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Battling back from COVID-19, world leaders from Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to gather on major push to achieve SDGs

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Rapid uptake of digitalization and innovation seen as key

05/08/2021 MEDIA ADVISORY AND INVITATION

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is convening a virtual forum of world leaders from Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in a major push forward to help its Members regain their momentum toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), badly affected by the global pandemic, ongoing triple-dimensional forms of malnutrition and increasingly extreme natural hazards related to climate change.

Co-hosted by the Government of Fiji, FAO will organize the SIDS Solutions Forum, 30 -- 31 August. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) will partner with FAO for the event.

Heads of States and Governments from SIDS in the Pacific will be joined by representatives from SIDS countries in the African and Americas regions. Ministers holding key government portfolios related to agriculture, food, nutrition, environment, health and ICT, are expected to participate and play leading roles -- as is the private sector, civil society and others -- in sharing replicable solutions.

The special case for a SIDS Solutions Forum

While COVID-19 has impacted lives and livelihoods in many countries around the world, Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have been hit especially hard. Many that relied heavily on tourism were forced to close their borders, losing badly needed revenue while individuals and families lost their incomes. Even before the pandemic, SIDS countries, in particular, were sharing other challenges such as frequent natural disasters, limited arable land, dependence on small-scale agriculture, high-priced imports, and a high prevalence of non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes. All of these issues have hampered their progress toward achieving the 2030 SDG targets.

The SIDS Solutions Forum creates a space for government leaders, development partners, farmers, fishers, community development practitioners and leaders, entrepreneurs, women and youth to discuss, share, promote and encourage home-grown and imported solutions to respond to the challenges posed by COVID-19, and several of those that pre-existed the pandemic. The ultimate goal is to accelerate achievement of agriculture, food and nutrition related SDGs in SIDS.

Digitalization and innovation - an important way forward for SIDS on the road to 2030

Digital technologies are transforming agri-food systems. While this is an important development everywhere, it is of great importance to remote areas such as SIDS. The expansion of mobile technologies, remote-sensing services and distributed computing are already improving smallholders' access to information, inputs and markets, increasing production and productivity, streamlining supply chains and reducing operational costs.

Robotics, together with artificial intelligence (AI), are examples of how digital innovation support farmers in the management of herds and crops. Digital innovation holds the potential to unlock employment opportunities, bridge the rural divide and empower youth and women to access information, technology and markets.

Sharing these rapidly evolving digital innovations will accelerate progress toward achieving the SDGs in SIDS. Therefore, the SIDS Solutions Forum will launch a knowledge exchange platform to incubate, promote, scale up and replicate locally grown ideas to accelerate the achievement of agriculture, food, nutrition, environment and health.

A global event -- a major media opportunity [30 -- 31 August] -- before and during.

The two-day virtual event will attract high-level participation. The agenda and participant's list will be available soon. Media can find a registration page here or by accessing the event page here

In advance of the forum, for media interview bids, and for other specific media queries, (e.g. facilitating thematic story ideas, sharing SIDS contacts and arranging interviews in SIDS) please contact allan.dow@fao.org +66898915003 (GMT+6) More on the event here.