Info Service on UN Sustainable Development (May13/02)
21 May 2013
Third World Network
friends and colleagues,
third session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development
Goals will be held from Wednesday, 22, to Friday, 24 May 2013 at the
UN headquarters in New York. The formulation of SDGs is one of the
major agreed actions from the June 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable
Development. The Co-chairs of the Open Working Group are Ambassadors
Macharia Kamau of Kenya and Csaba Korosi of Hungary.
week's session will address the following clusters of issues: (a)
food security and nutrition, sustainable agriculture; and (b) drought,
desertification, land degradation and water and sanitation. It is
expected that the Programme of Work for 2013-2014 will also be adopted,
making this a key meeting, as the Programme of Work will unquestionably
influence the formulation of the SDGs.
are pleased to share with you a TWN briefing paper on "Important
elements for consideration: Food Security and Nutrition, and Sustainable
Third World Network
elements for consideration: Food Security and Nutrition, and Sustainable
Increase investment in sustainable agriculture
agriculture practices contribute to food security and climate resilience.
Governments should specifically reorient agriculture policies and
significantly increase funding to support biodiverse, sustainable
agriculture, as recommended by the International Assessment on Agricultural
Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD). In The
Future We Want, which is the outcome document of the Rio+20 Conference,
paragraphs 110-113 emphasize the importance of sustainable agriculture
and the need for increased investment in sustainable agricultural
practices. Particularly, in paragraph 111, the need to “maintain natural
ecological processes that support food production systems” is recognized,
which is a nod towards agro-ecological principles.
in-depth assessments of agricultural conditions and policies at
the national level, to identify both barriers to a transition to
sustainable agriculture and gaps in policy, and ensure policy coherence
such that sustainable agriculture is promoted and facilitated.
national agriculture policy frameworks urgently and immediately
on sustainable agriculture. In particular, increase emphasis on
the conservation and use of agricultural biodiversity, building
healthy soils, and developing and sharing water harvesting and other
water management techniques.
a large share of the national agricultural budget to promoting sustainable
agriculture. The support should include mechanisms (both traditional
extension and more far-reaching farmer-to-farmer networking methods)
to train farmers in the best options for sustainable agriculture
techniques, the development of ecological infrastructure including
water supply, improvement of soil fertility, and the provision of
credit and marketing.
fund adoption of agroecological practices that reduce vulnerability
and increase resilience, such as soil-fertility-enriching and climate-resilient
practices (e.g., use of compost to enhance soil health, water storage
and soil quality).
Focus on smallholder farmers and their practices
is the most important sector in many developing countries and is central
to the survival of hundreds of millions of people. Most agricultural
production in these countries involves small land holdings, mainly
producing for self-consumption. Women are the key agricultural producers
and providers. Hence agriculture is critical for food and livelihood
security, and for the approximately 500 million smallholder households,
totaling 1.5 billion people, and living on smallholdings of two hectares
of land or less. Smallholdings account for 85 percent of the world’s
role and needs of rural communities are recognized and rural development
emphasized in paragraph 109 of The Future We Want, including
the need for enhanced access by small producers to credit, markets,
secure land tenure and other services. Paragraph 109 also stresses
the importance of traditional sustainable agricultural practices,
including traditional seed supply systems, including for many indigenous
peoples and local communities. This is important in light of the threats
that undermine and marginalize such systems and the increasing takeover
of the seed supply by a few large multinational corporations.
enhanced access by small producers, women, indigenous peoples and
people living in vulnerable situations to credit and other financial
services, markets, secure land tenure, health care, social services,
education, training, knowledge and appropriate and affordable technologies.
conservation and use of local knowledge and seeds, as well as support
peasant seed systems and community seed banks. In addition, prioritize
participatory and formal plant breeding efforts to adapt seeds for
future environments, particularly increased temperatures.
social safety nets to enable farmers and the rural poor to cope
with external shocks climate-related disasters. This includes implementing
a range of policies that support the economic viability of smallholder
agriculture and thus reduce their vulnerability, for example, improving
access to credit for smallholders; and building and reinforcing
basic infrastructure, such as water supplies and rural roads that
can facilitate access to markets. Special attention and specific
support should be given to women smallholder farmers.
small-scale farmers’, women’s, indigenous and community-based organizations
to, among other objectives: access productive resources, participate
in agricultural decision-making and share sustainable agriculture
Dismantle perverse incentives and subsidies that promote unsustainable
agriculture policies are geared to promoting conventional agriculture
practices that are unsustainable. Perverse incentives, including those
perpetuated under the international trade regime governed by the World
Trade Organization and bilateral free trade agreements, entrench this
unsustainable system. Agricultural incentives and subsidies therefore
need to be redirected away from destructive monocultures and harmful
inputs, towards sustainable agriculture practices of the small-farm
sector. These need to be phased out in a fair and equitable manner,
taking into account the impact on small farmers in developing countries.
and phase out perverse incentives and subsidies that promote or
encourage the use of chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilizers
and fuel, or that encourage land degradation, while ensuring that
impacts on small farmers are addressed in a fair and equitable manner.
the use of synthetic fertilizers by removing tax and pricing policies
that contribute to their overuse.
subsidy priorities such that the initial costs and risks of farmers’
transition efforts to implement sustainable farming practices are
borne by public funds.
the international level, modify key market distortions that act
as a disincentive to the transition to sustainable agricultural
practices in developing countries. These include the significant
subsidization of agricultural production in developed countries
and their export to developing countries. As long as these conditions
prevail, it is difficult to imagine how developing-country producers
can implement a paradigm shift towards sustainable agriculture.
Implement a research and knowledge-sharing agenda towards sustainable
114 of The Future We Want resolves to enhance agricultural
research, extension services, training and education to improve productivity
and sustainability. National and global agricultural research agendas
have been however dominated by conventional agriculture approaches
and the promise of new technologies. Sustainable agriculture has been
sidelined, yet it has thrived and has proven successful despite the
lack of public support. Research and development efforts must be refocused
towards sustainable agriculture, while at the same time strengthening
existing farmer knowledge and innovation. Moreover, current agriculture
research is dominated by the private sector, which focuses on crops
and technologies from which they stand to profit most. This perpetuates
industrial, input-dependent agriculture, rather than solutions for
the challenges facing developing-country farmers.
sustainable agriculture at the forefront of the international and
national agriculture research agendas; this means providing public
resources for sustainable agriculture interventions.
current intellectual property systems that act as drivers towards
corporate consolidation and corporate dominance of agriculture research,
including the issues of patents on living organisms and seeds, as
well as plant variety protection consistent with the strict standards
of UPOV 1991, which may also impinge on farmers’ rights and affect
fund efforts to conserve crop diversity, both in situ and ex situ.
research on sustainable agriculture approaches that mitigate greenhouse
gas emissions from agriculture, such as practices that reduce or
eliminate the use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers.
research priorities in a participatory manner, enabling farmers
to play a central role in defining strategic priorities for agricultural
research; and increase networking and knowledge sharing between
farmers and researchers.
research and extension systems at the national level to support
farmer-to-farmer agroecological innovation; increase the capacities
of farmer and community organizations to innovate; and strengthen
networks and alliances to support, document, and share lessons and
farmers have access to information about sustainable agriculture
practices, through both formal and informal means, including extension
services, farmers’ organizations, climate farmer-to-farmer field
schools and cross-visits.
Build supportive global partnerships
range of international institutions can make positive contributions
by supporting and enabling the adoption of sustainable agriculture.
These institutions should support the range of efforts to be undertaken
at national and regional levels, and cooperate and coordinate efforts
to mobilize necessary resources at the international level. Public
financing and transfer of appropriate technologies by developed countries
are needed not only for the adoption of sustainable agriculture but
also to put in place the required infrastructure, communications and
other enabling conditions. Furthermore, trade commitments made at
the multilateral and bilateral levels must provide developing countries
enough policy space to enable support for the agriculture sector,
expansion of local food production, and effective instruments to provide
for local and household food security, farmers’ livelihoods and rural
development needs. This is needed before farmers in developing countries
can start investing in sustainable agriculture. A universal, rules-based,
open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system
that will promote agricultural and rural development in developing
countries and contribute to world food security is reaffirmed in paragraph
118 of The Future We Want.
sustainable, predictable and significant public funding for sustainable
agriculture, rather than speculative and volatile market-derived
funding. International agencies must play an active role in mobilizing
the scale of the work to promote sustainable agriculture practices
by the Rome-based UN agencies: FAO, WFP, IFAD. This should include
technical support to enable countries to transition to and prioritize
sustainable agriculture, and appropriate policy advice that supports
CGIAR centres to leverage research and research partnerships, and
the funding thereof, which focus on sustainable agriculture, agricultural
biodiversity and small farmers in developing countries.
the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity
and related traditional knowledge systems, including through the
relevant work on agricultural biodiversity carried out by the FAO
and the Convention on Biological Diversity.
the work of the UN for a global framework for corporate accountability,
including the reinstatement of obligations under the aborted UN
Code of Conduct on Transnational Corporations.
the outcomes/decisions of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS),
as the governing body for food, agriculture and rural development
policy and related financial issues at the global level, including
the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure
of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security
and the outcomes of the ongoing discussions on Responsible Agricultural
Investment. (The important work and inclusive nature of the CFS
is reaffirmed in paragraph 115 of The Future We Want.)
export subsidies in agriculture (in line with WTO Hong Kong Declaration
2005) and substantially and effectively reduce agricultural support
and subsidies in developed countries (in line with WTO Doha Declaration
2001) so that distortions in global agricultural trade will be reduced
and developing countries’ farmers will have a more level playing
developing countries’ goals of food security and protection of farmers’
livelihoods in free trade agreements (FTAs). The percentage of goods
to be subjected to tariff elimination by developing countries should
be adjusted if necessary to accommodate the need to exclude sensitive
agricultural products from tariff elimination. Ensure that the FTAs
provide enough policy space to allow sufficiently high tariffs on
agricultural imports that enable the fulfilment of the principles
of food security, farmers’ livelihoods and rural development, and
to allow countries to rebuild and strengthen their agriculture sector.
that commodity markets operate in an adequately regulated manner
that avoids excessive volatility and speculative activities and
serves the real needs of both producers and consumers. Address the
root causes of excessive food price volatility, including its structural
causes, and manage the risks linked to high and excessively volatile
prices and their consequences for global food security and nutrition,
as well as for smallholder farmers and poor urban dwellers (as emphasized
in paragraph 116 of The Future We Want).
Brief is based on Stabinsky, D. and Lim L.C. (2012). Ecological
agriculture, climate resilience and a roadmap to get there. TWN
Environment and Development Series 14. Third World Network, Penang.