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Report from Side Event: Implementing Sustainable Agriculture

Implementing sustainable agriculture
23 Apr 2012 - 23 Apr 2012
1:15 PM - 2:45 PM

Conference Room A, North Lawn Building, United Nations Headquarters, New York

The side event was co-hosted by the Republic of South Africa and organized by:

World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA)
WSPA is a leading international animal welfare organization committed to improve animal welfare worldwide, focusing inter alia on humane, sustainable farming and disaster management.

Biovision Foundation
Biovision works to sustainably improve life for people in Africa while conserving the environment as the basis for all life.
International Partners for Sustainable Agriculture (IPSA)

IPSA is a decentralized New York based civil society network organization that functions as a catalyst and facilitator in global policy processes on sustainable agriculture and food systems.

Mr. Tlou Ramaru, Senior policy advisor for sustainable development and trade cooperation at the Department of Environmental Affairs of the Republic of South Africa, Pretoria.

Ms. Robynne Anderson, Representative of the World Farmers? Organisation at the UN and one of organizing partners for the Farmers Major Group, New York.

Prof. Judi Wakhungu, Executive Director of the African Centre for Technology Studies, Nairobi.

Mr. Thomas Forster, Food and Agriculture policy expert on the faculty of the Food Studies Program at the New School, New York and co-director of IPSA.

Mr. Luis Carlos Sarmiento, Director WSPA South America, Bogota.

The side event was chaired by Dirk Verdonk, Head of Programmes WSPA Netherlands, The Hague.

Key messages from the presentations included:

Country perspective: South Africa (Tlou Ramaru)
Recognizing the importance of sustainable agriculture, South Africa has developed a rich set of policies including programs to enhance access to markets for farmers, micro financing to provide access to credit for smallholder farmers, capacity building, training and farmer-to-farmer mentorship. Continuous engagement with farmers is necessary so that there is awareness of climate issues and understanding that overstocking and overgrazing leads to poor productivity and environmental damage. South Africa continues to strengthen relationships with other African countries

Livelihoods of rural women (Robynne Anderson)
Women lag behind on every Millennium Development Goal, except for the fourth goal of reducing the mortality of children under 5. About 79% of women in developing countries consider agriculture as their primary source of livelihood. Yet, women have a reduced access to productive resources. The outcomes of Rio+20 should make explicit the primary importance of gender equality and contain specific commitments to support women?s access to resources, knowledge, services, education, training and markets.

Proposed views on best practices (Judi Wakhungu)
The achieve a meaningful outcome at Rio+20 with a view to sustainable agriculture and food systems, we need to commit to transform agriculture and food systems by providing strong leadership (political and institutional), a strong link between science/ (local) knowledge and policies, as well as clear priority and support to sustainable practices along the whole agricultural value chain. Monitoring of performance and strengthening of accountability is a prerequisite for success. An enabling framework to improve the economic environment for food producers adopting more sustainable and resilient methods, as well as mechanisms which encourage sustainable consumption should be introduced

Implementation in urban city regions (Thomas Forster)
Urban food and nutrition security is challenged by the effects of climate change, food price volatility, migrations and disasters. Local governments are key actors working with civil society and the private sector to develop a food system approach and multilevel governance with actions that will benefit both rural and urban areas. CSD17 and the CFS have already recognized the importance of urban rural linkages for food security. The Rio+20 outcome documents and voluntary commitments must include both general and specific links between the agendas for sustainable cities and food security in the context of the green economy.

Sustainable livestock practices (Luis Carlos Sarmiento)
The rearing and use of livestock has major environmental and social impacts and importance. Ensuring the welfare and responsible use of livestock is an effective tool to help achieve sustainable development, deliver poverty alleviation and enhance wellbeing − as case studies from all over the world can illustrate. The outcome of Rio+20 should make explicit that sustainable livestock production is of critical importance for achieving sustainable development.

The presentations provoked a fruitful discussion covering, inter alia, the governance dimension and the role of the World Committee on Food Security on implementation, the issue of trade affecting potentially developing countries and the complexity of this recurrent theme and the two sides of livestock production, on the one hand being part of the problem when crops are grown as feed, creating enormous environmental footprint, on the other hand being part of the solution when large herbivores are deployed to restore the world?s grasslands, thus preserving biodiversity and sequestering carbon.

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