Photo by Madelline Romero/CIAT

The Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) formally launched an Asia-Pacific partnership work plan at a forum hosted by FAO’s Regional Office in Bangkok on July 12th.

The regional partnership work plan 2018-2019 is part of a broader agreement between CIAT headquarters and FAO through its regional office in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the Asia-Pacific region, the collaborative agenda initially covers four priority topics – climate-smart agriculture, natural resources, and ecosystem services management, food systems and nutrition, and big data for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) monitoring – from which new initiatives between the two organizations have been developed. During the discussions in Bangkok, participants suggested expanding the scope to include crop health, soil agroecology, and drought management, and widening the geographical scope to put greater emphasis on small-island states and the South Pacific sub-region.

Through this partnership, FAO and CIAT envision to contribute to Asia-Pacific countries’ achievement of SDGs including those for: zero hunger (SDG 2), clean water and sanitation (SDG 6), sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11), climate action (SDG 13), and life on land (SDG 15).

Photo by Madelline Romero/CIAT

At the Bangkok forum, CIAT Director General Dr. Ruben Echeverria gave an overview of the synergies between CIAT agenda and FAO priorities for Asia-Pacific, followed by a presentation by Ms. Xiangjun Yao, FAO-RAP Strategic Programme Leader, identifying key strategic opportunities for CIAT to help FAO foster closer engagement by member states in the region.

As well as new opportunities, forum participants also identified follow-on activities to current joint work by FAO and CIAT in the region.

FAO and CIAT contribute to efforts addressing climate change in Asia

Promoting evidence-based climate policy in Asia

FAO is a member of the CIAT-convened Climate Policy Hub, a knowledge hub promoting science- and evidence-based climate policy in Asia, hosted by CIAT’s Asia regional office in Hanoi, Vietnam. Through the Climate Policy Hub, FAO and CIAT, together with national and development partners, are developing national climate-smart agriculture “profiles” – a one-stop shop for information on impacts of climate change to agriculture and viable responses, including available financing mechanisms – for Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. Following the development of national climate-smart agriculture profiles, sub-national level CSA profiles are being prepared for Sindh and Punjab provinces in Pakistan, and Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao regions in the Philippines, to provide policymakers more targeted and contextualized policy and investment guide for climate action. CIAT and FAO have been working with governments on mobilizing finance for climate-smart agriculture; for example, they work with the national governments of Nepal and the Philippines on designing programs for potential financing by the Green Climate Fund. This technical assistance includes support for implementation of climate information services, among others.

Ensuring deforestation-free agriculture in Asia

As part of efforts to make agriculture – one of the top contributors of greenhouse gases responsible for warming temperatures – help mitigate climate change, CIAT and FAO work together in supporting forest conservation efforts of national governments, for example, Cambodia. They do this through a combination of deploying a forest monitoring tool – Terra-i – and strengthening institutional capacities for ground action. Developed by CIAT and partners, Terra-i is a near-real time monitoring system that detects changes in natural vegetation patterns and compiles these in a monthly report of high-resolution data and imagery refreshed every 16 days.

“There is a natural match to the work of FAO and CIAT,” Dr. Dindo Campilan, CIAT Regional Director for Asia, said. “FAO’s policy engagement platform with national governments provides a most effective avenue for CIAT’s science-driven tools and knowledge products to support the needs and priorities of partner countries in Asia-Pacific for climate-resilient agri-food systems.”

Campilan and Ms. Kaori Abe, FAO-RAP Programme Officer, will co-coordinate the implementation of the joint annual work plan. Besides undertaking joint research and technical assistance activities, both organizations have agreed to set up schemes for staff exchanges and expertise support services.

In thanking CIAT for its efforts in partnering with FAO-RAP, Ms. Kundhavi Kadiresan, FAO Assistant Director-General/RAP Regional Representative, remarked on “CIAT’s unique role as a CGIAR Center with whom we at FAO share a wide range of priority areas of work especially in Asia-Pacific.”

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