On Tuesday September 27th a well-attended side session at the 25th meeting of the Committee on Agriculture marked the official beginning of the campaign to establish an International Year of Plant Health in 2020. A number of speakers, including FAO Assistant Director General Ren Wang, Veli-Pekka Talvela, Director General, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland and Eric Robinson, Alternate Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Canada to the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Agencies of the United Nations gave presentations on the importance of encouraging public support to plant health to help address issues of global concern, including hunger, poverty and threats to the environment. Mr. Ralf Lopian, also of the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and Director of Plant Health as well as IPPC Secretary Jingyuan Xia provided remarks on global and regional perspectives, and the importance of raising awareness of plant health issues in general. After the series of presentations, attendees took the opportunity to ask questions of the speakers. In response to one question, both ADG Wang and DG Talvela noted that the IYPH is not intended to be only focused on plant protection or plant quarantine, but a comprehensive effort to increase awareness of the importance of plant health overall. There was also emphasis on the relationship between an IYPH and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 as well as FAO’s Strategic Objectives.
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