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Increasing responsible agricultural investment in the Near East and North Africa, May 2018

14 May, 2018

Conflict, water scarcity, climate change, rapid population growth, youth unemployment, increased food demand, rising agricultural trade deficits – these are just some of the challenges facing the Near East and North Africa region.

And these challenges are making it difficult for the region’s countries to sustainably increase food supplies and maximize agriculture’s potential to reduce poverty and strengthen their economies.

With this in mind, FAO organized a side event on fostering agriculture and food investment in the region during the 34th session of FAO’s Regional Conference for the Near East and North Africa, which was held in Rome last week. 

The side event focused on the urgent need for public and private investment in food and agriculture to tackle some of the region’s most pressing development issues – from reducing rural poverty, stimulating economic growth and addressing migration challenges, to ending hunger and reducing malnutrition.

Discussions highlighted the important role of governments in promoting responsible agricultural investments and creating enabling policy, legal and regulatory environments conducive to private investment – vital for enhancing countries’ competitiveness.  

Support to sustainable investment in food and agriculture is a core FAO function and fully embedded in its vision for ending hunger and poverty.

FAO’s strategic approach to investment draws strength from its longstanding partnerships with international financing institutions and multilateral organizations such as the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the African Development Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and latterly the European Union.

FAO’s support is varied and wide-ranging. It provides technical assistance to member countries in designing, implementing and evaluating large-scale public investments funded by partner organizations. It also facilitates public-private dialogue, assists countries with their national agricultural investment planning and strengthens national investment capacities.

The side event showcased FAO’s different investment support activities as well as success stories, both globally and in the region, including FAO and EBRD’s support to raising the profile of the olive oil sectors in Tunisia and Morocco. It also featured country investment planning exercises, with examples from Egypt, Oman, Tunisia, Morocco and Sudan.

Over 150 delegates attended the regional conference – held every two years to define regional priorities and ensure the effectiveness of FAO’s work in the field – including 15 ministers, 30 FAO members from the region and representatives from civil society, the private sector and other UN organizations.