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This blog post was written by Mr. Abdulrahman A. Hussain Jawahery President of the Gulf Petrochemical Industries Co (GPIC) and Vice-President for Sustainable Development for the International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA).
In the aftermath of Rio+20, and bearing the legacy of the Millennium Development Goals, the Sustainable Development Goals aim to generate a multidimensional approach for our global future. This new set of goals has the challenging mission to guide policy-makers, private industry, NGOs, national and regional governments in the measures they devise in the upcoming years; measures that are aimed at bringing about a healthier world, one in which wealth and resources are equitably distributed both between countries and within them, while environmental security and biodiversity are safeguarded.
Public engagement is unprecedented. The response to calls for submitting proposals, providing research and voicing concerns has been immense, aided by social media and modern communication platforms. All this commotion is an encouraging sign. A testament to the collective efforts which everyone – big and small, rich and poor – is making towards an overarching goal: a better and more sustainable future.
I believe that the new goals ought to be aspirational, ambitious, yet realistic. They should inspire all actors to find innovative ways of leading to their accomplishment, while allowing for the achievement of intermediary goals, which constitute check points along the steps to the top of the pyramid. Bearing this in mind, the Farming First coalition is working actively to make sure that agriculture remains at the top of the agenda and proposes two goals relating to agriculture and food security.
The first one is to eradicate hunger and malnutrition by 2025, because it can be done in our lifetime and because the realisation of this goal would have immense repercussions on most other goals aiming at overall economic development. Farmers and rural dwellers tend to make up the poorest fringes of the population worldwide, while at the same time producing the food we eat. By bringing farmers out of poverty we can achieve goals relating to gender equality, education, health, economic opportunities. The Farming First coalition and the fertilizer industry support the Zero Hunger Challenge, which advocates access to food all year round, eliminating stunted growth in children through improving the nutrient quality of food, sustainability across all food systems, increase in smallholder productivity and income and zero food waste or loss.
The second goal we propose is the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices, to plan for the agriculture of the future by raising agricultural productivity while protecting the environment. Countries and farmers will transition to more sustainable practices if their specific circumstances and needs are considered by policy-makers. Special attention should be given to women and to indigenous groups. The Farming First coalition and the fertilizer industry support the concept of sustainable intensification: producing more food per unit of land, while preserving or even enhancing soil quality, using less water and adopting integrated measures to reduce crop deterioration. The solutions will differ by region and by landscape to address the diversity of agricultural systems, farming practices and technologies, as well as benchmarks for balanced diets. In this context, such a transition to sustainable intensification cannot happen if we do not close the efficiency gap between farmers in the developing and the developed countries. Access to quality inputs and the knowledge to use them are essential to close this gap.
As a private sector representative, I can confidently state that returns on investment in sustainability are high and readily quantifiable. They translate into better resource allocation, a lower incidence of accidents and greater overall performance. My company, Gulf Petrochemicals Industries Co. (GPIC) has invested in its employees, its surrounding communities and its natural environment. Ever since becoming President of the company, I have been advocating tirelessly for the adoption of a culture of safety, health and environmental awareness. This is sustained by training our employees and providing them with skills, competencies and empowerment to continuously improve, as they are the key to the success in implanting HSE best practices. As a result, our production site now hosts; a fish farm where 100,000 sea bream fish are released into the deep sea annually to enrich marine life, a bird sanctuary which hosts over 30,000 birds with a record of 78 different species, and a number of gardens specifically made to plant rare indigenous, aromatic and desert plants to form a case study for educating school students on environmental natural presentation.
We have worked extensively with UNEP to demonstrate that industrial development can be carried out in a manner that is respectful to both communities and the environment. In our commitment to mitigate climate change risks, we commissioned the first carbon dioxide recovery plant in the Middle East, in 2010. Our efforts at GPIC have not gone unnoticed. GPIC’s pioneer sustainable development program received recognition from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) UK, which awarded us the Sir George Earl Trophy. We are also one of only two organizations in the Arabian Gulf region to receive the accolade of the Robert Campbell Award from the US National Safety Council, for achievement in EHS. This not only honors us, it also motivates us to continue to strive to surpass our targets in sustainable development.
Both my professional experience and my personal commitment to sustainable development have strengthened my conviction that private sector involvement is imperative to improving the status quo. Therefore, in the words of UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon, I urge all leaders in the corporate world “to deliver value not just financially – but also in social, environmental and ethical terms.”
Let’s not be limited by challenges and difficulties, but be motivated by possibilities!
About the author:
Mr. Abdulrahman A. Hussain JAWAHERY is a Farming First spokesperson. He is President of the Gulf Petrochemical Industries Co (GPIC) and Vice-President for Sustainable Development for the International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA). Mr. Jawahery is actively involved in the post-2015 and SDG process on behalf of the fertilizer industry. His company, GPIC, is a Methanol, Ammonia and a Nitrogen Fertilizer manufacturer company based in Bahrain with an annual production of 1.5 million tons of Petrochemical and Fertilizer products to supply the world’s farmers. Mr. Jawahery is a Chartered Chemical Engineer with a BSc and an MSc from the UK. An acclaimed environmental champion, he holds numerous positions within renowned scientific and environmental organizations throughout the UK, US and Bahrain.
As the global community increasingly focuses on the post-2015 development agenda, the recent Report from the High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda has underlined the central role that agriculture will play in achieving sustainable development and food and nutrition security.
Established by the UN Secretary General in May 2012, the High Level Panel is mandated with providing recommendations on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The publication of its final report, “A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies through Sustainable Development” on 30th May 2013, sets out “a universal agenda to eradicate extreme poverty from the face of the earth by 2030, and deliver on the promise of sustainable development”.
In this blog, we offer an overview of key outcomes of this critical High Level Panel Report and Farming First’s response to it, in line with our recently published position paper.
Report from the High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda
The Report offers a clear outline of what should be expected for the future of sustainable development, outlining a set of 12 goals and 54 measurable targets. These goals and targets build on the framework set-out by the Millennium Development Goals and go beyond health, education and poverty to focus on areas now seen as central to achieving sustainable development: infrastructure, property rights, governance, personal safety, an end to violence and discrimination, and gender equality.
The Panel agreed that five “transformational shifts” would be needed to achieve these goals:
• Leave No One Behind: end poverty by 2030;
• Putting sustainable development at the core of action – no longer separating the environmental and development agendas;
• Transforming economies for jobs and inclusive growth – putting focus on promoting jobs through business and entrepreneurship, infrastructure, education and skills, and trade;
• Building peace and effective, open and accountable institutions for all through responsive and legitimate institutions;
• Forging a new Global Partnership that is not just about national governments but also includes businesses, community groups, donors, local governments and others, working together to eradicate extreme poverty.
Forging new partnerships is crucial to the effective role of agriculture and achieving sustainable development, with Farming First acting to bring together all stakeholders in the agricultural sector to lay the foundations for future development.
Recognising the role of agriculture
In our key messages for the post-2015 development agenda, Farming First has underlined the importance of agriculture and food and nutrition security as being central to realising the post-2015 agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Farming First is encouraged to see that both the specific goals detailed in the Report and the transitional shifts underline the key role of agriculture in achieving Goal 5: Ensure Food Security and Good Nutrition, with specific targets:
• 5a. End hunger and protect the right of everyone to have access to sufficient, safe, affordable, and nutritious food
• 5b. Reduce stunting by x%, wasting by y%, and anemia by z% for all children under five
• 5c. Increase agricultural productivity by x%, with a focus on sustainably increasing smallholder yields and access to irrigation
• 5d. Adopt sustainable agricultural, ocean and freshwater fishery practices and rebuild designated fish stocks to sustainable levels
• 5e. Reduce postharvest loss and food waste by x%
The Report acknowledges the need to invest in agriculture, stating:
“Moving to large-scale sustainable agriculture, while increasing the volume of food produced, is the great challenge we face. It can be done, but this will require a dramatic shift. Agriculture has for many years suffered from neglect. Too few policies are in place to improve rural livelihoods. Too little investment has been made in research…Specific investments, interventions and policies can deliver results. Agricultural investments reduce poverty more than investments in any other sector. In developed countries, agricultural research provides returns of 20 to 80 per cent – a great investment in any economy.”
Ensuring Food Security and Good Nutrition can only be achieved if agriculture becomes a part of the Sustainable Development Goals. As the report clearly states:
“Food security is not just about getting everyone enough nutritious food. It is also about access, ending waste, moving toward sustainable, efficient production and consumption.”
In other words, the sustainable production of enough nutritious food requires investing in agriculture.
Farming First Positioning Document on the Post-2015 agenda
In May, Farming First outlined its five key messages for the post-2015 development agenda and we are encouraged to see the movement towards recognition of the role of agriculture.
Before the Panel released its final report, Farming First published a positioning document on the post-2015 agenda highlighting that there should be two goals dealing with agriculture and nutrition:
Goal 1: SDG: Eradicating hunger and malnutrition
Why? Because “We can end hunger, extreme poverty and the worst impacts of malnutrition and food security within a generation” (Madrid Consultation FAO-WFP, 4 April 2013).
Goal 2: SDG: Adoption of sustainable agricultural practices
Why? Because this goal should recognise and support a wide diversity of agricultural systems, farming practices, technologies and farmers, as well as balanced diets. It should also recognise that sustainable agriculture differs by landscapes. Thus, countries and farmers need flexibility and a variety of solutions.
We also emphasised that:
• Agriculture and food and nutrition security are central to realising the post-2015 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals;
• Farmers in the developing world can become as productive as those in the developed world —while supporting continuous gains in sustainability for all;
• It is imperative to re-commit to empower farmers via support to knowledge sharing and deliver accessible, quality extension in farm management and marketing;
• Agriculture requires supportive frameworks for investment in infrastructure and inclusive markets;
• A greater focus is necessary on working with farmers and other actors across the value chain to address not just food waste but food loss.
Farming First aims to play an important role in the debates surrounding the post-2015 agenda and SDGs in order to bring together the collective voice of farmers, scientists and businesses working in agriculture. Farmers must be at the heart of solutions provided to achieve sustainable development, with investments in agriculture having no parallels with other sectors in terms of the potential to promote human development and sustainable economic growth.
To read our position statement in full, see here.
Ensuring food security in China, the world’s most populous nation, requires concerted efforts by the central and local governments as well as the private sector. From raising farm productivity to improving food safety, steering China’s millions of farmers towards agricultural technology is key in achieving self-sufficiency.
Since 2003, CropLife China has joined with the National Agri-Technical Extension and Service Center (NATESC) of the Ministry of Agriculture and multiple provincial plant protection stations to help farmers raise yields in a sustainable manner. Programs on sustainable agriculture include the responsible use of crop protection products, secure storage and environmental protection through the management of empty containers.
In Xinglong, in the province of Sichuan, the program is a unique partnership between the town government, plant protection stations run by agriculture departments, the local women’s farmer group and CropLife China. It covers an area of up to 2,000 mu, or 133 hectares, promoting pest prevention and control technologies including resistant varieties, cultivation methods, biodiversity and responsible use of pesticides.
Working with four other people, 40-year-old Wang Jian farms about a quarter of a hectare of land, including several greenhouses. He has participated in several training programs on responsible pesticide use. After 20 years of farming, he sees the difference effective crop protection products can make.
Now we use environmentally friendly and more effective pesticides, which cost less and increase our income.
To date, 100,000 farmers in areas such as Guanghan, Zengcheng and Shiping have benefited from the training. Each year, CropLife China and its partners also train some 80 doctors to identify, treat and prevent future cases of pesticide- related incidents.
Visit www.croplifeasia.org to learn more about work towards sustainable agriculture across the Asia Pacific region.