CropLife International
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: CropLife International
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Infrastructure (3 hits),

Full Submission

Input into Rio+20 Zero

As a member of the Business Action for Sustainable Development (BASD), the International Agri-Food Network, and of the Farming First coalition, CropLife International welcomes this opportunity to submit views regarding the outcome of Rio+20. This submission is largely focused on sustainable agriculture and food security as these are two challenges where CropLife International member companies can make positive contributions in the future. On the broader issues, CropLife International contributed to the BASD submission and supports the views of the broader business group as represented by BASD.

General Questions:

1. What are the expectations for the outcome of Rio+20, and what are the concrete proposals in this regard, including views on a possible structure of the Outcome document?
2. What are the comments, if any, on existing proposals: e.g., a green economy roadmap, framework for action, sustainable development goals, a revitalized global partnership for sustainable development, or others?
3. What are the views on implementation and on how to close the implementation gap, which relevant actors are envisaged as being involved (Governments, specific Major Groups, UN system, IFIs, etc.);

1. The Rio outcomes should be focused on: 1) identifying implementation gaps and the existing obstacles to implementation in achieving sustainable development, including obstacles behind the failure to achieve the MDGs; and 2) improving the UN system?s coordination mechanism to ensure it is best placed to assist countries in achieving those goals.

The outcomes should represent a focused and relatively short statement of priority areas for government actions and a renewed commitment to achieving the MDGs. It should not represent a top down set of specific actions or best practices but recognise the diversity of situation faced by people around the world and the corresponding need for locally-adapted solutions.

Central to the outcomes and the viability of the recommendations stemming from Rio+20 should be a clear endorsement of a vision of sustainability that is based on the notion on continuous improvement. Sustainability is a continuum in which all parties, globally and across sectors, have a role to play in improving their practices and minimising their impact to move towards greater sustainability. For this reason, it is important that recommendations and policy prescription avoid polarising groups and sectors but seek to establish incentives and a path towards improvement in sustainability along a continuum and across sectors and subsectors.

Rio+20 outcomes should also recognise the important contribution the private sector can make to poverty reduction and emphasise the need to improve regulatory frameworks, promote good governance and invest in innovation as key elements of a successful strategy for sustainable economic growth.

In addition, Rio+20 should build on the Johannesburg outcomes and explicitly support public-private partnerships as a key means of implementation for sustainable development goals. Inclusion of a commitment from the UN system to facilitate the establishment of partnerships; help share information about successful partnerships that can be replicated; and recognise partnerships as a best practice would be a positive outcome.

2. Where possible, the Rio outcome document should build on the consensus reached in previous sessions of the Commission on Sustainable Development and avoid duplicating work carried out in past years. With a view to agriculture and food security specifically, the outcome of CSD17 should be the reference point for Rio+20 language.

Regarding adopting new goals or measurements, concentrating on the already established MDGs, and enhancing the capacity to achieve those should be the main focus area. Measurement and data collection are a challenge for many countries, and it is important resources not be distracted from achieving existing goals by newly proposed statistical requirements (measurements and data).

Establishing a roadmap for progress could aid in establishing priorities without dictating how the goals should be achieved. A helpful roadmap would recognize that locally adapted approaches are essential for different regional conditions. It could also help provide a framework document for all the UN agencies involved to coordinate their work.

Public Private Partnerships, as well as other forms of partnerships (such as private-private) should be recognised as an important path forward to help achieve sustainable development and need to be encouraged.

3. The failure to achieve the MDGs and the obstacles that have contributed to the current condition should be the main priorities of the Rio+20 conference and its outcomes. Governments, with the support of the UN system and input from civil society and business and industry, will need to be the primary agents in addressing these gaps. The private sector can play an important role in helping spur economic growth and reduce poverty. However private sector investment and engagement is often most effective when there are sufficient and appropriate regulatory and governance mechanisms and adequate economic and political predictability ? elements which governments must put in place.

The Rio+20 outcome should learn from the past and focus on identifying implementation gaps like regulatory and governance obstacles to sustainable development, and establish priorities and paths (possibly a ?Roadmap?) to address them. It is likely that efforts to establish new global indicators or other measures will distract actors from advancing work toward solutions.

Questions from the Secretariat on Specific Elements:

1. Objective of the Conference: To secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assessing the progress to date and remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development and addressing new and emerging challenges. Contributions could include possible sectoral priorities (e.g. energy, food security and sustainable agriculture, technology transfer, water, oceans, sustainable urbanization, sustainable consumption and production, natural disaster preparedness and climate change adaptation, biodiversity, etc.) and sectoral initiatives that contribute to integrate the three pillars of sustainable development could be launched and endorsed at Rio+20.

2. Green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication: views regarding how green economy can be a means to achieve sustainable development in its three dimensions, and poverty eradication; what is its potential added value; experience to date, including what has worked and how to build upon success, what are the challenges and opportunities and how to address the challenges and seize opportunities, and possible elements of an agreement in outcome document on a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication The contribution below covers question 1 and 2 of the above ?specific elements?. 1-2. The term ?green economy? has been the subject of extensive discussion within the UN and other fora but it remains a term whose exact meaning is still contested. CropLife International, as part of the Business and Industry group, supports the definition put forward by the International Chamber of Commerce

The contribution below covers question 1 and 2 of the above ?specific elements?.

1-2. The term ?green economy? has been the subject of extensive discussion within the UN and other fora but it remains a term whose exact meaning is still contested. CropLife International, as part of the Business and Industry group, supports the definition put forward by the International Chamber of Commerce.

Nonetheless, it is important that Rio+20 efforts be focused on productive actions rather than semantics: how to move forward on the implementation of the MDGs and sustainable development more broadly should be the priority.

As a sector, agriculture plays a key role in supporting the economic development and well-being of societies. With a predicted 9 billion people by 2050, agricultural production will have to increase to meet new demands for food, feed, fuel and fibre. Agriculture must not only meet demand ? it must also do so while minimizing its environmental footprint and creating sustainable livelihoods for farmers and others along the supply chain.

In a time of food insecurity where the poorest people are most vulnerable, the world must proactively leverage the potential of agriculture to positively contribute to the triple goals of a secure food supply, poverty reduction through improved rural livelihoods, and environmental sustainability. Food sufficiency, quality, availability and environmental footprint must be central elements of any political commitment directed toward the green economy and poverty eradication. Rio+20 outcomes should reflect a continued and long term commitment to achieving food security through increased productivity in agriculture and sound natural resources management.

However, agriculture by nature represents a mosaic of solutions and practices, with no silver bullet and no single ?best practice? able to meet the needs of all farmers. In addition, sustainability is a moving target towards which farmers in different geographies and farming systems are already progressing and they will all need support to continuously improve. Whatever type of agriculture a farmer chooses to adopt, they must be supported by availability of tools, appropriate technology and knowledge, which can be employed under ?good agricultural practices? to optimise productivity, while minimising any adverse impact.

Rio+20 outcomes should thus be focused on the goal of sustainable intensification of food production, and support the role of knowledge, science and technology in achieving this goal. Rio+20 outcomes should endorse the notion that agriculture in a green economy means a broadbased, knowledge-centred approach to development through agriculture.

Comprehensive and practical approaches are needed to progress toward more sustainable agriculture, and the Farming First principles offer a view of how this may be achieved. In the context of discussions on the Green Economy, CropLife International supports the below Farming First recommendations for incorporating agriculture into the Rio+20 agenda on the ?green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication?.

1. Poverty reduction: Make agriculture a driver for poverty reduction by ensuring policies link producers to markets and enable value to be created throughout the supply chain to help create income opportunities and diversify rural activities.

2. Focus on enhancing sustainable production and productivity: the world will need to produce more with less to meet demand and reduce its environmental footprint. Increasing production and productivity should be a priority to protect natural resources while meeting demand for food, feed, fuel and fiber.

3. Invest in agricultural research and development, capacity building and knowledge sharing to close the uptake gap for existing tools; ensure new solutions are available for today and tomorrow by incentivising and supporting both public and private innovation.

CropLife International supports the outcomes of CSD17 on agriculture as the basis for any outcome on agriculture for Rio+20.

Reducing Poverty

Agriculture can be a potent driver for poverty reduction. The World Bank estimates that GDP growth from agriculture generates at least twice as much poverty reduction than any other sector. Currently 65 percent of people in developing countries are involved in agriculture, and 1.3 billion are small farmers with limited access to inputs, Infrastructure and markets. In countries where agriculture represents one of the primary livelihoods, concerted efforts to improve productivity through sustainable practices could change the lives of millions, raising incomes and addressing food security needs.

A dynamic and productive agriculture sector is also essential for the urban sector. In 2010, for the first time ever, more people lived in urban areas than in rural areas globally. Urban populations are dependent on the agricultural sector for most of their consumption, so improving local production and trade is crucial; but it also means a world of opportunities for farmers who can reach the urban market.

Making agriculture a dynamic sector will require the adoption of supportive frameworks and investment in Infrastructure and markets. Farmers need to be able to access markets at the local, regional and global level in order to sustain a livelihood from their activities. In some areas, this means improving access to transport, storage and market facilities. In Tanzania, US$2.4 billion of investment is being directed towards tripling the area?s agricultural output and maximising the trade potential of the Dar-esSalaam port for Tanzania?s neighbouring landlocked countries. Through the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania project (SAGCOT), both public and private sector organisations are supporting 20,000 smallholders to become commercial farmers to bring in annual revenues of an estimated US$1.4 billion into the country.

Access to weather and price information and risk management tools also helps farmers grow better crops, improve their production practices and sell at better prices. For example, in Zambia, the Zambia National Farmer?s Union market information system (ZNFU 455) allows farmers to find out the current prices being offered for a commodity by sending an SMS. They receive a response listing prices and buyer codes and they can then make an offer to the best buyer directly by using SMS. In Kenya, another scheme using cell phones offers banking services to farmers as well as support for a crop and input insurance scheme. Farmers can insure a kilogram of maize seed or of fertiliser against drought with an index insurance product. They buy the insurance at a local agro-dealer and receive confirmation of purchase and of any payout through the M-PESA service on their phones. Going forward, the use of ICTs could be expanded to supporting pest control and other extension services.

Enhancing sustainable productivity

Improving the footprint of agriculture while increasing production needs a concerted effort in two areas: first closing the uptake gap of existing best practices and technologies by focusing on capacity building and knowledge sharing and creating supportive public and private extension services networks; and second investing in agricultural research and development and supporting innovation to provide the solutions for tomorrow and ensure a supportive, science based regulatory framework and policies.

Enhancing sustainable productivity must be the centre of efforts to make agriculture both environmentally sound and economically dynamic? we need to achieve more crops per drop of water, per acre of land, per measure of inputs. This is essential to ensure the surface of land under cultivation does not expand, in order to preserve biodiversity and natural carbon sinks. Climate Change is expected to increase the poverty. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification estimates that by the year 2050, half of the current arable land will become unusable. Improved seeds will help to maintain yields under drought conditions and prevent erosion. Producers need to be integrated in value chains and new activities need to be developed in processing and other sectors to improve rural incomes and ensure that growth in productivity translates into better livelihoods. The 2009 Keystone ?Field to Market? research found that gains in yield per acre in the past 20 years in the USA had also been accompanied by significant improvements in the overall efficiency of resource use. The project looked at key crops such as soybean and maize and found reduced use of irrigated water, reduced soil loss, reduced habitat loss, reduced energy use, and lower carbon emissions. The Field to Market study clearly showed that progress has been made by farmers in the path to increased sustainability while enhancing their productivity.

Additionally, efforts should be increased to promote sustainable agri-food systems throughout the lifecycle. In 2010, FAO estimated that poorly developed systems for handling, storage, packaging, transportation, and marketing of agricultural products in developing countries results in post-harvest losses ranging from 15% to a staggering 50%. Investment in food Infrastructure and handling could reduce losses and improve food safety. Developed countries also face losses due to food waste from harvest, through delivery to food services, and in households. Waste is worst in fresh produce which delivers vital nutrients to humans around the globe.

Finally, improving farmers? access to inputs and supporting technology uptake and diffusion is essential. In some areas, creative strategies that enable access to existing knowledge networks can make real differences to farmers. For instance, in India, a late December harvest of mustard seeds was causing up to 30 percent of crop to be lost to frost, so breeders worked on a seed with a shorter duration period. This enabled farmers to harvest in early December, avoiding the issue of frost. Farmers also benefited from better prices as they were able to bring their seeds to the market before the usual excess occurred in January.

Research, Innovation and Capacity Building

Agriculture is a knowledge-intensive sector. Farmers need to have access to training, services, capacity building, and sharing of traditional knowledge that can encourage the production of abundant and nutritious crops and mixed diets. Knowledge helps farmers adopt practices that maximize the efficiency of the inputs they use and help protect the natural resources they depend on. Training programmes should specifically involve women and young farmers in developing countries as essential partners for household nutrition and welfare.

Providing this education to rural communities in a systematic, participatory manner that is maintained, rather than a ?one-off? activity, is essential to improving their production, income and quality of life. Extension services disseminate practical information related to agriculture, including correct use of improved seeds, integrated pest management, including the use of pesticides, fertilizers, farm implements, tillage practices, water management, livestock management and welfare, marketing techniques, and basic business skills to address poverty. Extension is also an essential pillar for rural community progress including support for the capacity building at farm level.
Farmers must constantly adapt, and the challenge of climate change is making that need ever more acute. Investing in research and development, in both public and private sector, is essential to ensure farmers have the tools they need in the future and that the gains obtained in productivity and footprint are not undermined.

Targeted investment in research, combined with supportive frameworks for the roll out, diffusion and uptake of new improved technologies and the products are essential to support continuous improvements in agricultural sustainability. Governments need to support both public and private research by creating supportive regulatory and incentive frameworks that promote not only innovation but collaboration. Global alignment of regulations and these frameworks is vital to support freedom to operate and important trade. Specific efforts to localise and adapt existing scientific knowledge to serve the needs of small farmers in different geographies are also required. In this area, public-private partnerships can play a role but localisation and technology adaptation need to be supported by strong national and regional scientific capacity and active efforts to create markets in order to spur private investment, not only in farming itself but in the agro-food industry that surrounds it.

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