SAFE Nutritious Food & Sustainaable Agriculture
A summary of arguments by Stabinsky, D. and Lim L.C., ‘Ecological agriculture, climate resilience and a roadmap to get there’, is a consistent focus on sustainability (as versus a politically correct or convenient concept of sustainability) prepared for the third session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals held from Wednesday, 22, to Friday, 24 May 2013 at the UN headquarters in New York. The formulation of SDGs was one of the major agreed actions carried forward from the June 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development.
The sessions addressed the following clusters of issues:
Food security and nutrition, sustainable agriculture; and drought, desertification, land degradation and water and sanitation.
Programme of Work for 2013-2014 adopted will facilitate the formulation of the SDGs coverring:
The background documents for this is at: http://www.twnside.org.sg/title/end/pdf/end14.pdf
Important elements for consideration: Food Security and Nutrition, and Sustainable Agriculture
1. Increase investment in sustainable agriculture
Sustainable agriculture practices contribute to food security and climate resilience. Governments should specifically reorient agriculture policies and significantly increase funding to support biodiverse, sustainable agriculture, as recommended by the International Assessment on Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD). In The Future We Want, which is the outcome document of the Rio+20 Conference, paragraphs 110-113 emphasize the importance of sustainable agriculture and the need for increased investment in sustainable agricultural practices. Particularly, in paragraph 111, the need to “maintain natural ecological processes that support food production systems” is recognized, which is a nod towards agro-ec ological principles.
2. Focus on smallholder farmers and their practices
Agriculture is the most important sector in many developing countries and is central to the survival of hundreds of millions of people. Most agricultural production in these countries involves small land holdings, mainly producing for self-consumption. Women are the key agricultural producers and providers. Hence agriculture is critical for food and livelihood security, and for the approximately 500 million smallholder households, totaling 1.5 billion people, and living on smallholdings of two hectares of land or less. Smallholdings account for 85 percent of the world’s farms.
The role and needs of rural communities are recognized and rural development emphasized in paragraph 109 of The Future We Want, including the need for enhanced access by small producers to credit, markets, secure land tenure and other services. Paragraph 109 also stresses the importance of traditional sustainable agricultural practices, including traditional seed supply systems, including for many indigenous peoples and local communities. This is important in light of the threats that undermine and marginalize such systems and the increasing takeover of the seed supply by a few large multinational corporations.
3. Dismantle perverse incentives and subsidies that promote unsustainable agriculture
Current agriculture policies are geared to promoting conventional agriculture practices that are unsustainable. Perverse incentives, including those perpetuated under the international trade regime governed by the World Trade Organization and bilateral free trade agreements, entrench this unsustainable system. Agricultural incentives and subsidies therefore need to be redirected away from destructive monocultures and harmful inputs, towards sustainable agriculture practices of the small-farm sector. These need to be phased out in a fair and equitable manner, taking into account the impact on small farmers in developing countries.
4. Implement a research and knowledge-sharing agenda towards sustainable agriculture
Paragraph 114 of The Future We Want resolves to enhance agricultural research, extension services, training and education to improve productivity and sustainability. National and global agricultural research agendas have been however dominated by conventional agriculture approaches and the promise of new technologies. Sustainable agriculture has been sidelined, yet it has thrived and has proven successful despite the lack of public support. Research and development efforts must be refocused towards sustainable agriculture, while at the same time strengthening existing farmer knowledge and innovation. Moreover, current agriculture research is dominated by the private sector, which focuses on crops and technologies from which they stand to profit most. This perpetuates industrial, input-dependent agriculture, rather than solutions for the challenges facing developing-country farm ers.
5. Build supportive global partnerships
A range of international institutions can make positive contributions by supporting and enabling the adoption of sustainable agriculture. These institutions should support the range of efforts to be undertaken at national and regional levels, and cooperate and coordinate efforts to mobilize necessary resources at the international level. Public financing and transfer of appropriate technologies by developed countries are needed not only for the adoption of sustainable agriculture but also to put in place the required infrastructure, communications and other enabling conditions. Furthermore, trade commitments made at the multilateral and bilateral levels must provide developing countries enough policy space to enable support for the agriculture sector, expansion of local food production, and effective instruments to provide for local and household food security, farmers’ livelihoods and rural development needs. This is needed before farmers in developing countries can start investing in sustainable agriculture. A universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system that will promote agricultural and rural development in developing countries and contribute to world food security is reaffirmed in paragraph 118 of The Future We Want.
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