Delegates from the majority of CABI’s 49 Member Countries joined forces with CABI staff and other partners at CABI’s triennial Review Conference to agree joint plans for work on great challenges of our era, including hunger, poverty, climate change, biodiversity loss and gender inequality.
These concerns are the focus of CABI’s new Medium-Term Strategy for 2023-2025, starting with the need to improve the food security and livelihoods of smallholder communities around the world.
Dr Ismahane Elouafi, Chief Scientist at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, highlighted the scale of the challenge, noting that: “The world is at a critical juncture of a global food crisis exacerbated by conflict, climate change, and economic instability. The challenge of feeding the global population now – let alone the expected 10 billion by 2050 – has never been so great.
“We must focus on how scientific research and development can contribute to ‘turning things around’ and provide sustainable solutions to achieve the SDGs in partnership with organisations such as CABI.
“I’m happy that CABI is an important partner in working towards the SDGs – and in particular SDG2 pertaining to helping end hunger – and look forward to working with you all towards this necessary goal.
“I also encourage Member Countries, partners and donors to support CABI’s new Medium-Term Strategy – which in turn will contribute towards the global effort of greater world food security.”
The food and sustainability crises are exacerbated by an unequal distribution of resources to women farmers, who make up, on average, 43 percent of the agricultural labour force in developing countries. If the gender gap was bridged the number of undernourished and hungry people worldwide would fall by 100-150 million. One of CABI’s goals for the period ahead is to reduce inequality through better opportunities for rural women and youth.
Other CABI goals for 2023-2025 focus on helping communities to adapt to impacts of climate change and on conserving biodiversity and sustainably using natural resources.
In a keynote presentation to the meeting, Dr Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary, of the Convention on Biological Diversity, stressed the linkages between food and nutrition security and biodiversity.
Dr Mrema told delegates: “We truly need all hands-on deck to adopt a robust framework that can be leveraged by all to transform the way we produce and the way we consume, and to restore our relationship with nature.
“I count on your leadership, commitment, and efforts to place biodiversity at the core of our approaches to sustainable development. And consider the importance of biodiversity for food systems and the health of all.
“I am excited to see the programme of work the CABI Review Conference brings together from all its Member Countries. And I commend CABI’s Medium-Term strategy’s focus on biodiversity, food and nutrition security, and sustainable value chains, among other priorities.”
Other discussions explored CABI’s goal to increase the reach and impact of science in agriculture and the environment. These highlighted the organisation’s strengths in combining science and evidence with communication and practical action, turning research into policy and practice worldwide.
The meeting concluded by considering the essential role of partnerships in addressing the focus areas in CABI’s new Medium-Term Strategy.
Dr Daniel Elger, CABI’s CEO, said, “We thank our Member Countries and other partners for working with us to develop a clear strategy for CABI’s next phase of work. As stressed at the meeting, concerted action will be just as critical when it comes to delivery of these plans.
“We are confident that with the continuing support and partnership of our Members and donors we will achieve meaningful progress on our shared goals over the next three years.”
Main photo: The importance of partnerships was highlighted at the 21st Review Conference (Credit: CABI).