Stories tagged: sustainable

UN High-Level Political Forum

9th – 18th July

The meeting of the high-level political forum on sustainable development in 2018 convened under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council will be held from Monday, 9 July, to Wednesday, 18 July 2018; including the three-day ministerial meeting of the forum from Monday, 16 July, to Wednesday, 18 July 2018.

Goals 6, 7, 11, 12, 15 & 17 will all undergo a review process.

The theme will be “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies”.



Hashtags: #HLPF2018, #GlobalGoals

The Agri-Food Sector – A Catalyst for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth in Africa

Hosted by the Government of Rwanda, in collaboration with the FAO and Rabobank, the AgriBusiness Forum is the largest pan-African AgriBusiness Forum held on African soil annually which aims at strengthening the Agri-Food sector in Africa, by encouraging partnerships, exchanging best practices and attracting investments. From October 6 – 9 the event will provide a platform to discuss and present successful projects and business models. This year, the Forum will focus on “The Agri-Food Sector: A Catalyst for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth in Africa”.

For more information visit:

Water and food security: where to next?

As World Water Week (see our previous blog) came to a close at the end of last Friday in Stockholm, some of the standout themes that emerged during the week were the water-food-energy nexus, partnerships, tools, and data.

The nexus concept was established in Bonn, Germany, in 2011 when experts met to discuss the need for a holistic approach to the three elements of food, water and energy. With 70% of the earth’s water being used within agriculture it is clear that the connection between food and water is vital in sustaining our resources.

World Water Week put the nexus concept at the forefront of sustainability discussions but the real success of the nexus concept will be in the actions that follow, particularly at a policy level. Projects are already being implemented that not only demonstrate understanding of the link between the three issues, but also recognise that we can no longer tackle resource issues on an individual basis. Partnerships were highlighted as key to addressing some of the bigger water challenges facing business, government and communities.

Following on from the discussions in Stockholm, Guardian Sustainable Business asked a panel of experts what they believed were the key themes and outcomes of World Water Week. The online debate, called Water and food security: where to next?, in association with brewing company SABMiller, discussed the outcomes of World Water Week including the nexus concept and the role of the consumer in water sustainability.

Members of the panel included Conor Linstead, Senior Water Policy Advisor at WWF, Greg Koch, Managing Director of the global stewardship Coca Cola, and Andy Wales, Head of Sustainable Development at SABMiller.

To initiate the debate panel, members were asked what they believed to be the common themes that came out during the week. Marielle Welkel, Director of Corporate Freshwater Strategies at Conservation International said:

The food-water-energy nexus was a huge theme of discussion that came up time and again throughout World Water Week. Although there is ever-increasing focus on collaboration (e.g. NGO-private sector, across the agricultural value chain from field to market), it was clear that more needs to be done.

Andy Wales noted the necessity for governments to begin thinking holistically:

Understanding the resource ‘nexus’ is critical to green growth. Government departments work in silos – often with water, food and energy policy set with no or little regard to each other. Government departments must start working together and that is the next crucial piece of progress.

The panel were later asked how they thought we best combine food production and environmental protection. Kari Vigerstol, hydrologist on the global freshwater team at Nature Conservancy, suggested the key is ‘sustainable intensification’:

The idea here is that we find ways to grow more food with the resources that we have. There is a lot of room to improve production on the lands that are already being cultivated through improved agricultural techniques, technology and innovation. The potential for this improvement varies throughout the world. For example, there is a much greater potential to improve agricultural production efficiencies in Sub-Saharan Africa than in the U.S. or Western Europe. However, I do think that we can still do a much better job of using water more efficiently in almost all areas around the world.

The panel concluded the discussion by adding their own thoughts about what people can do to make a difference. Conor Linsted identified the need to increase people’s awareness of their ‘water footprint’:

A good first step is to understand your personal water footprint and use it to guide your personal purchasing decision and dietary choices, but bearing in mind that where the water comes from is at least as important as the size of the footprint, using a cubic metre of water from Scotland in winter does not have the same impact as the same volume taken from a river in a water stressed area in the dry season.

Greg Koch also replied:

First, seek to understand what watershed your water actually comes from — not the reservoir, well or treatment works but the actual watershed. Then find out what is stressing the water quality and quantity. Groups like The Nature Conservancy, WWF, Conservation International and many local organizations may well have a program where you can lend your voice to their actions and even volunteer in field projects. Once you know the issues, speak to your government representative and make your views known.

 Read Farming First’s position on water.







Farming First Launches New Guide to Food Security Initiatives Ahead of G8 Summit

Download Farming First’s Guide to Food Security Initiatives

foodsecurity_guideFood security is an immediate and future priority for all countries worldwide. Since the food crisis erupted in 2008, a large number of global and regional food security initiatives have been launched or strengthened in response. While these developments are welcome, improving policy and implementation coherence is essential to ensure programmes have the desired impacts.

As we move towards action on these food security policies, Farming First urges policymakers to:

  1. promote a clear joint focus on a common goal for food security at the global level through policy and operational coherence
  2. encourage increased transparency on how much of pledged funding has been committed and to what types of programmes
  3. engage a wide range of stakeholders to ensure that efforts are coordinated, clear, collaborative and ultimately successful.

map_final_smallReturning farmers to the centre of policy decisions is fundamental to sustainable development. Governments, businesses, scientists and civil society groups must focus attention on the source of our food security. Women farmers should become specially targeted recipients because of their vital roles in the agricultural workforce,
household food procurement and preparation, and family unit support.

Productivity levels in most developing countries have to be raised exponentially while considering environmental sustainability. Policies encouraging investment in developing countries’ agricultural sectors should be supported.

Governments should invest in their agricultural sectors and devise long-term agricultural development strategies supporting the development of local agricultural markets and farmers’ ability to answer market demands.

Local production should also be stimulated by providing farmers with the technology, the knowledge and the adequate financial services they need.

Farming First Release: Innovation and Incentives for Farmers Needed to Protect World’s Biodiversity

Farming First Press Release in Recognition of International Day of Biological Diversity:

Farming First calls on governments to enable agricultural innovation and empower farmers to safeguard the world’s biodiversity while increasing global food production.

Sustainable agricultural production needs to be achieved through both accelerated research programmes and broader uptake of existing technologies by farmers.   Public-private partnerships are key to identifying and addressing these innovation gaps as well as disseminating effective agricultural tools and technologies to farmers.

Ajay Vashee, President of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP) says:

Government leaders need to recognise how interconnected agriculture and biodiversity protection are. Today’s farmers are the true stewards of our global ecosystem.

The twin challenge of conserving ecosystems while ensuring future food security means that the role of the farmer is more crucial than ever. With 2.3 billion more mouths to feed by 2050, food production must increase by 70 per cent, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation, despite the threats of climate change and limited availability of natural resources.

Like biodiversity, agriculture benefits from fertile soils, fresh water and natural predators, and farmers can also play a role in maintaining natural habitats and other ecosystem services.

Luc Maene, Director General of the International Fertilizer Industry Assocation says:

Farmers around the world are facing competing pressures to grow more food while preserving the world’s biodiversity.  To succeed, agriculture and biodiversity conservation efforts must walk hand in hand.

The Farming First coalition supports the following principles for protecting biodiversity through agriculture:

  • Safeguarding natural resources through sustainable agricultural practices such as sustainable use of land, water and energy resources, conservation agriculture, cultivation of local species and giving value to marginal areas such as wetlands and forests.
  • Sharing knowledge of agriculture’s role in preserving biodiversity through stewardship programmes for farmers and government mechanisms for incentivising biodiversity-friendly practices.
  • Building local access to agricultural tools and infrastructure which help protect biodiversity, such as multi-cropping systems or crop rotation, without jeopardising agricultural production.
  • Protecting harvests by building storage facilities and transport mechanisms, whilst providing support to farmers in managing weather variations and minimising the amount of yield lost to prevent further expansion in land used for agriculture.
  • Enabling access to markets via payment incentives for ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration, reforestation, measures against desertification and other sustainable land management practices as well as developing and supporting markets for underutilised local species which encourage local biodiversity.
  • Prioritising research imperatives by addressing both farmers’ needs and the specificities of local ecosystems as well as factoring in farmers’ local expertise and providing resources such as seed banks.

New Initiative to Boost Agriculture Prioritises Public-Private Partnerships

Picture 3At the World Economic Forum 2010, a new initiative to accelerate growth in sustainable agriculture was announced.  The project, ‘A New Vision for Agriculture’ aims to enhance public-private collaborations among stakeholders throughout the industry.

Indicating the role of agricultural investment in the recovery of the global economy, the initiative was set up by industry, governments, multilateral organisations and civil society.  A Project Board from the World Economic Forum will provide leadership to the initiative and the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Food Security will also offer guidance, whose global leaders will help to provide a network on which to build partnerships.

The initiative aims to develop a sustainable agri-food system that will be able to provide enough food for the projected 9.2 billion people in 2050 whilst meeting environmental sustainability goals.  Recognising the extent to which action needs to be taken, the initiative will focus itself on bringing together the capacities of both the public and private sectors to address issues such as:

  • Increasing investment in agriculture.
  • Improving stewardship practices of safeguarding natural resources.
  • Building infrastructure and improving policies to enable farmers’ access to markets.
  • Maximising the economic growth opportunities provided by agriculture.

‘A New Vision for Agriculture’ intends to provide a platform for key high-level leaders to share insights, offer advice and recommendations and support existing initiatives that show promising opportunities for collaboration and scaling.