted the importance of managing transitions in the Arab countries through building trust between citizens and the states, in addition to strengthening civil society and improving data transparency. They also called for investment in science and technology, identifying labor market policies for youth, and setting country-specific policies and strategies. Participants recommended enhancing agriculture productivity where economically viable, and increasing cooperation on water and land management that may reduce conflict risks.
The parley concluded by stressing the necessity of strengthening social security and protection, developing human capacity to foster innovation, securing better health for mothers, and setting smart strategic partnerships.
The conference was also organized in collaboration with the American University of Beirut, Cairo University, the Economic Research Forum, the Hassan II Institute for Agronomy and Veterinary Medicine in Rabat and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Area. Participants from the Arab region included researchers, policymakers, program managers, and development practitioners.