Blog / 2 November 2010

Down2Earth - Day 2

Down2Earth - Day 2

Some observations from yesterday's presentations:

Kanayo Felix Mwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) began his speech stating that poor people deal everyday with the challenges of agriculture, food and climate change and not with official statistics and growth numbers. He advocated for a new green agro-ecological revolution that:
* Includes small-scale farmers as partners, therefore land tenure issues must be solved, low input crops must the focus of attention and consequently ecological product chains
* Is evergreen, therefore the focus must be on agro-forestry, PES and scaling up successful agro-ecological approaches
* Must be knowledge-based and community-led, as top-down knowledge does not work and local and traditional knowledge is the key to sustainable natural resource management.

Louise O. Fresco, Professor Sustainable Development in International Perspective at the University of Amsterdam stressed that there should not be too much on climate change when addressing agriculture, as the challenges the world faces today would not be solved if the climate was not changing. However, climate change aggravates the global food security, poverty and environmental degradation. It is all about global change: human induced change on water, soil, nutrients and climate.

Robert Watson, Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia emphasised that agriculture is more than productivity, it is multifunctional and multi-sectoral and to achieve food security, it is critical that we put the small-scale farmer in the middle. People need to get affordable food and at the same time, the farmers need fair prices while seeking to sustainable and climate proof agriculture. To fulfil our food and energy needs while conserving current natural resources, intensification of agriculture, improvement of tenure systems, access to financing services for small-scale farmers, feminisation of agricultural extension services and ending of distorting trade systems are crucial elements.

Jeremy Hobbs, executive director of Oxfam International critiqued the new Dutch government as The Netherlands has a track record on international cooperation, women's and human rights and as a consequence of the plans of the new government The Netherlands might loose this position.

Today, I got very enthusiastic about the presentation of Dennis Garrity, the Director General of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). He stated that there is a chronic underinvestment in agriculture research. He challenged the audience to imagine farmers that are producing their food crops under a canopy of trees that help the soils and crops, and that vision succeeded in smiles on the faces present. He displayed successful cases of evergreen agriculture (also known as or agro-forestry :) ). He ended his speech with: 'Small-scale farmers can green and cool the planet, let's given them our support!'

Another remarkable presentation was done by Ralph Ashton, convenor of the Terrestrial Carbon Group, which is an international group of specialists from science, economics, and public policy. A Rubik's cube and a woman who swallowed a horse played illustrative roles in his presentation showing that the solution for the challenges that the world is facing is not to focus on only one side of the cube and that solutions should not cause bigger problems. He presented his Roadmap for Action, consisting of 7 elements and a clear timeframe, stressing that NO new institutions needed to be established and that we have all the ingredients.

The foreseen outcome of this conference is a Roadmap for Action. Although this roadmap is going to be discussed by ministers, it will not be a negotiated document. Therefore, it is not (yet) clear in which process this Roadmap will fit in. Because of this unclarity is prevailing, CSOs present at the conference have defined 10 clear cut steppingstones for the Roadmap of Action that will be handed over with courtesy to government delegates.

Tomorrow more about this!

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