Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Greening the Economy through Agriculture: The FAO message for the Rio +20 Conference in 2012 (20)

Post by Stéphane Jost, Nadejda Loumbeva and Domitille Vallee - FAO

Stéphane Jost from FAO gave an overview of the preparation process for the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Developement and the FAO position on greening the world economies to adapt to global and local climatic changes and achieve sustainable development on our planet. 'It is not possible to green the economies without agriculture' Stéphane said. In the framework of its “Greening the Economy with Agriculture” initiative, FAO analysed the linkages between the four pillars of food security (availability, access, stability and utilization) and the four pillars of sustainable development, i.e., environmental, economic, social and governance. There should be a focus on more sustainable and low foot-print production systems, ecological certification, support to small holders and promotion of sustainable diets, amongst others. In the second half of the session, the group brainstormed answers to two questions: 1. Is the FAO message complete? How does it resonate with stakeholders? and 2. What opportunities for collaboration are there? The process framework followed was rotating peer assist.

The groups insisted on the importance to think of a green agriculture = sustainable agriculture that would imply:
  • diversity - crops, seeds, farming systems etc, building resilience in the system, which goes against the mono-cropping; food systems approaches in a growingly urban economy (from producer to consumer – looking at the entire value chains) : the food processing and marketing are as important as the production ; the food waste issues should be tackled
  • global mechanisms of natural resources management - enabling sustainable management of land and water in particular - This implies to increase linkages across multiple players, in particular various ministries (agriculture, forestry, fisheries, environment,...);
  • equity : the poorer, and most vulnerable should take part in problem-solutions at their levels;
  • working at various scales: countries are different and there is no blanket agriculture solution - urban, industrial and rural economies need different approaches
  • insisting on education as an important way to promote changes in consumption habits and behaviours related for instance to waste management.
  • local authority have an important role to play, for instance through procurement policies - which do not imply new rules or legislations - (example of provision of organic products for school feeding in Italy);
  • several opportunities can be used to promote this message on the importance of agriculture for the green economy, as for instance the Farmers' Forum to be organised by IFAD in early 2012.

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