Type of Dialogue
Language of Dialogue Event
Please review the details below for registration information if available or contact the Convenor if you would like to attend.
The Commonwealth is the home to 2.4 billion people spread around 5 continents, including both advanced economies and developing countries. Agriculture and fisheries ensure food security and employment in most of the Commonwealth countries. More than half of the population in 32 of the 54 Commonwealth countries reside in rural areas and are engaged in smallholder agriculture and artisanal fisheries. Building a resilient agricultural and fisheries system is therefore paramount to the future growth and development of its young population.
At the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, the Commonwealth adopted the Declaration on the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda for Trade and Investment (CCA). The CCA is a major new member-state led initiative to grow intra-Commonwealth trade and investment to US$2 trillion by 2030 and promote expanded investment to support global growth, create employment, and promote knowledge exchange among Commonwealth members. The Supply-Side Connectivity Cluster (SSCC) of CCA is driven by Member States and led by the government of Vanuatu. The Cluster works in close collaboration with Member countries, international development organisations, the private sector, regional organisations partners across the Commonwealth and beyond including the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA).
The Cluster focuses on digitalisation as an enabler for smallholder agriculture and fisheries transformation. Digitalisation is seen as a game-changer for smallholder agriculture and fisheries transformation. The Cluster therefore takes a holistic approach to digitalisation by framing it to consist of four main pillars – digital innovations, data infrastructure, business development services, and the enabling environment. While all four pillars are critical for stakeholders to harness digitalisation across the sectors, there is a special focus on the data infrastructure pillar for this Dialogue.
Agricultural and Fisheries Data Infrastructure
Agricultural and fisheries data infrastructure may consist of two components “content data” from soil maps, agronomic data, weather data, stock data, vessels, market data, etc. and “user data” on stakeholders such as farmers, fisherfolks, traders, consumers, research networks, extension networks, financial institutions, cooperatives. Without accurate, up-to-date, and sustainable data infrastructure, even well-intentioned policies can wreak unnecessary economic loss and fail to meet the needs of the intended beneficiaries. On the other hand, a concerted approach to building and coordinating such an infrastructure could prevent future negative effects of the pandemic on the food and agricultural sector.
Unfortunately, the current model of fisheries and agricultural data infrastructure in Commonwealth member countries can be described as “Spokes without Hubs”. Investment in both content and user data is being driven by service providers (mostly the private sector). Multiple agricultural and fisheries data infrastructure is being built in countries independently by service providers with little or no coordination by governments. The result is the current state of short-lived, anecdotal outcomes and unsustainable digital agriculture initiatives with little impact on the sector.
Purpose: This Independent Dialogue aims to:
- Bring forth the importance of the Commonwealth in the Food System discourse.
- Discuss the importance of data infrastructure in digitalising the agricultural and fisheries sectors.
- Explore the role of Commonwealth governments in coordinating this infrastructure at national level.
The Dialogue: This independent dialogue will deliberate on the economic importance of the agricultural and fisheries sectors in the Commonwealth, discuss the challenges to the transformation of the sectors through digitalisation, and deep dive into the role of national governments in facilitating and coordinating agricultural and fisheries data infrastructure possibly through a “Hub” model. The content of the Dialogue cuts across Action Tracks 1 & 5 of the Summit: 1) Ensuring access to safe and nutritious food for all; 2) Shifting to sustainable (and healthy) consumption patterns; 3) Boosting nature-positive production at sufficient scale; 4) Advancing equitable livelihoods and value distribution; and 5) Building resilience to vulnerabilities, shocks and stress.Specific roundtables will be organised around the following topics:
- The economic importance of agriculture and fisheries in the post-COVID-19 recovery in the Commonwealth
- Key challenges affecting the scale-up and sustainability of digital agricultural and fisheries initiatives
- The role of national governments in facilitating and coordinating agricultural and fisheries data infrastructure in the Commonwealth.
Expected Outputs: Results from the Dialogue will be captured and fed into:
- The ongoing CCA activities to grow intra-Commonwealth agricultural and fisheries trade and investment; and
- The final proceedings of the UN Food Systems Summit in September/October 2021.