International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM)
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM)
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Agenda 21 (2 hits),

Full Submission

IFOAM Submission to the UNCSD Rio+20 Zero Draft ? November 1st, 2011

IFOAM is the global umbrella organization of the international organic movement with over 750 member organizations in over 110 countries worldwide. IFOAM represents millions of certified and non-certified organic farmers and consumers around the world as well as the hopes of many more who want to see a transition toresilient,humane and equitable food and farming systems that nourish everyone as well as the planet. IFOAM believes that only farming that nourishes Nature and supports biological activities, efficient use of water, climate, seeds, breeds and naturally developed soils can guarantee food and nutrition for all; now and in the future.

The Definition of Organic Agriculture

Organic agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved.


Farmers represent one-third of the world?s population and one-half of its poor and unacceptably many of its hungry and starving and almost all are in developing countries and subject to unjust policies and climate change that significantly reduces their livelihood opportunities. The real structural reasons behind hunger, obesity, and diet related diseases and inequality must be acknowledged. Massive perverse subsidies for industrial agriculture in developed countries, dismantling of research and extension services and land grabbing in developing countries have deprived millions of their livelihoods and sent many into hunger, exploitation and slums.

In 2008 the United Nation?s IAASTD report (the most comprehensive study into the future needs of agriculture ever undertaken) shattered the paradigm that technological fixes were the solution to food security. It stressed the multi-functionality of agriculture and has lead to the increased focus on small holders by policy makers. Many of its recommendations, including an essential shift towards ecosystem-based farming, have yet to be implemented however, as they call for the business as usual approaches favored by the interests of a minority yet powerful group of stakeholders to be fundamentally addressed.

Rio+20 comes at a critical time when despite significant increased awareness of the multiple negative impacts of industrial agriculture and the global commodity market, the expansion of industrial agriculture is actually accelerating. Given the wide range of issues from climate, to biodiversity, to trade, to food security, to poverty, desertification, deforestation and global ecosystem integrity, UNCSD 2012 offers a highly significant opportunity to change course by holistically addressing the core structural reasons behind poverty and our unsustainable path. We therefore urge the UNCSD Secretariat to be bold in preparing the Rio+20 Zero Draft and include solutions to addressing food and agriculture systems in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication as outlined in this document. IFOAM is ready to provide any support or clarification that might be required.

Rio+20decisions and outcomes:

1. Rio+20 must comprehensively address the urgent transition to Sustainable and Equitable Food and Agriculture Systems. This mustbe reflected in a major section in the Outcome Document

2. Rio+20 must ensure all people and communities both today and in the future are nourished with healthy, diverse and culturally appropriate food that respects animal welfare and the integrity of natural ecosystems at both the local and global level.

3. Rio+20 must recognize that the scaling up of agro-ecology through the reorientation of policies that support small-scale farmers is today?s main and most urgent food and agricultural challenge, and that a transition to an ecologically based, resilient, fair and fully inclusive and humane agriculture is essential if the goals of sustainability and poverty eradication are to be simultaneously achieved.

4. Rio+20 must recognize agro-ecological based farmingor organic farming practiced by small-scale farmers as the most effective approach in addressing climate change adaptation and mitigation, food and water security, biodiversity loss, poverty eradication and sustainable development. Smallholder farmers with their diverse farming systems produce the most sustainable and nutritious and fresh food for local and regional communities throughout the world. Such investments in sustainable nutritious food security are the key to alleviating poverty throughout much of the developing world and for stimulating green growth and addressing diet related disease in the developed world.

5. Rio+20 must put smallholder farmers, pastoralists and indigenous and traditional farming systems at the center of sustainable food and agriculture policies at all levels. Rio+20 must ensure that they are appropriately strengthened, especially their rights, so that they can continue to not only be the backbone of food security but also the basis of healthy and diverse diets throughout the world.

6. Rio+20 must support food sovereignty as the overall framework for food and agricultural policies and encourage communities, peoples, states and international institutions to recognize and realize food sovereignty. Food sovereignty puts the right to sufficient, healthy and culturally appropriate food for all individuals, peoples and communities at the center of food, agriculture, livestock and fisheries policies, rather than the demands of markets and corporations that prioritize internationally tradable commodities.

7. Rio+20 must pave the way for an urgent transition to sustainable, humane and socially inclusive and fair food and agriculture systems that nourishes all people without compromising the natural capital of future generations. It must put the needs ofall the worlds? citizens and the planet above the interests of a few powerful stakeholders that are currently driving the agriculture agenda across many aspects of international governance (climate, food security, trade etc.).

8. Rio+20 must recognize the 2008 IAASTDreport and its multi-stakeholder process, supported by multiple countries and UN institutions, as the most comprehensive and legitimate study for guiding the ongoing re-orientation of agriculture to socially inclusive and ecological based systems.

9. Rio+20 must adopt the recommendations of the IAASTD Report and those of other UN reports, policy briefs and agreements(outlined below) that increasingly call for an urgent shift to ecological-based and people centered food and agriculture systems:

a. The UN the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food?s report; ?Agro-ecology and the Right to Food? presented to the Sixteenth Session of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations General Assembly on the 8th March 2011. The report demonstrates that agro-ecology, if sufficiently supported, can double food production in entire regions within 10 years while mitigating climate change, alleviating rural poverty and strongly contributing to broader economic development.

b. The high quality and groundbreaking papers prepared by FAO for the FAO/OECD Expert Meeting on Greening the Economy with Agriculture (GEA) in Paris, France, 5 - 7 September 2011 bravely outline the structural reasons for many of the agriculture related problems that the world faces today and brings together and systematically evaluates a wide range of potential solutions for addressing the challenges ? many of which are already happening and can be scaled-up and further enhanced with the right support.

c. The agreements relevant to agriculture made at UNCSD 16 and 17

d. The FAO High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition report ?Price volatility and Food Security? of the UN?s Committee on World Food Security integrates a rights-based approach to food security and nutrition.

e. UNCTAD?s Policy Brief on Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security strongly outlines the economic reasons for shifting to ecosystem-based and people centered farming systems in LDCs.

10. Rio+20 must increase the proportion of overseas development assistance focused on agriculture and rural development to 20% and prioritize the needs of small-scale food producers, indigenous peoples, peasants and the rural poor.

11. Rio+20 mustmark the end of perverse policies that undermine sustainability and the livelihood and well being of agricultural based communities especially in LDCs.

12. Rio+20 must reshape the Research for Development (R4D) institutions so that they can address sustainability issues from the perspective of transitioning to ecosystem based and people-centered approaches.

13. Rio+20 mustrecognize the urgent need for the public sector to fund research and development activities (as outlined in the IAASTD Report), since food security is a matter of national security and so falls within the responsibility of government. Public spending on research on agriculture must increase and the bulk of research should be refocused to agro-ecological solutions for the challenges ahead by promoting bio-diverse and resilient farming systems and enabling food sovereignty.There must be much higher investment in pro-smallholder science, technology, infrastructure, services and innovation.

14. Rio+20 must usher in an era of Rights based approaches in food and agriculture for small scale food producers, pastoralists, indigenous peoples, peasants and the rural poor in which the Right to Food, the Right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent, The Right to Justice, The Right to their land and resources and The Right to Protect and Utilize their knowledge and innovationsare acknowledged, respected and universally implemented and realized.

15. Rio+20 must ensure small scale food producers, pastoralists, indigenous peoples, peasants and the rural poor are provided with enhanced access to information as basis for decision-making; access to justice; and free, prior and informed consent for both policy development and implementation actions on the ground including issues that pose a threat to local food security, livelihoods and tenurial rights such as land-grabbing.

16. Rio+20 must guarantee the rights of small scale food producers, pastoralists, indigenous peoples, peasants and the rural poor to participate in decision making processes in all aspects of agriculture processes including production, distribution, pricing, marketing, standard setting, policy making and regulation of the agricultural commodities market, and empower them to exercise these rights.

17. Rio+20 must protect the rights of small-scale food producers, pastoralists, indigenous peoples, peasants and local communities to utilize their knowledge, resources, practices and innovations (including traditional and indigenous) and ensure their unimpeded access to them.

18. Rio+20 must recognize the importance of knowledge and innovations(including traditional and indigenous) of small-scale food producers, pastoralists, indigenous peoples, peasants and local communities for achieving sustainable development. This recognition must be part and parcel of the body of agricultural knowledge that includes Knowledge, Science and Technology. This is a very important for agriculture and sustainable development as farmer?s knowledge is usually not peer reviewed.

19. Rio+20 must ban ?Terminator? type agricultural technologies.There are moves by some governments to overturn the global moratorium on ?Terminator? technologies. Rio+20 must urgently establish a global ban.

20. Rio+20 must condemn the patenting of genetic information (including multi-genome patent claims) and encourage governments to block or rescind such claims. Governments must also develop a clear intergovernmental process for examining the impact of intellectual-property regimes on living materials and processes.

21. Rio+20 must support in situ conservation and breeding strategies of peasant, communities and other small-scale producers. The diversity of the peasant food web offers enormous potential to respond to climate change and enhance nutrition security ? yet it?s under threat. The peasant food web conservesapproximately 50,000 species of wild relatives, breeds and nurtures 7,000 food cropspecies and has contributed over 2 million food and feed varieties. Policies must strengthen their efforts to diversify the food webespecially as the industrial food chain concentrates on just 150 species with almost all research focused on only 12 species.

22. Rio+20 must recognize the important role that States and donors have to play in the transition to socially inclusive and ecological based farming systems as agro-ecology is knowledge-intensive rather than external input / product / capital intensive and is therefore less attractive to private companies that develop and supply such products. As a consequence the transition will require public policies supporting agricultural research and the wide dissemination of outcomes and outputs including through the development of participative extension services.

23. Rio+20 must commit States to transition to an ecological-based and socially fair and inclusive food and agriculture systems as outlined in this document.States can immediately start to implement actions locallysuch as; prioritizing the procurement of public goods in public spending rather than solely providing input subsidies; investing in knowledge by reinvesting in agricultural research and extension services; investing in forms of social organization that encourage partnerships, including farmer field schools and farmers? movements innovation networks; investing in agricultural research and extension systems; empowering women; and creating a macro-economic enabling environment, including connecting sustainable farms to fair markets.

Specific Mechanisms& Actions for Implementing Outcomes &Decisions:

24. Rio+20 must give the FAO?s Committee on World Food Security (CFS) a mandate to develop a work plan for implementing:

a. the decisions of UNCSD 2012,

b. the findings of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD),

c. the recommendations on agro-ecology by the United Nations? Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food in his report presented at the 16th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in March 2011,

d. the relevant parts of Chapter 14 of Agenda 21, and

e. UNCSD 16/17, making sure that the views and concerns of small scale food providers are taken into account

25. Rio+20 must establish an 'International Multi-stakeholder Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems', based on the IAASTD process and its objectives, that informs the transition to a green, fair, ecologically sound and humane agriculture through the provision of regular updates on Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology options that address food and water security within the context of sustainable development and which compliments the role of the CFS of FAO.

26. Rio+20 must establish a new, broad, participatory and transparent UN environmental network. Within this network, Southern governments, backed by civil society, can coherently address the full range of climate, environmental and social issues currently covered by a variety of treaty bodies, funds and offices.

27. Rio+20 must support the adoption of a UN Declaration on Peasant Rights. Across the world, peasants and small farmers, agricultural workers and landless people are victims of violent oppressions, criminalization, discrimination, and expulsion and alienation from their lands and livelihoods. In order to address these unique patterns of violations, there is a need for specific provisions and mechanisms to fully protect the rights of peasants. An international instrument to respect, protect, fulfill, and uphold peasants' rights must therefore be created within the UN.

28. Rio+20 must establish a multi-stakeholder technology (bio, nano and geo-engineering) assessment and information mechanism at the global and regional levels that assesses the potential environmental, health and social economic impacts of new and emerging technologies based on the precautionary principle. Such a mechanism must be transparent and participatory and build the capacities of countries and communities in all aspects of technology assessment.

29. Implementation is urgent. States and donors as well as all other stakeholdersneed not wait for international agreements or mechanisms to be in place to start implementing the following:

a. the decisions of UNCSD 2012,

b. the findings of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD),

c. the recommendations on agro-ecology by the United Nations? Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food in his report presented at the 16th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in March 2011,

d. the relevant parts of Chapter 14 of Agenda 21, and

e. UNCSD 16/17, making sure that the views and concerns of small scale food providers are taken into account

f. all points outlined in this document
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