11 November 2015 ¬Ė On 4-6 November, CABI held its Asia-Pacific regional consultation meeting in Putrajaya, Malaysia. It was a well-attended and successful event, where more than 65 delegates from 11 Asia-Pacific CABI member countries, over 20 partner organizations and four potential member countries, together with CABI staff, reviewed and discussed priorities for the region. This collaborative consultation resulted in the identification of new and emerging priority areas, including food and nutrition security, climate-smart plant health systems and mixed farming advisory services on the top of the existing seven priority areas, considered to remain very relevant to the needs of CABI member countries and partners:

1.            Trade and market access and development

2.            Knowledge management, communication and use

3.            Plant health

4.            Biodiversity and invasive species management

5.            Climate smart agriculture

6.            Institutional capacity building

7.            Publication of, and access to, authoritative information resources

The consultation meeting focused on invasive species ¬Ė specifically the livelihoods threat facing the Asia-Pacific region ¬Ė and highlighted issues of other select strategic areas such as open data and mobile information delivery, plant health system development, CABI’s role in facilitating trade and market access, and CABI¬ís policy on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) Compliance under the Nagoya Protocol. Member country representatives and other delegates were impressed with CABI¬ís overall progress, and what CABI has done in addressing their needs and priorities. They were pleased to be engaged in a way that gave them ownership of the organisation, the priority areas and the issues identified and agreed upon in the consultation meetings.

CABI and the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI) also signed a Memorandum of Understanding to further the CABI-MARDI relationship and forge more synergistic collaboration in future. These collaborations include events like the recent CABI-MARDI training workshop on whiteflies, where attendees learned techniques for the collection, identification and quarantine risks associated with this crop pest, one of the most damaging in the tropics.

Looking at major food security challenges, Dr Trevor Nicholls, CABI’s CEO, presented on issues including population growth, competition for land use and climate change. He reviewed CABI strategic goals that aim to tackle these challenges, which covered nutrition security, farmer incomes, sustainable farming and protection of biodiversity.

Talking about the role the Asia-Pacific region plays in global food security, Dr Dennis Rangi, CABI¬ís Director General, Development, commented: ¬ďAsia and the Pacific Region has been a prime mover of economic growth globally in recent decades. The region is the planet¬ís biggest producer of cereals, vegetables, fruits, meat and fish, with strong growth in all areas. The Asia-Pacific experience shows clearly that agriculture plays a key role in the development process, and that a healthy growing agricultural sector is essential to reducing hunger and poverty.¬Ē

The theme of this round of consultations was improving livelihoods through knowledge solutions and partnerships. On the subject of partnership, Dr Umi Kalsom Abu Bakar, Deputy Director General of MARDI, commented: ¬ďAn organization like CABI is very important to facilitate collaboration and cooperation among member countries ¬Ö I call upon all of you today to play an active part in this consultation session to further strengthen the role of CABI in bridging scientific knowledge and building strategic partnerships among its member countries especially in the Asia-Pacific Region.¬Ē

Dr Umi Kalsom Abu Bakar’s comments were underscored by four case study presentations on the partnership with CABI from Bangladesh, China, Indonesia and Pakistan. These presentations described long and productive partnerships with CABI, and highlighted opportunities where CABI can continue to play an important role in facilitating more south-south and triangular collaborations among CABI’s member countries and partners.

This was the second of CABI’s three regional consultations for 2015-16. The African consultation took place in Zambia in October 2015. The third regional consultation will take place in Costa Rica in February 2016 covering the Americas and Caribbean. Priorities from the Asia-Pacific consultation will be consolidated with those from the two other regional consultations, and matched with CABI’s capabilities, resources and strategies. The consolidated results will then be fed into CABI’s Review Conference, scheduled to take place in July 2016, and help guide the organization’s overall strategy for the coming years.

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