The ‘Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development in Mountain regions’ project (SARD-M) organized a meeting on “Food Security through additional income generation: remuneration of positive externalities”, held on 27th May 2009 at FAO Headquarter in Rome. The aim of this 2 hour workshop was to open the project to new member states, as donors or beneficiaries: 24 FAO member states representatives attended, including the project initiators, France and Switzerland.
In fact about 34% of rural mountain people are submitted to food insecurity. At the global level, the new challenge for 2050 include ways in which food security can be ensured for 9 billion people in a context of energy and food price rising, without further depleting the earth’s natural resources.
Furthermore, mountain ecosystems (covering 25% of earth surface) are particularly sensitive to climate change and require special efforts for adaptation. Agriculture is a key area for Green House Gases emission and offers a large potential for climate change mitigation (Schmidhuber January 2009). Moreover, these ecosystems are a significant source of public goods / Positive Externalities such as clean air, biodiversity, quality products and landscapes, which are essential for mankind. About half of world’s fresh water comes from mountain regions! In this perspective marginal areas such as mountain regions have to be kept into the world market to contribute ensuring food security.
In an effort to tackle these issues, the SARD-M project proposes to facilitate additional income generation by Remunerating these Positive Externalities (RPE); Carbon sequestration may also be taken on board by the SARD-M project, and COP 15 Climate Change may open new perspectives, giving new impetus.
Having implemented some pilot projects and assessed specific relevant policies, institutions and processes, SARD-M will prepare a collection of practical guidelines for decision makers, to assist them in RPE with new economic mechanisms for payments transfers. This would be in line with the Millennium Development Goals 1, 7 & 8 and would contribute to achieving chapter 13 & chapter 14 of Agenda 21, in conformity with world trade agreements.
During the discussions, the attending representatives expressed a strong interest in the issues which were raised, and agreed with the approaches advocated and presented. They have been invited to join France and Switzerland in supporting the project.