More than 350 delegates from 27-member countries are currently meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam for the 26th annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF).
Minister for Defence and National Security, Hon. Ratu Inoke Kubuabola was the first of the Fiji delegates to speak at the Plenary Session 1 on Political and Security Matters.
Hon. Kubuabola highlighted challenges faced by Pacific countries in terms of transnational and organised crime such as drugs and trafficking in persons.
“Pacific’s increasing global connectivity and its rich natural resources such as timber and marine products presented ideal opportunities for criminal elements to exploit island countries inability to properly secure and monitor their territories.”
“In response, Pacific Island nations recognised the need to widen the scope of the 2000 Biketawa Declaration which outlines guiding principles for good governance and action for a response to crises in the region,” Hon. Ratu Inoke said.
He also highlighted Fiji’s own efforts to address transnational and organised crime. Parliament had approved Fiji’s accession to the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and its three protocols in 2017.
During Plenary Session 2, Assistant Minister for Health and Medical Services, Hon. Alexander O’Connor spoke on the topic of Food Security, Agriculture and Sustainable Development with emphasis on ‘Nutrition Security’.
Hon. O’Connor urged the APPF members to think “beyond food security and sustainable agriculture, and consider the importance of nutrition security”.
“Access to nutritious and healthy foods was one of the targets under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 – End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.”
“We should not address food security and hunger through sustainable agriculture, but “nutrition-sensitive agriculture. We need to produce and market more healthier foods,” Hon. O’Connor said.
APPF member countries were urged to invest more in smallholder famers and traditional horticultures as these were “excellent centres of nutrition-sensitive agriculture”.
Other Members of Parliament are expected to speak during Plenary Session 3 today, Saturday 20th January, 2018.
Meanwhile, Fiji parliamentary delegates also participated in the APPF Working Groups that deliberated over draft resolutions submitted by participating countries.
Minister for Youth and Sports, Hon. Laisenia Tuitubou represented the Fiji delegation at Working Group 2 on Economy, Trade and Regional Integration.
Opposition Member of Parliament Hon. Semesa Karavaki joined the Drafting Committee that was responsible for finalising all resolutions, communiques and other documents of the meeting.
Government Member of Parliament Hon. Samuela Vunivalu took part in Working Group 3 on the Regional Cooperation, Climate Change, Food Security, Cultural Cooperation and Sustainable Development.