FAO representatives, collaborating closely with member states, UN-system partners, and other stakeholders, seized the opportunity to convey the importance of embedding forestry, mountains, fisheries and oceans; and the role of rural women into the post-2015 agenda during a week-long meeting of the Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals. The meeting took place earlier this month at the UN in New York.
Unsustainable management practices are exposing life-sustaining natural resources to “severe stresses”, warned FAO’s ADG for Forestry, Mr Rojas-Briales. These included “inadequate land use planning, weak governance, scant financial investment, and worsening climate change”, explained Rojas-Briales.
Green Growth, Blue Growth
“Major changes in how the planet’s marine resources are managed and used are needed to bolster global food security and ensure the wellbeing of coastal and island countries,” urged Arni Mathiesen, FAO ADG for Fisheries and Aquaculture at a side-event hosted by the German Mission and organized jointly by FAO, the World Bank, the Small Island Developing States group of nations, Iceland and New Zealand.
As with forests, the stakes are high, observed Mr. Mathiesen. The global fish and seafood trade, valued at $130 billion annually, employs many millions; its role in providing protein (fisheries and aquaculture account for nearly 20% of human animal protein consumption) and other critical nutrients, such as Omega-3 fatty acids, is no less essential.
“Serious threats to [ocean] health, from pollution, overfishing, altered weather, and rising sea levels, must be tackled in earnest,” he said. Encouragingly FAO’s new Blue Growth initiative is designed to do precisely this, said Mathiesen.
Rural women, agents of change
A side-event, Focusing on Rural Women in an SDG Framework (co-organized by FAO, IFAD, and WFP), saw CFS Chair Verburg call for “fully integrating the needs of rural women into the heart of the SDGs”.
“The data,” she stated, “convincingly demonstrates that women in rural areas are just as efficient as their male counterparts, but suffer from lower levels of access to productive resources and opportunity.” One consequence of such gender inequality, pointed out the Dutch Ambassador, is visible in the disproportionate damage inflicted by poverty, hunger, and malnutrition on rural women.
In terms of the conclusion of the SDG deliberations, the UN General Assembly is slated to announce a preliminary list of goals and targets during its high-level meetings in September.