The OECD Global Forum on Agriculture will take place this year in Paris, 6th December 2013.
The OECD Global Forum on Agriculture fosters an informed dialogue between OECD member and non-member economies on agricultural policies issues. This dialogue is based on regular monitoring and analysis to evaluate and strengthen the process of policy reform and trade liberalisation through forward-looking analysis, and addresses emerging agricultural policy issues.
Themes for the Global Forum on Agriculture have revolved around the linkages between domestic policy reform, trade liberalization, economic growth and poverty reduction, but the focus has been on agricultural policy. The Forum usually takes a global view and analytical work is examined with respect to the “real world” needs of policy makers.
Participants include government officials from OECD countries and a wide range of non-member economies, agricultural experts from intergovernmental organisations, NGOs, producer groups and agribusiness, and researchers.
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Earlier this month saw the launch of the OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2012-2021 report, which provides market projections for different agricultural sectors – including biofuels, cereals, oilseeds, sugar, meats, dairy products, fish and seafood.
The Outlook report highlights how, over the next 40 years, agricultural production must increase by 60 per cent in order to meet the rising global demand for food – equating to one billion additional tones of cereals and 200 million extra tones of meat per year by 2050 compared with 2005/07 levels.
Price volatility still remains a concern, with weather-related yield variability being the main threat as long as food stocks remain low. Food commodity prices are expected to remain on a higher plateau over the next decade, underpinned by firm demand but a slowing growth in global production, and will feature prominently in policymakers’ agendas.
Population growth, higher per capita incomes, urban migration, changing diets in developing countries and rising requirements for biofuels are all contributing to increased demand for food. Meanwhile, more frequent and extreme weather events are affecting our food supply, our infrastructure and our livelihoods. Globally, the scope for area expansions is limited and by 2050, total arable land is projected to increase by only about 5 per cent (69 million hectares). Increasing productivity will be central in containing food prices and will be a key factor in reducing global food insecurity.
Agricultural growth is predicted to slow to an average of 1.7 percent annually over the next 10 years, which is down from a trend rate of over 2 percent per year in recent decades.
The Outlook report expects developing countries to be the main drivers of growth in global agricultural production through to 2021, as they have the greatest potential to increase land devoted to agriculture and to improve productivity. They will also account for the majority of exports of rice, oilseeds, vegetable and palm oil, protein meals, sugar, beef, poultry meat, fish and fish products by 2021.
Encouraging better agronomic practices, creating the right commercial, technical and regulatory environment, and strengthening agricultural innovation systems (e.g research, education, extension, infrastructure), including measures addressing the specific needs of smallholders are all highlighted in the Outlook report as essential policy challenges. Measures to reduce food loss and waste are also key to meeting rising demand and improving productivity in the supply chain.
During a press briefing at the launch of the Outlook report, Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General said:
Increased productivity, green-growth and more open markets will be essential if the food and nutrition requirements of future generations are to be met.
FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva went on to say:
For consumers, especially for the millions of people living in extreme poverty, high food prices have caused considerable hardship. We need to redouble our efforts to bring down the number of hungry people. We must focus on increasing sustainable productivity growth, especially in developing countries, and especially for small producers.
Angel Gurría outlined five steps to achieving sustainable agricultural productivity growth:
Encourage better agronomic practices and promote the green growth potential of agriculture.
Ensure increased efficiency on a global scale.
Encourage agricultural innovation.
Increase investment in infrastructure and close the gender gap in the developing world.
The report includes input from eleven different international organisations in a joint effort to assemble a set of ten tactical recommendations for sustainably improving agricultural productivity growth.
The report builds on commitments made at the 2011 G20 Summit, which saw the creation of the Agricultural Market Information System, and highlights that investment and innovation will be needed to implement future solutions for productive and sustainable agricultural solutions.
Below is a summary of the recommendations for G20 governments.
According to the authors and contributors to the report, G20 governments should:
Commit to investment in domestic agriculture, with particular attention to smallholder farmers of both genders; collaborate with concerned international organisations; and introduce an on-going process of analysis and peer review to find best policy options.
Demonstrate leadership to strengthen international disciplines on import and export restrictions; promote greater adherence to sanitary measures developed by international research organisations; and support sanitary capacity building.
Continue to support on-going initiatives to contribute to improving agricultural productivity sustainably; facilitate exchange of experience and policy dialogue on Agricultural Innovation Systems at a high level by supporting an annual meeting of “chief scientists” in G20 countries and involving a variety of platforms; strengthen efforts of the national, regional and global levels to identify, assess, prioritise, monitor and evaluate investments in Agricultural Innovations Systems.
Commit to support developing countries to establish and enforce appropriate Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) systems consistent with international obligations; support the development and promotion of a global information system on plant and animal genetic resources.
Support countries in considering a range of policy responses for improved agricultural water management; promote innovations in water research to farmers; seek to improve and build resilience for water governance at an institutional level to address climate change related water security risks; continue dialogue based on the recommendations concerning food security and water made by ministers at the World Water Forum in March 2012.
Commit to reviewing policies that may generate perverse incentives for sustainability and encourage unsustainable use of natural resources; support developing countries in implementing policies based on a comprehensive analysis of the relationships between food security, food production and natural resource use; support developing countries to strengthen evaluation systems of “market-smart” smallholder targeted input subsidy programmes.
Support the efforts of relevant international organisations and risk management initiatives, such as the Platform for Agricultural Risk Management; strengthen their own efforts towards exchanging weather information.
Support the continued provision of targeted, well-designed and gender-sensitive social safety-net programmes that meet the immediate food and nutrition needs of smallholders and their households.
Recommend the explicit integration of agricultural education and the sustainable agriculture intensification agenda into the international organisations’ initiative to support national skills development strategies; recognise the equal importance of the roles of women and men farmers in promoting sustainable agricultural productivity growth.
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The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has launched a new report “Environmental Outlook to 2050: The Consequences of Inaction.“ It explores the question “What will the next four decades bring?” and urges governments to take immediate policy action before the consequences of recent decades of unprecedented human growth become irreversible.
The report is based on joint modelling by the OECD and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and focuses on the implications of socio- economic trends on four key areas of concern: climate change, biodiversity, freshwater and health impacts of pollution. It concludes that despite uncertainties, urgent and holistic action is needed from policy-makers or the consequences will be significant on both human and economic terms. The report ultimately presents interlinked action-based solutions and addresses some potential challenges and trade-offs.
The report discusses key growth projections for 2050:
World energy demand in 2050 will be 80% higher, with most growth to come from emerging economies and still 85% reliant on fossil fuel-based energy. This could lead to a 50% increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally and worsening air pollution. *
Urban air pollution is set to become the top environmental cause of mortality worldwide by 2050, ahead of dirty water and lack of sanitation. *
Global biodiversity is projected to decline by a further 10% and areas of mature forests are projected to shrink by 13%.*
About one-third of biodiversity in rivers and lakes worldwide has already been lost, and further losses are projected to 2050. *
The arrival of these projections could see a future hard-pressed to meet the needs of 9 billion people. To avert this scenario, the report recommends new thinking through a variety of global policy solutions such as environmental taxes, emissions trading schemes, pricing of natural assets and ecosystem services, removal of wasteful subsidies and schemes, and encouraging green innovation around production and consumption modes.
OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría says:
Greener sources of growth can help governments today as they tackle these pressing challenges. Greening agriculture, water and energy supply and manufacturing will be critical by 2050 to meet the needs of over 9 billion people.
The report also highlights some effective green growth policies already in place in many countries such as the UK, US, Mexico and Japan. One example is a water pilot programme in Mexico that transfers cash directly to farmers instead of subsidising the electricity they use to pump irrigation water, helping to remove price distortion leading to over-use of groundwater.
We have already witnessed the collapse of some fisheries due to overfishing, with significant impacts on coastal communities, and severe water shortages are a looming threat to agriculture. These enormous environmental challenges cannot be addressed in isolation. They must be managed in the context of other global challenges, such as food and energy security, and poverty alleviation.
The report’s authors found that increases in income earned from farming contributed more to poverty reduction than increased earnings from non-farm occupations.
The report also found that agricultural growth was pro-poor for all the variants of data used, but that this uniformity of growth was not present in non-agricultural sectors – in fact, the report’s findings show that isolated growth in a non-agricultural sector could have no effect, or even increase net poverty. The report’s authors noted that within poorer countries, estimated poverty elasticity for agriculture was significantly higher.
The report saw the countries posting the fastest progress in reducing poverty also reporting the greatest improvements in basic aspects of human development, particularly in education.
Lastly, the report argued that agricultural progress in the study countries seems in most part to the success of macroeconomic, trade and socioeconomic policies in fostering balanced economic growth.
The report’s authors conclude that in general when economies grow, incomes earned by those who farm for a living rise faster than other sectors.
To find out more or to read the report in full, please go to: