Remarks by DG Azevêdo
This year marks a milestone for this Advanced SPS course: 15 years of existence.
This course has trained more than 350 government officials from developing and least developed countries.
Participants from around the world have taken home the tools they need to implement projects that improve sanitary and phytosanitary capacities in their countries.
Some of these projects have improved the compliance capacity of domestic businesses, opening up new markets. Others have developed systems to strengthen consumer protection or plant and animal health.
All these projects had something in common: a passionate person working hard to make a positive difference in their country.
You have gone through a rigorous selection process to get here. The aim of this course is not to train SPS specialists, because you already are experts.
Each of you comes to this workshop with a project in mind that involves SPS-related issues in your home country.
Whatever the project may be, implementing it successfully will demand leadership, persuasion and communication skills. These are qualities that we sometimes forget we have, or that we might doubt we even possess.
Helping you uncover your potential is a central element of this course. That’s why this course’s informal motto is “You make the difference!”
Trade is being reshaped by new technologies, a changing climate and a growing population. Trade is already an essential conduit to move agricultural products from food-surplus countries to food-deficient countries. This role is only set to grow. In fact, trade will be an important contributor to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2: ending hunger, achieving food security and improving nutrition.
And yet, food safety risks, and animal and plant health concerns will not disappear. In fact, they are likely to increase with the emergence of new and stronger pests and diseases. Finding the right balance between members’ right to take SPS measures for the protection of human, animal or plant life or health, and the need to avoid unnecessary obstacles to trade will only become more important.
During the coming weeks, I encourage you to stay actively involved, to ask questions and to share your experiences. This course alone will not make a difference; the success and legacy of your respective projects will depend on your active involvement.
Based on past experience, the course will be enriching for all of you, and I am confident that you will make the most out of it.
I want to thank the Agriculture and Commodities Division, the Institute for Training and Technical Cooperation, the Standards and Trade Development Facility and you, the participants, for your efforts and for the role you all play in making this course a success.
Let us all keep working together to have smoother and safer agriculture trade.