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Dialogue strengthens on plant pest risks to food and humanitarian aid

Posted on Fri, 07 Jun 2024, 08:02

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© FAO/ Yousef Elruzzi

Rome, 07June 2024. In the sphere of humanitarian aid, providing food and other essentials for communities in crisis is a noble endeavor. However, while such aid is crucial during emergencies, it also brings potential threat of plant pests, posing long-term consequences on agriculture, the economy and communities.

The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) has recognized the importance of managing plant pest risks associated with the delivery of aid supplies. The Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM) Recommendation 9 was developed to assist contracting parties, government agencies and non-governmental organizations involved in humanitarian aid activities to minimize these potential risks. This recommendation emphasizes international cooperation, phytosanitary preparedness and response planning to prevent the spread of plant pests through aid channels.

The CPM Focus Group on Safe Provision of Food and other Humanitarian Aid

The CPM Focus Group on Safe Provision of Food and Other Humanitarian Aid, established at the CPM Sixteenth Annual Session in April 2022, aims to address critical challenges in managing pest risks associated with the delivery of food and humanitarian aid.

The group's goal is to address the challenges in mitigating the risk of introducing plant pests through aid supplies, particularly in regions already devastated by natural disasters or conflict. By working to address this issue, the group aims to support the IPPC objectives and protect agricultural sustainability, economic stability and societal well-being in vulnerable regions.

CPM-18 developments

During deliberations at the CPM-18 in April 2024, several significant proposals were discussed and adopted. Australia, supported by a number of countries, including Cook Islands, Canada, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, United States, United Kingdom and other nations, submitted papers highlighting progress made by the Focus Group and proposing adjustments to its terms of reference to further support its objectives.

A crucial proposal approved at CPM-18 involved extending the mandate of the Focus Group by 24 months until 2026, citing the need for sufficient time to collaboratively develop and deliver planned activities.

The IPPC community also welcomed, with great enthusiasm, the financial contributions from Australia for the work of this group.

The Focus Group Vice-Chair, Sophie Peterson underscored that “the agreement of the IPPC community, through CPM-18 to release the draft specification for an International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM) related to aid and extend the tenure of the Focus Group for another two years recognizes the need, by demonstrating a commitment, to continue work to address this nefarious and multifaceted issue.”

Additionally, the consultation on the Specification for the ISPM was approved at CPM-18 and the review of the comments included in the Terms of Reference of the focus group. This step aims to gather wider views on the draft document and inform decision-making regarding the development of ISPMs, which is to be taken at CPM-19 in 2025.

International cooperation

To support the IPPC's strategic framework for enhancing global food security, the Focus Group is tasked to discuss existing tools to help address this complex and important topic, as well as support the development of a global standard, if decided by the CPM. Moreover, the group will carry out several activities on awareness raising including a webinar, continue its engagement with key partners such as the World Food Programme and FAO Plant Production and Protection division. The group will also seek points for a joint action plan with other standard setting bodies under the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement of the World Trade Organization to help address this topic and contribute to save lives and ensure safe movement of humanitarian aid, which may have a big mid- and long-term impact if carrying plant pests.

Call for additional focus group members

The IPPC Secretariat launched a call for additional members for this focus group on 23 May 2024, which will remain open until 24 June 2024. Interested individuals may view the revised Terms of Reference of the group in the CPM-18 document 24 here.

It is planned that the focus group will meet face to face from 7 to 11 October 2024 (venue TBC) and again in 2025. Nominations are sought from IPPC official contact points. Check the IPPC website for the call for members.

Related information:

BLOG: Plant health standards and the safe delivery of food and humanitarian aid

© Pacific community (SPC) - IPPC CPM focus group on Safe Provision of Food and other Humanitarian Aid at their February 2023 meeting in Nadi, Fiji.

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