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Farming First supporter the International Council for Science (ICSU) has released a downloadable set of recommendations and summaries on food security, following the ISCU Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation held at Rio+20 in June.
Tim Benton, Champion, UK Global Food Security (GFDS) programme, Institute of Integrative and Comparative Biology, University of Leeds, UK
Ruvimbo Mabeza-Chimedza, Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension, Zimbabwe
Ram Badan Singh, Indian Academy of Agricultural Sciences, India
Adrian Fernández Bremauntz, Advisor on Sustainability to the Dean of the Metropolitan University, Mexico City, Mexico
The paper argues that in order to meet the vision of the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on Global Sustainability to “eradicate poverty, reduce inequality and make growth inclusive, and production and consumption more sustainable, while combating climate change and respecting a range of other planetary boundaries”, it is necessary to recognise that agriculture is an essential part of sustainable development and that the global community must prioritise it.
Key recommendations include challenging the scientific community to take a transdisciplinary approach in addressing the nexus of food, water and energy, as well as fostering regional collaboration as a platform for sharing local-appropriate solutions. Important strategic recommendations include the need to integrate food security and sustainable agriculture into global and national policies for green growth, the implementation of appropriate governance structures to minimise negative environmental impacts and the need to reshape food access and consumption patterns to be more sustainable.
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Our goal at Farming First is not only to unite the numerous stakeholders in global agriculture, such as scientists, development organisations and the private sector, but also to make the disparate voices of farmers around the world heard. Argentinean agronomist and farmer, Santiago del Solar, accompanied Farming First to the Rio+20 negotiations, to take part in the great debate. His previous experience as President of Maizar, the Argentine Corn and Sorghum Association, and his daily work running his family farms in the province of Buenos Aires, producing corn, soybeans, wheat and barley, made him a valuable spokesperson at the World Summit, and able to express the issues most important to farmers in the field.
In a recent article in La Nacion, Santiago documented his experience at Rio+20. Pleased that the world recognises farmers will be the ones to eradicate hunger, and with the wide acceptance for all types of agriculture, from traditional to modern practices, he commented:
Hunger is not an insoluble punishment, it is quite the opposite. With political action and the correct distribution of resources, we can get out of this great disaster.
Citing the FAO’s prediction that it will cost 30 billion USD per year to eradicate hunger, Santiago also pointed out that this figure pales into insignificance, against the 300 billion USD dedicated to agricultural subsidies, or indeed the trillions of dollars given over to banking bailouts.
It is also true that hunger is a much more complicated issue than one that can simply be solved with money. Local initiatives such as Argentina’s Nutricion 10 Hambre Cero are more along the lines of thought expressed at Rio+20.
What can Argentina do specifically in the face of this global challenge?
First we must realise we are one of the countries the world considers able to increase food production. Today, Argentina is capable of feeding 410 million people, and has population of only 40 million. But we are still so far from deploying all the large-scale, sustainable tools we have. Agricultural output in Argentina cannot and must not stagnate. In 2050 the world population will reach 9 billion and we all have the right to adequate food. We must be one of the countries that answers this 9 billion people question.
Farming First also interviewed Santiago on site at Rio+20, where he talked about the different farming practices used in Argentina, and how collaboration will be the answer to solving the global challenge of hunger. Watch more expert interviews at www.farmingfirst.tv.
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The world has come a long way since the last Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, where the terms hunger, nutrition and food security did not appear in the Summit Declaration. Twenty years later, The Rio+20 Declaration acknowledges food security and nutrition as pressing global challenges and affirms commitment to enhancing food security and access to adequate, safe and nutritious food for present and future generations.
The final agreed text recognizes the need to revitalize the agricultural and rural development sectors, particularly in developing countries and takes note of the importance of empowering women as critical agents for enhancing agricultural and rural development and food security and nutrition. The outcome places particular emphasis on the need for action to enhance agricultural research, extension services, training, education and access to technology to improve agricultural productivity and sustainability through the voluntary sharing of knowledge and good practices.
Farming First welcomes the positive language that recognizes the need to invest in science and research and knowledge-sharing mechanisms, and the value and role of technologies. Farmers need to have access to training, extension services, and sharing of traditional knowledge that will increase their productivity enabling them to feed their families, to grow their incomes, and spur innovation. Mobilisation of multi-stakeholder partnerships bringing together the scientific, donor, business, NGO, and farmer communities is needed to improve knowledge sharing and to build capacity.
I feel it is important to emphasis that this text is the end of a long process, but for agriculture, it represents a new starting point. It gives us an opportunity, and a path forward to revitalize the agricultural and rural development sectors throughout the world. It is imperfect, and we are very disappointed there is not a clause fully dedicated to the specific needs of rural women who lag behind on every Millennium Development Goal. We must now focus on implementing the good ideas in this text and bringing real change for farmers throughout the world.
Food security and sustainable agriculture were highlighted as one of seven priority areas at the Rio+20 negotiations. Feeding a global population of 9 billion people by 2050 will require at least a 70% increase in global food production and a 50% rise in investments in food, agriculture and rural development.
Earlier in the week, 600 of the world’s leading agricultural experts came together at Agriculture and Rural Development Day, for which Farming First was an official partner, to ensure that the new vision for sustainable development outlined at Rio+20 recognizes the importance of agriculture and includes actions for achieving a sustainable food system.
Rio is only one step along the way to achieving a sustainable food system. It needs to be seen as part of the global effort to revitalize and leverage the potential of agriculture to reduce poverty, which includes the G8 and G20, as well as other initiatives at regional and national levels. The announcement during the G8 Summit in May of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition is significant and promises increased private and public investments in African agriculture, a supportive policy and regulatory framework and a commitment to women’s empowerment. Global leaders must continue to build on existing efforts through commitments to the development of national, regional and global food security and green economy strategies that fight poverty and enable sustainable economic growth.
In the context of discussions on the green economy, agriculture and food security, Farming First recognizes four key recommendations in the Rio Declaration:
1. Poverty reduction: Make agriculture a driver for rural economic development by ensuring policies that link producers to markets and enable value to be created throughout the supply chain, diversifying rural activities and creating jobs.
2. Focus on enhancing sustainable intensification: the world will need to produce more with less resources per acre in order to meet growing food and while reducing demands on water, energy and soil. Increasing productivity should be a priority to protect habitat, by not increasing the amount of land under cultivation.
3. Invest in training, knowledge sharing, extension services, as well as research and development to close the uptake gap for existing tools and ensure new solutions are available for tomorrow.
4. An emphasis on the role of rural women, empowering them to become leaders in the rural economy and to achieve income gains which they will reinvest in families and communities.
Agriculture and Rural Development Day (ARDD) united around 600 agricultural experts in order to ensure that the new vision for sustainable development outlined at Rio+20 recognizes the importance of agriculture and includes key steps necessary for achieving a sustainable food system. Specific examples of these steps being called for today include:
A commitment to the generation and dissemination of knowledge to improve food systems
A clear process towards a Sustainable Development Goal for food and agriculture
Dr. Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, Chief Executive of the South Africa-based Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), commented:
Rio+20 negotiators must make explicit the link between food security and sustainable development as well as steps needed to ensure farmers, especially smallholders, have dignified livelihoods, can feed their families and have money in their pockets. For this to happen they require conducive policy environments that enable them access to markets and appropriate technology.
ARDD featured keynote speakers, including the Brazilian Minister for the Environment, Izabella Teixeira. Two high-level panel discussions also took place, as well as thirteen participatory “learning events” that shared knowledge from various projects on the ground in the developing world that are already offering lasting solutions to poverty and food and nutrition insecurity. Business representatives also participated in the day event, showing support for increased private investment in agriculture, following on from the $3 billion investment pledged by businesses as part of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition announced by the G8 last month.
Anne Grethe Dalane, Regional Director of Latin America chaired a Farming First Learning Event, entitled “Achieving and measuring sustainable intensification: the role of technology, best practices and partnerships”. She commented on her sector’s role in agriculture for a green economy:
The private sector is an essential player in delivering the technologies, tools and knowledge needed by farmers. Public-private partnerships can play a key role in driving sustainable growth in agricultural productivity.
Rachel Kyte, Vice President for Sustainable Development, World Bank & Chair, CGIAR Fund Council, praised the efforts made by the Agriculture and Rural Development Day Consortium. She commented:
Today we are seeing best practices in action. We know that, if scaled up with speed, these approaches could increase food production and improve livelihoods without damaging the environment. We need to create conditions for innovation and then invest so that innovation moves from the lab to the farmer’s fields.
Food security has been highlighted as one of the seven priority areas of the Rio+20 negotiations.Feeding a global population of 9 billion people by 2050 will require at least a 70% increase in global food production and a 50% rise in investments in the agricultural sector.
Growth from agriculture is at least twice as effective in reducing poverty than any other sector. Through improved management of crops, livestock, soil, water, forests and other natural habitats, smallholder farmers can achieve the triple win of (1) stronger food security with reduced poverty, (2) greater resilience in the face of environmental threats, and (3) more robust rural livelihoods.
Visit the Farming First Green Economy page for infographics and an animated video about the vital role agriculture plays.
Director-General of FAO, José Graziano da Silva said:
The quest for food security can be the common thread that links the different challenges we face and helps build a sustainable future. At the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) we have the golden opportunity to explore the convergence between the agendas of food security and sustainability to ensure that happens.
Food has already been outlined as one of the seven priority areas for the Rio+20 negotiations. The global food and agriculture system requires a complete transformation if we are to nourish the one billion estimated to be hungry, as well as the extra two billion people that will inhabit our planet but 2050.
In this new policy document, FAO outlines three key messages:
1. The Rio vision of sustainable development cannot be achieved unless hunger and malnutrition are eradicated
FAO asserts that reducing hunger and malnutrition starts with fair access to resources, employment and income in rural areas where people directly depend on agriculture, fisheries or forestry for their incomes as well as their food supply. Growth in the agriculture sectors of low-income and highly agriculture-dependent economies is twice as effective as that of other sectors in reducing hunger and poverty, creating employment and incomes. However to make sure this becomes reality FAO argues that improved policies, investment and governance are crucial.
FAO also advocates for the implementation of social protection programmes, such as the Fome Zero programme in Brazil, that can address hunger in the short-term, thus supporting longer-term growth in the form of a healthier, more productive workforce.
2. The Rio vision requires that both food consumption and production systems achieve more with less
If agricultural output is to be intensified, FAO argues we must improve current practices to ensure that negative impacts to the environment are reduced. These avoidable impacts include soil, water and nutrient depletion, greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, and degradation of natural ecosystems. The implementation of sustainable and climate-smart systems already in practice can help significantly reduce these impacts.
It is also essential to reduce waste and losses of food. FAO research shows that global losses and waste are estimated at roughly 30 percent for cereals, 40–50 percent for root crops, fruits and vegetables; 20 percent for oil seeds; and 30 percent for fish.
3. The transition to a sustainable future requires fundamental changes in the governance of food and agriculture and an equitable sharing of the transition costs and benefits
Priority areas for policy action identified by FAO in this policy paper include:
Establish and protect rights to resources, especially for the most vulnerable
Incorporate incentives for sustainable consumption and production into food systems
Promote fair and well-functioning agricultural and food markets
Reduce risk and increase the resilience of the most vulnerable
Invest public resources in essential public goods, including innovation and infrastructure
The challenge for participants at Rio+20 and beyond is to support better decisions by building more inclusive and effective governance for agricultural and food systems.
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Ahead of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), Farming First is co-organising the fourth Agriculture and Rural Development Day in Rio de Janeiro, which takes place on 18th June. The UNSCD (or Rio+20) marks the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), in Rio de Janeiro and will bring together world leaders, along with thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, NGOs and other groups, to shape how we can reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection to get to “the future we want.”
Agriculture and Rural Development Day is organised by a consortium of global agricultural organisations, including Farming First, the Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to name a few. Policymakers, farmers, scientists and development organisations are all represented within the ARDD consortium, embodying their vision for collaboration as a solution to food security.
In previous years, Agriculture and Rural Development Day has been held annually in conjunction with the United Nations climate negotiations (COP 15, 16 and 17 in Copenhagen, Cancun and Durban respectively) and seeks to ensure that sustainable agriculture, which is inextricably linked to both climate change and a green economy, features prominently in discussions as well as the outcome documents of the conference. Following the last Agriculture and Rural Development Day in Durban, the UNFCCC agreed to consider the adoption of a work plan to support research on climate change mitigation and adaptation science and policy in agriculture, as well as country level readiness and capacity planning. Back in March, Farming First submitted its views to the UNFCCC Secretariat on how these agriculture-related issues might be prioritised, to be discussed by the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) at its 36th Session later this month.
The goal for ARDD at Rio+20 is to ensure that the vision for a sustainable green economy includes clear steps for building a sustainable food system, as sustainable intensification of food production as been highlighted as a priority area in the zero draft for the conference.
During the morning session of Agriculture and Rural Development Day, entitled “Lessons in Sustainable Landscapes and Livelihoods”, attendees will see keynote presentations from leaders in sustainable agriculture, as well as a panel discussion on how agriculture will address the Rio+20 challenges. A number of Learning events will also take place in the morning, sharing successful, concrete examples of best agricultural practices from around the world. These include:
Livestock Plus. How can sustainable intensification of livestock production through improved feeding practices help realize livelihood AND environmental benefits?
How can developing countries advance towards a more sustainable agriculture? A concrete experience on development of a science-based tropical agriculture in Brazil
Achieving and measuring sustainable intensification: the role of technology, best practices and partnerships
The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) will host an afternoon programme, entitled “Science of a Food Secure Future”. During the afternoon, groups will hold parallel events on a range of issues such as addressing gender equity in access to natural resources, household nutrition security, sustainable intensification of small scale farming and strategic partnership.