Israel
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  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Member State
  • Name: Israel
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Finance (5 hits),

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Expectations from RIO+20 Summit

During the 20 years since the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), in Rio de Janeiro, much has been achieved in terms of reduction of poverty and the recognition that unconstrained demands on the earth's ecosystems is unsustainable. The "RIO+20" summit provides a much needed opportunity for reassessment of the failures and achievements in reaching the sustainable development goals that were set 20 years ago. The three pillars of sustainable development should be considered mutually and must be more effectively synthesized so that the continuing move to economic development for all countries is executed with full recognition that the natural and human resources required for development will not be available in the long term unless steps are taken to avoid environmental degradation and reduce social inequality. It is important to recognize that there are new and emerging issues that were not considered previously and now warrant greater attention.

It is widely acknowledged that if current practices continue, the earth will exceed its carrying capacity effecting first the most vulnerable populations. Projections of a world population of approximately 9 billion by the middle of this century mean that continuation of "Business as Usual" patterns, are not an option. The recent economic crisis and the social unrest seen in many parts of the world must be perceived as providing an opportunity to reassess current directions and to harness the willingness to undertake drastic steps needed to further sustainable development.

The opportunity of a meeting of world leaders to reach agreement on the future direction of sustainable development should not be missed. To this end, the traditional division of countries into developed or developing is of less relevant as all countries will be called upon to make nationally appropriate commitments according to their needs and characteristics. Common but differentiated is not only a prescriptive statement reflecting the fact countries should contribute to the resolution of global challenges in accordance with their abilities but it also describes a reality in which all countries will commit to taking steps suitable to their national conditions while identifying the means to achieving this end.

Civil society, the business sector and other groups and partnerships are taking increasingly active roles as catalysts. The recognition that effective policies require the inclusion of non-governmental actors, capable of effecting change at the local, national, regional and international levels, must be further endorsed. The transfer of knowledge and experience as well as enhanced participation of all stakeholders and increased transparency may be assisted by new information systems and social networks while utilizing electronic means of communication.

The success of "Rio+20" summit should not be measured in terms of the adoption of a multilateral agreement, a treaty or other legally binding documents. The adoption of the Rio Conventions was a singular achievement of its time unlikely to be repeated. To set up such a target is to invite disappointment. Instead there is a need to focus on maximizing the coherence and synergies between existing agreements together with an analysis of their efficiency. Clearly, there must be increased coordination and coherence between Rio Conventions themselves and with other environmental conventions and agreements.

Israel believes that RIO+20 summit should focus on national commitments for the incorporation of nationally appropriate policies for all countries and where assistance is needed, the identification of types of effective assistance requested by countries in achieving these commitments. The creation of appropriate indicators; exchange of best practices, including by regional centers of excellence and centers for environmental cooperation; the establishment of mechanisms for measurement, reporting and analysis of progress and identification of the most effective tools required to achieve those commitments will apply to all counties in accordance with their abilities.

Towards a Green Economy

The challenge of mainstreaming sustainable development into all bodies of the UN reflects the challenges countries themselves face in mainstreaming sustainable development into government wide policies and particularly into national economic policies. In many cases, the solutions needed are clear but the coordination, consensus building and cooperation which is required at the national level is hard to achieve.

The attempt to establish a common definition of a "Green Economy" and to have this definition applicable to the very wide range of countries which constitute the United Nations is likely to impede a successful outcome of the Rio+20 processes. Adoption of green economy principles involves a recognition that the claim that long term economic growth and sustainability are incompatible is not so.

The decision to focus on greening the economy stems justifiably, from the need to link economic and social policies more intimately with environmental considerations, and is a practical outcome of sustainable development. This process highlights not only the need for government actions but requires the participation of non-governmental actors and the need for the inclusion of environmental considerations by financial bodies, business, educational bodies and communities to name but a few.

If, as we believe, RIO+20 will provide the start of a process of national commitments towards a green economy, the various topics that might be considered and included in a best practices toolkit could include: the use of taxation to create incentives for sustainable production and consumption; the removal of harmful subsidies; the internalization of environmental externalities; correctly value natural resources and ecosystem services; development of sustainable procurement policies, more sustainable paths for job creation; promoting innovation through the support of research and development policies that could spearhead new markets for environmentally preferable products.

Current levels of consumption and production in the developed world are not sustainable and commitments by wealthier countries to focus on this area could assist in clarifying that all countries will be making their contribution.

Unfortunately, due in part to the current means of assessing economic growth, there may be hesitancy on the part national governments in actively encouraging changes towards sustainable lifestyles. As long as economic growth alone is the measure of progress, the inclusion of the social and environmental components of sustainable development will remain inadequate. There is a need for better indicators for measuring well being, in addition to those of market economic activity. A number of initiatives are promoting broader definitions of progress these include a shift of emphasis from measuring economic production to measuring people's wellbeing, encompassing income, health, education and the state and trends of natural capital as well as public perceptions of fairness. Efforts should be directed to using indicators that encourage truly sustainable development, which improves the quality of human life while living within the carrying capacity of the world's supporting ecosystems.

Concern has been expressed that these policies may give rise to trade protectionism and this concern should be addressed in the outcome document. Nevertheless, it is important to emphasize that green economic policies is applicable to all countries not just developed ones.

Israel believes that increasing attention needs to be paid for incorporating performance indicators for sustainable development policies. These indictors should be taken into consideration both while formulating the policies as well as when assessing their performance. The need for appropriate performance indicators for sustainable development policies is relevant at the international level, national level and at the local level. In order to measure the effects of policies undertaken, consideration should be given to methods of monitoring and reporting which take into account the characteristics and abilities of countries. It is recognized that "benchmarking" through indicators of performance and outcome is an effective way to attain improvement.

Israel has continued and expanded in its development activities in the last 20 years while focusing in the last ten years on increased efforts to achieve the MDG's (Millennium Development Goals). One of the main thematic areas of these activities is agriculture, water and food security. An approach that was developed by MASHAV in relation to these issues, as an Israeli outcome of the "world summit for Sustainable Development - Rio +10" meeting in Johannesburg 2002 is the "TIPA ? technological innovation for poverty alleviation" based on the "African market Garden" concept developed in Israel. Israel hopes to increase these efforts while focusing on the environment, gender, capacity building and programs that are country led, demand driven and effectively coordinated.

Israel believes that agriculture and in particular green agriculture should be one of the main thematic issues at Rio+20. A detailed position paper is attached being an Israeli position paper but building on the outcome of an international meeting hosted and led by Israel and the UNDESA under the title "High-Level Expert group Meeting on using Green Agriculture to Stimulate Economic Growth and Eradicate Poverty", held in Israel from 25-27 of October, 2011. The position paper is attached as Annex 2.

Institutional framework for sustainable development

Israel believes that the environmental pillar of sustainable development needs to be strengthened which should be reflected in institutional structures, particularly in light of the proposed enhanced role for UNEP.

However a major reform of sustainable governance at UN level may be premature both because the suggested focus should be on enhancing the capacity to deliver sustainable development at the national level and it may be necessary to assess how existing structures may be strengthened to meet these changing demands. It is important to continue to explore ways to improve the effectiveness and coherence of existing institutions.

Israel proposes the establishment of centers (international, regional and national) for sustainable development through International Environmental Development Cooperation. These centers could be established voluntarily by member states in cooperation and coordination among themselves. The focus should be on partnerships and capacity building towards sustainable development.

To conclude, we believe that RIO+20 against the backdrop of the world economic crisis and civil unrest, should focus on the political commitment to introduce sustainability considerations in an integrative manner in the domestic policies of all member countries in accordance with their characteristics together with the introduction of indicators reporting mechanisms, transparency and benchmarking.

Israel has been an active participant in global processes on sustainable development within Multilateral and bilateral systems and will continue in this spirit in the future.

Annex I:

Towards crafting policy toolkits for a sustainable economy

Israel believes that discussing and elaborating on policy tools and best practices for achieving sustainable economies should be a valuable contribution of Rio+20. Successful practical solutions can assist efforts of all parties to achieve their goals. Annex I provides examples of such policy tools together with examples of Israel's experience in its move towards a greener and a more sustainable economy. These best practices could be included in a "Toolkit for a Green Economy".

Israel's green growth strategy which is currently being developed through a multi stakeholder "roundtable" consultative process, considers itself to be a natural outgrowth and organic continuation of the sustainable development process. This process that includes representatives from governmental ministries, the business sector and civil society has been initiated by a governmental decision that will result in a national green growth strategic plan to be prepared by May 2012 before the Rio+20 summit.

The plan will specifically address the following issues: correcting regulation failures; promoting the environmental and ICT industries; creating new markets for green products and services; promoting green consumption including green building; promoting eco-innovation; green jobs, including taking into consideration the need to accommodate job creation by addressing the academia and professional and technical courses; facilitating the transition of industrial sectors to green forms of manufacturing and production; facilitating the green transformation of the financial sector; and promoting local produce and consumption.

Sustainable Consumption and Production

Current levels of consumption and production in the developed world are not sustainable. Among the various tools which may be considered by countries according to their individual needs are: green government procurement; quantitative and measurable targets for resource productivity and reduction of resource consumption; green taxation to encourage the purchase of environmentally friendly products and services; Eco-labeling schemes; the creation of a sustainable consumption index; establishing clean production centers and sustainable industrial zones; cradle to cradle industrial approaches; and educational programs encouraging sustainable life styles. Israel's mass media government led campaign, "let's think green", for example, launched last year, utilizes the mass media through positive psychology techniques to reduce wasteful consumption and emphasize the link between sustainable consumption and monetary savings.

Sustainable Urbanization

Half the world's population resides in cities and towns and the number is growing. Well-designed and well-governed cities combine high social and economic living standards with an ecologically sound and carbon-efficient built environment. High density housing and infrastructures and accessibility to public transport reduce the carbon footprints of urban populations.

The aim is for socially inclusive housing policy including an integrated approach to the revitalization of underprivileged urban neighborhoods. Publically funded partnerships between government, local authority, community and civil society are aimed at increasing the value of owner-occupier properties, improving housing quality, empowering residents and the community and creating opportunities for social and economic mobility. This may include physical upgrade, retrofit of buildings and infrastructures with social improvements in education, health, community, employment and entrepreneurship.

Israel's sustainable urban development policy is focused on conserving scarce land resources while providing the population with access to suitable housing that is safe, healthy, affordable and ecological. Strategies employed include the increase in urban density and better utilization of land resources, infrastructures and public facilities, without relocating local communities.

Increased building rights are the tool used to promote "In-fill", "Clearance and Construction" and "Urban Renewal". Increased building rights offer incentives for PPP's that achieve better urban design in compliance with updated green building code standards and national plans for harnessing renewable energy sources, water efficiency and fortification against earthquakes and other disasters.

Research & Development towards Eco-innovation

There is a constant need to stimulate scientific & technological innovation. Opportunities in what is termed eco-innovation are almost limitless and efforts to encourage the devotion of bigger share of the national budgets towards these fields can leverage green growth. As an example, Israel's national action plan for water technology and renewable energy technologies promote research and development in new technologies resulting in the creation of green jobs, solutions to local environmental problems and improved utilization of scarce resources.

Combating Desertification

As has been long acknowledged, desertification is one of the most significant global environmental problems with direct impacts on social and economical development. To a great extent, Israel?s successful program for combating desertification is based on sustainable agricultural development through centralized national water management that includes: transportation of water from regions of relative water abundance to regions of water shortage; storage of water during years of abundance for use in years of drought; reuse of treated wastewater; cultivation of crops adapted to different water qualities and to the specific local climate and soil conditions; and afforestation of semi-arid lands. Large scale seawater desalination has recently been introduced in order to alleviate pressures on limited water resources. These policies have been supplemented by water conservation measures based on the implementation of subsurface drip irrigation; prevention of salt accumulation on the surface and in the root zone of crops; as well as technologies to reduce water loss by evaporation. Runoff and rainfall catchment basins have also enabled the development of agro-forestry in areas with insufficient rainfall.

Petroleum alternatives in transportation

Supplying current and future energy needs while addressing issues related to climate change, air pollution, economic viability and energy security are among the most pressing challenges that the world is facing. While the promotion of renewable electricity sources is vital, other policy tools exist and must not be overlooked. Israel recently developed a national plan for the promotion of petroleum alternatives in transportation. The initiative aims to strengthen existing and emerging companies directed to the reduction of oil dependence in transportation. The initiative includes financing of targeted basic research, support for industrial R&D and project Finance, and regulatory assistance through a designated one stop shop. The program applies many resources for the promotion of international cooperation in this global issue as well. A central component of Israel's policy is the setting of a minimum price for petroleum. This policy assures companies who develop alternatives to petroleum that their product will be competitive even when oil prices are low.

Food Security

In order to enhance the availability of food and access to it, there is a need to reduce the use of non renewable natural resources, enhance water conservation, reduce soil erosion and develop more resilient crops. For example, through the development of such strategies backed by innovative technologies, Israel has managed to increase the rate of product per unit of water in the agricultural sector by a factor of 5 over the past decades. Future strategies for achieving food security might also consider sustainable use of chemicals and biological pest control.

Water scarcity and Sound Water Management

Water scarcity is among the main problems faced by many societies and will become increasingly acute in the future. Israel lies in hyper-arid to semi-arid climatic zones and is characterized by a relatively high population increase and economic growth. Yet, over the years Israel has managed to develop an advanced water economy. This has been achieved through the introduction of demand management policies as well as the development of alternative water sources. Several economic and regulatory tools are used in order to manage the water demand. These tools include differentiated water tariffs based on type and amount of water used, water metering at the household level and the promotion of increased water efficiency in agricultural and industrial production. A cornerstone of Israel's policy is the use of alternative water sources such as reclamation of wastewater and more recently the introduction of large scale reverse osmosis seawater desalination plants. Currently, approximately 75% of all municipal treated wastewater is reclaimed for agricultural purposes and provides almost half of all irrigation water. In 2010 Israel adopted legislation requiring tertiary treatment of wastewater from large and medium sized cities, including reference to 36 different parameters, to ensure sustainable use of effluents in terms of public health and the environment.

Financial Sector

Financial institutions have substantial indirect impacts on the environment through their credit and investment policies, industrial portfolio engagement and asset management. Israel has developed tools aimed at translating environmental risks into financial risks through various mechanisms in the financial sector, in cooperation with financial sector regulators such as the Israel Securities Authority, the Bank of Israel and the Capital and Insurance Division of the Ministry of Finance. The Israel Securities Authority (ISA) requires disclosure of environmental risks, relevant to the economic evaluation of investors, in information provided to the public. The Capital and Insurance Division of the Ministry of Finance issued instructions to institutional investment funds requiring them to follow guidelines aimed to clarify their policies relating to risk management, including environmental risk management. The Bank of Israel issued instructions to Banks and credit institutions to take into account environmental risks which could result in financial losses. The Government Companies Authority requires government-held companies to consolidate a sustainable development and environmental risk management policy. Recently, a methodology for an index of the environmental performance of public corporations has also been developed.

Annex 2:

Israel's Position Paper on Green Agriculture and Green Economy

1. The concept of green agriculture as a mean of economic growth is based on simultaneous development and protection of the environment, lessening pollution, pollutants emissions and inefficient use of natural resources, together with reducing the amount of wastes produced.

2. Green agriculture should not imply only organic agriculture, but should encompass a wide range of sustainable agricultural methods and technologies, as long as they cause minimal damage to the environment and preserve the natural resource base.

3. Current methods and tools that allow sensible and sustainable use of natural resources as inputs in agriculture, allowing for food production while keeping agriculture as an economically viable sector.

4. The primary stakeholder in the arena is the farmer. A green agriculture and green economy may enable increasing food production and eradicating poverty, allowing for acceptable livelihoods while making sensible use of limited natural resources. Activities of both small and large scale farmers should provide food for the farmer's family, and, if possible, for external markets, ensure economically viable production and development, and preserve the environment.

5. Taking into consideration that natural and ecological resources, which provide the basis for all agricultural production and its inputs, belong to the public then public involvement in the management, allocation and preservation of these resources is essential. National and regional governments, as well as global cooperation, must put forward a public policy in agriculture that takes into consideration the environment and realizes its potential while simultaneously allowing food production and economic viability for the farmer.

6. Best management practices, including development and use of agricultural technologies in crop production, should be encouraged

7. A global resource centre of best practices, tools, knowledge, experiences and technologies should be developed for the benefit of all countries.

8. Green rural agriculture and rural communities are essential for the well being of society and the protection of environment and natural resources to balance the impact of rapid urbanization.

9. Four main specific topics to be considered in the context of green agriculture and green economy are related to the farmers and farming environment. These main topics are: Mobilizing the farmer, Macroeconomic policies for green agriculture, agricultural food production and the environment and identifying stakeholders in agriculture.

The main aspects identified in each topic are as follow:

1. Mobilizing the farmer

Toolkit for farmers

(a) Sound packages of agro-technology information for farmers, especially small and women farmers, to make more from less and sustain scarce resources

(b) Strong extension services to transfer technology, to adopt changing patterns of agriculture, new scientific knowledge, strategies for adaptation to climate change and disasters, and maintenance of sustainable farming systems

(c) Strong rural infrastructure to connect farmers to markets, and to store and transport their produce

(d) Access to inputs, including credit and market information

(e) Insurance against disasters, and reliable warning systems

(f) Payment for environmental services

Research and development

(a) Develop basic and applied research, and develop a knowledge-basis for different agro-technologies and environmental conditions, including:

(b) Growing methods for food production, with optimum use of limited natural resources and adaptation to climate change

(c) Applicable and sustainable food production methods

(d) Economically viable growing and management methods

(e) Effective practices for farmers, capitalizing on their local knowledge, as well as on scientific research

Extension services

(a) Clarify extension objectives, clients, content, and methods

(b) Preserve public institutions in charge of the assimilation of know-how

(c) Enhance development of public and private extension

(d) Provide the farmer access to information on production techniques, management, marketing and economy

(e) Assure assimilation of know-how by farmers through training, follow up, monitoring and evaluation

Policy formulation

(a) Set a general public policy (national and regional) to promote adoption of new agricultural ?green? methods by the farmer

(b) Assure public funding and the necessary budgetary requirements by policy makers

(c) Encourage investment by farmers through different economic means

(d) Define specifications for application of different methods

(e) Promote farmers? organizations and common interests groups

2. Macro-economic policies for green agriculture

(a) Provide cost-benefit analysis for justifying research and development initiatives and regulations

(b) Provide a comparative analysis of policy types, including taxes (polluters pay) and subsidies that help farmers

(c) Increase price gap between conventional and green technologies

( d) Understand distributional consequences

(e) Provide a list of beneficiaries and losers: producers, consumers, taxpayers, and environmental consequences; describe them qualitatively, and try to monetize their costs and benefits.

(f) Always start from equal weights, then use political economics to derive different weights and show trade-offs.

(g) Green agriculture as a potential solution for economic growth and poverty eradication will be knowledge-intensive

3. Agricultural food production and the environment

(a) Adopting environmentally friendly practices in food production will benefit society at large as well as the individual farmer, both in economic terms and in quality of life.

(b) Integrated actions based on know-how and technology requires that more resources are invested in research and development on green food production.

(c) New and innovative financial solutions should become available to promote ecological and resource conservation.

(d) Legislation is a mean that will encourage sustainable agriculture while maintaining economic viability should be adopted.

(e) Green agriculture can be promoted through the dissemination of information and proper education, in both rural and urban sectors.

(f) Protecting soil fertility is essential for the maintenance of food security.

(g) Agricultural activity has positive externalities, including wastewater reuse and proper land use in order to prevent soil erosion.

(h) In order to lessen competition between food and energy crops, the following points should be integrated in programs:

a. Cultivation to maximize output per unit land area

b. Reclaiming potentially arable land for food or energy production

c. Encouraging countries to exploit their full production potential

d. Encouraging research to enable more efficient use of natural resources for food and energy production.

4. Identifying stakeholders in green agriculture

The main stakeholders in green agriculture identified were:

(a) Farmers - small holders and large farms

(b) Consumers - rural and urban

(c) Public Sector - local authorities, federal and state government, international organizations, global and regional conventions and agreements

(d) Private Sector ? input producers, input dealers, food processing, trade, financing

(e) Civil Society ? foundations, NGOs, farmers associations, scientific community

The role of stakeholders:

(a) Stakeholders are encouraged to develop partnerships, each one contributing according to its role. Success will require the innovative strength of industry, the leadership of government, the community mobilization of civil society and the entrepreneurship of farmers.

(b) Governments must set the direction and play a strong leadership role in shifting to sustainable agriculture.

(c) Businesses should stretch to innovate and invest, tactically driving implementation of the green economy through the market.

(d) Global companies can leverage their resources to engage and strengthen local enterprises and partner with diverse stakeholders to deliver results at scale.

(e) Civil society can mobilize the community to meet its unique social, environmental and economic needs


Chair?s Summary High-Level Expert Group Meeting on Using Green Agriculture to Stimulate Economic Growth and Eradicate Poverty 25-27 October 2011, Ramat Gan, Israel

1. The High-Level Expert Group Meeting on Using Green Agriculture to Stimulate Economic Growth and Eradicate Poverty was held in Ramat Gan, Israel from 25 to 27 October 2011. It was co-sponsored by the Government of Israel, through MASHAV (Israel?s Agency for International Development Cooperation) and the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Secretariat of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). Dr. Mordechai Cohen (Kedmon), Agriculture and Rural Planning and Development, Chaired the meeting, which was attended by more than 70 participants, including high-level officials from 28 member States, national and international agriculture experts, representatives of UN system agencies, and Major Groups.

2. The purpose of this High-Level Expert Group Meeting was to raise awareness of the central role that green and sustainable agriculture can play to stimulate economic growth and combat poverty through the sharing of knowledge, best practices and lessons learned. The concept of green economic growth is based on simultaneous development and protection of the environment, lessening pollution, pollutants emissions and inefficient use of natural resources, together with reducing the amount of wastes produced. Green growth strategy encompasses many domains of public policy.

3. The Expert Group Meeting constitutes a contribution to the preparations for Rio+20, exploring how green and sustainable agriculture can contribute to a green economy, addressing the importance of sustainable agriculture in ensuring food security, mitigating and adapting to climate change, and stimulating economic growth in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.

4. The meeting explored methods and tools that allow sensible and sustainable use of natural resources as inputs in agriculture, allowing for food production while keeping agriculture as an economically viable sector. The discussions focused on the farmer as the primary stakeholder and examined the broad spectrum of tools that can assist in increasing food production and eradicating poverty, allowing for acceptable livelihoods while making sensible use of limited natural resources. Activities of both small and large scale farmers were covered, bearing in mind the need to provide food for the farmer's family, and, if possible, for external markets; ensure economically viable production and development, and preserve the environment.

5. The underlying premise of the meeting was that natural and ecological resources, which provide the basis for all agricultural production and its inputs, belong to the public. Hence, public involvement in the management, allocation and preservation of these resources is essential. National and regional governments, as well as global cooperation, must put forward a public policy in agriculture that takes into consideration the environment and realizes its potential while simultaneously allowing food production and economic development.

6. Dr. Mordechai Cohen (Kedmon) opened the meeting with an overview of the main problems that the agricultural sector faces in the 21st century and an introduction to the topics to be discussed. Ms. Orit Noked, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Israel, Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary General of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs and Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), and Ambassador Daniel Carmon, Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Head of MASHAV, Israel?s Agency for International Development Cooperation, attended the opening ceremony and made statements. Dr. Hans R. Herren, President of the Millennium Institute and founder of the Biovision Foundation, provided the keynote address, in which he placed sustainable agriculture and the small holder farmer at the center of sustainable development and outlined how present agricultural systems can be transformed to sustainably support the planet?s need for food security.

7. The first day of this meeting addressed four main topics: mobilizing large and smallscale farmers, macroeconomic policies for green agriculture, agricultural food production and the environment, and identifying stakeholders in agriculture. The topics were introduced by panels of expert speakers and followed by parallel roundtable discussions among participants.

8. The topic of mobilizing the farmer was introduced through presentations by Mr. Johnathon Gressel, United States Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service, and Mr. Alex Meuller, FAO's Assistant-Director General for Natural Resources and the Environment. Dr. Moshe Azencot, a consultant in agricultural extension and rural development, Israel, chaired the roundtable, which focused on means and tools for mobilizing the farmer to adopt economically viable food production methods while making efficient use of natural resources.

9. Macroeconomic policies for green agriculture were presented by Mr. Antoine Renard, Head of the Programme Support Unit, World Food Programme, and Ms. Sima Yudovich, Deputy Director General, Finance and Investment Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Israel. The roundtable, which was conducted in parallel with roundtable one, was chaired by Professor Nir Becker, Department of Economics and Management, Deputy Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Tel-Hai Academic College, Israel.

10. The topic of agricultural food production and the environment was introduced by presentations from Dr. Shrikant Limaye, Director of the Groundwater Institute, India, and Dr. Patricia Imas, Chief Agronomist at ICL Fertilizers and representative of Farming First. Professor Uri Mingelgrin, former Deputy Head for Scientific Affairs, Agricultural Research Organization, Israel, served as the Chair for this roundtable.

11. The topic of identifying stakeholders in agriculture was presented by Dr. Sarala Gopalan, World Farmers? Organization, and Dr. Esther Kimani, Phytosanitary Services, Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate. The parallel roundtable was chaired by Dr. Yossi Inbar, Environmental Consultant and former Director General of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Israel. Discussion revolved around potential stakeholders in agriculture, tools for cooperation, and potential conflicts and ways of handling them.

12. The second day of the meeting consisted of a field trip to various sites in the central part of Israel that demonstrated different types of management and technologies of intensive agriculture that aim to comply with sustainability on one hand and economically viable food production on the other. During the tour, environmental technologies based on Israeli research and development were presented, including recycling of sewage water for agricultural uses, advanced irrigation methods and technologies for different crops, environmental approaches and technologies for dairy farm facilities, and use of new methods in orchards. It included the presentation of different stakeholders in this system, including farmers, the State, and the private sector. The field trip was followed by a dinner hosted by the Israeli Government, including a summary of the day?s visits presented by Mr. Yossi Yishai, Director General of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Israel.

13. The final half day of the meeting was held in plenary where discussions on main ideas and conclusions were facilitated by the Chair of the meeting. Participants also heard a presentation by Dr. Michael Dorsey, Dartmouth College, on the potential role of sustainable agriculture in looking ahead to Rio+20.

14. Following a discussion on the exact meaning of the term ?green agriculture?, participants recognized that there is no agreement on its definition, with some noting that green agriculture should not imply only organic agriculture, but should encompass a wide range of sustainable agricultural methods and technologies, as long as they caused minimal damage to the environment and preserved the natural resource base.

15. The main conclusions from the meeting were outlined as elements of a Multi-Layered Road Map, including the following key messages:

(a) Green Agriculture as a tool for economic growth and poverty eradication should be recognised as such and should be highly prioritized by Governments.

(b) Green agriculture should be one of the main topics to be addressed during the Rio+20 Conference, in light of its central role in the green economy.

(c) Ministers of agriculture should attend the Rio+20 Conference.

(d) A global effort is required, especially in developing countries in order to strengthen overall resilience of agricultural systems, increase global food security, reduce poverty, and improve nutrition, while creating economic growth, and protecting and renewing the environment.

(e) Infrastructure that will allow long-term forecasting of agricultural production required for poverty eradication, food security and sustainable natural resource management should be developed and available in and for each country.

(f) Infrastructure must enable natural resource conservation, capacity building of farmers and other stakeholders, access to financial means, legislation, research and development, extension, public Finance and planning.

(g) A global resource centre of best practices, tools, knowledge, experiences and technologies should be developed for the benefit of all countries. (h) Appropriate policies for both small and large scale farmers have to be adopted while taking into consideration the development level of the country, noting that one size does not fit all.

(i) Green agriculture refers to all components of the production and marketing chain, in particular post harvest management.

(j) Green rural agriculture and rural communities are essential for the well being of society and the protection of environment and natural resources to balance the impact of rapid urbanisation.

(k) Best management practices, including development and use of agricultural technologies in crop production, should be encouraged.

(l) Links among research-extension-industry and farmers should be strengthened.

(m) Public-Private-Partnerships are important for implementation of green agriculture.

16. The main messages emanating from the roundtable on means and tools for mobilizing the farmer to adopt economically viable food production methods while making efficient use of natural resources were elaborated under the following sub-themes:

Toolkit for farmers

(a) Sound packages of agro-technology information for farmers, especially small and women farmers, to make more from less and sustain scarce resources

(b) Strong extension services to transfer technology, to adopt changing patterns of agriculture, new scientific knowledge, strategies for adaptation to climate change and disasters, and maintenance of sustainable farming systems

(c) Strong rural infrastructure to connect farmers to markets and to store and transport their produce

(d) Access to inputs, including credit and market information

(e) Insurance against disasters, and reliable warning systems

(f) Payment for environmental services Research and development

(a) Develop basic and applied research, and develop a knowledge-basis for different agro-technologies and environmental conditions, including:

i. Growing methods for food production, with optimum use of limited natural resources and adaptation to climate change

ii. Applicable and sustainable food production methods

iii. Economically viable growing and management methods

iv. Effective practices for farmers, capitalizing on their local knowledge, as well as on scientific research

Extension services

(a) Clarify extension objectives, clients, content, and methods

(b) Preserve public institutions in charge of the assimilation of know-how

(c) Enhance development of public and private extension

(d) Provide the farmer access to information on production techniques, management, marketing and economy

(e) Assure assimilation of know-how by farmers through training, follow up, monitoring and evaluation Policy formulation

(a) Set a general public policy (national and regional) to promote adoption of new agricultural ?green? methods by the farmer

(b) Assure public funding and the necessary budgetary requirements by policy makers

(c) Encourage investment by farmers through different economic means

(d) Define specifications for application of different methods

(e) Promote farmers? organizations and common interests groups

17. The roundtable on macro-economic policies for green agriculture examined the rationale for Government intervention, highlighting the market failures or ?bottlenecks? such as farmers? knowledge (especially in developing countries), farmers? ability to pay, consumer knowledge, and the consumer?s ability to pay. It explored the question of who benefits and who has to pay the price for initiating green agriculture activities. The main conclusions from this roundtable are as follows:

(a) Provide cost-benefit analysis for justifying research and development initiatives and regulations.

(b) Provide a comparative analysis of policy types, including taxes (polluters pay) and subsidies that help farmers.

(c) Increase price gap between conventional and green technologies

(d) Understand distributional consequences.

(e) Provide a list of beneficiaries and losers: producers, consumers, taxpayers, and environmental consequences; describe them qualitatively, and try to monetize their costs and benefits.

(f) Always start from equal weights, then use political economics to derive different weights and show trade-offs.

(g) Green agriculture as a potential solution for economic growth and poverty eradication will be knowledge-intensive.

18. The main conclusions from the roundtable on agricultural food production and the environment are as follows:

(a) Adopting environmentally friendly practices in food production will benefit society at large as well as the individual farmer, both in economic terms and in quality of life.

(b) Integrated actions based on know-how and technology requires that more resources are invested in research and development on green food production.

(c) New and innovative financial solutions should become available to promote ecological and resource conservation.

(d) Legislation is a means that will encourage sustainable agriculture while maintaining economic viability.

(e) Green agriculture can be promoted through the dissemination of information and proper education, in both rural and urban sectors.

(f) Protecting soil fertility is essential for the maintenance of food security.

(g) Agricultural activity has positive externalities, including wastewater reuse and proper land use in order to prevent soil erosion.

(h) In order to lessen competition between food and energy crops, the following points should be integrated in programs:

i. Cultivation to maximize output per unit land area

ii. Reclaiming potentially arable land for food or energy production

iii. Encouraging countries to exploit their full production potential

iv. Encouraging research to enable more efficient use of natural resources for food and energy production

19. During the roundtable on identifying stakeholders in agriculture, the main stakeholders in green agriculture were defined as:

(a) Farmers - small holders and large farms

(b) Consumers - rural and urban

(c) Public Sector - local authorities, federal and state government, international organizations, global and regional conventions and agreements

(d) Private Sector - input producers, input dealers, food processing, trade, financing

(e) Civil Society - foundations, NGOs, farmers associations, scientific community

20. The key messages included:

(a) Stakeholders are encouraged to develop partnerships, each one contributing according to its role. Success will require the innovative strength of industry, the leadership of government, the community mobilization of civil society and the entrepreneurship of farmers.

(b) Governments must set the direction and play a strong leadership role in shifting to sustainable agriculture.

(c) Businesses should stretch to innovate and invest, tactically driving implementation of the green economy through the market.

(d) Global companies can leverage their resources to engage and strengthen local enterprises and partner with diverse stakeholders to deliver results at scale.

(e) Civil society can mobilize the community to meet its unique social, environmental and economic needs.


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