inside: How to create resilient agriculture The female face of farming
a multi-stakeholder magazine on climate change and sustainable development
out reach. 25 April 2012
contents. 1 2 3
How to create resilient agriculture Livelihoods, Water and higher-welfare farming: an alternative pathway Chain reaction: Collaboration needed to increase uptake of sustainable palm oil across the supply chain
Water wars on the driest continent on Earth
Food security: The food system concept
Vue du terrain
Views from the Field
Hope in new scientific insights to avoid global agricultural tragedy
The Female Face of Farming
Disappearing bees, bumblebees and biodiversity: A cautionary tale
Business Leaders support a bold outcome on corporate sustainability reporting at Rio+20
Cities and Regions together towards Rio+20
Rio+20 Side Event Calendar
Reflections on the negotiations
8 pic: Roel Groeneveld
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Outreach is a multi-stakeholder publication on climate change and sustainable development. It is the longest continually produced stakeholder magazine in the sustainable development arena, published at various international meetings on the environment; including the UNCSD meetings (since 1997), UNEP Governing Council, UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP) and World Water Week. Published as a daily edition, in both print and web form, Outreach provides a vehicle for critical analysis on key thematic topics in the sustainability arena, as well as a voice of regional and local governments, women, indigenous peoples, trade unions, industry, youth and NGOs. To fully ensure a multistakeholder perspective, we aim to engage a wide range of stakeholders for article contributions and project funding.
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OUTREACH EDITORIAL TEAM Felix Dodds
Jessica Wolf Design
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Vicki Hird
Climate Youth Japan
Imperial College London
University of Leeds
Zoological Society of London
World Farmers Organisation
Mount Holyoke College
University of Oxford
How to create resilient agriculture Gordon Conway Professor of International Development, The Agriculture for Impact Programme, Imperial College London This article was first published by Science and Development Network (www.scidev.net/en/) Food security is critical to the mission of Rio+20. The threats are numerous: repeated food price spikes; shortages of good-quality land and water; rising energy and fertiliser prices; and the consequences of climate change. Already, somewhere between 900 million and a billion people are chronically hungry, and by 2050 agriculture will have to cope with these threats while feeding a growing population with changing dietary demands. This will require doubling food production, especially if we are to build up reserves for climatic extremes. To do this requires sustainable intensification — getting more from less — on a durable basis.
Combining traditional and technological Farmers around the world will need to produce more food and other agricultural products on less land, with fewer pesticides and fertilisers, less water and lower outputs of greenhouse gases. This must be done on a large scale, and more cheaply than current farming methods allow. It will also have to be sustainable — that is, it must last. For this to happen, the intensification will have to be resilient. The latest report of the expert Montpellier Panel, lays out a vision of agricultural growth for Sub-Saharan Africa that is resilient — able to withstand or recover from stresses and shocks. The report makes specific recommendations around resilient agriculture, resilient people and resilient markets. Developing resilient agriculture will require technologies and practices that build on agro-ecological knowledge and enable smallholder farmers to counter environmental degradation and climate change in ways that maintain sustainable agricultural growth. Examples include various forms of mixed cropping that enable more efficient use and cycling of soil nutrients, conservation farming, microdosing of fertilisers and herbicides, and integrated pest management. These are proven technologies that draw on ecological principles. Some build on traditional practices, with numerous examples working on a small scale. In Zambia, conservation farming, a system of minimum or notill agriculture with crop rotations, has reduced water requirements by up to 30% and used new drought-tolerant hybrids to produce up to five tons of maize per hectare — five times the average yield for Sub-Saharan Africa. The imperative now is scaling up such systems to reach more farmers.
Another solution is to increase the use of modern plant and animal breeding methods, including biotechnology. These have been successful in providing resistance to various pests of maize, sorghum, cowpeas, groundnuts and cotton; to diseases of maize, bananas and livestock. These methods can help build resilience rapidly. We need to combine them with biotechnology-based improvements in yield through improved photosynthesis, nitrogen uptake, resistance to drought and other impacts of climate change. Agro-ecology and modern breeding methods are not mutually exclusive. Building appropriate, improved crop varieties into ecological agricultural systems can boost both productivity and resilience.
Enabling environments The Montpellier Panel report recommends that governments, the private sector, and non-governmental organisations work together to help develop resilient and sustainable intensification; combat land and water degradation; and build climate-smart agriculture, such as conservation farming. These partnerships can also build the resilience of people by increasing the reach of successful nutrition interventions and building diverse livelihoods, especially by focusing on rural women and young people. The report particularly recommends taking part in the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) framework that aims to greatly reduce the number children with stunted growth, which stands at roughly 50 million in Sub-Saharan Africa alone. The report also describes how to achieve resilient markets that enable farmers to increase production, take risks and generate income through innovation while ensuring food is available at an affordable price. Creating grain stores and opening up trade across Africa can reduce food price volatility. The continent also needs more private investments and public–private partnerships that will encourage increased production. Developing agriculture with resilience depends on science, technology and innovation; but there are no silver bullets. We need strong political leadership. An example is Ghana, where agricultural GDP has risen by 5% each year for the past decade and the Millennium Development Goal of halving hunger by 2015 has already been achieved. This is a crucial year. The sequence of G8, G20 and Rio+20 meetings provides a ready platform for the international community to coordinate policies and intensify investments. I am optimistic that agricultural development and food security will be priorities, and an agenda based on agricultural growth with resilience will be a key outcome.
Livelihoods, Water and higher-welfare farming: Vicki Hird an alternative pathway Consultant on Humane Sustainable Agriculture, WSPA Industrial farming is not an inevitability. WSPA and Compassion in World Farming recently released a joint report on the use of freshwater in agriculture - Freshwater Use and Farm Animal Welfare. The report included staggering evidence that: • One quarter of all global freshwater use is for animal production, mostly to grow animal feeds; and • Producing grain-based animal feeds uses 43 times more irrigation water per kilogram of feed than is needed for grass-based animal feeds. But evidence suggests that more extensive, grazing-based systems can reduce pressure on scarce water resources, whilst often providing better animal welfare. In addition, grazing systems can make use of marginal lands which are not suited for crop production; an efficient use of the world’s food production resources. The drive for increased meat production relies on increasing the amount of grain feed to livestock. As a result, industrial farming, notably for pork and beef, can have high irrigation water use, generate more pollution and fail to achieve the efficiencies expected. To protect freshwater, better global governance of food supplies and investment in sustainable humane systems, rather than further industrialisation, will be the way to feeding the world. Livelihoods too can be enhanced in higher welfare systems. A new briefing WSPA has published - Animal and human welfare hand-in-hand: How animal welfare can boost jobs and livelihoods - reveals the extent to which livestock are a contributor to food security and livelihoods. Livestock provide food, income and assets; contribute to crop production; and provide a social safety net for their owners. Increasing animal productivity to meet the growing demand for food has resulted in unintended consequences for jobs, livelihoods and food security, without always benefitting the rural poor or urban consumer. This briefing explores how improvements in animal welfare can boost the livelihoods of livestock owners – small and large – and others employed at various steps of the food chain, and create jobs. Contrary to perceived wisdom, improvements in animal welfare do not necessarily lead to an increase in production costs. They can be introduced in the framework of other measures to advance the sustainability of the livestock system.
WSPA’s growing body of evidence from around the world shows that where industrial farming swiftly uses up our precious natural resources, the humane and sustainable treatment of farms animals can actually increase food security and economic growth, and have environmental benefits. Public support is growing for this – a petition of over 108,000 signatures will be handed over to the Rio+20 Secretariat in April, showing growing global support for measures which enhance welfare for people, animals and the planet. WSPA proposes that, at Rio+20, the United Nations and stakeholders specifically refer to the vital role of livestock and set a pathway for livestock production that is based on high welfare, strong livelihoods and environmental protection. Governments must support and develop humane and sustainable agriculture systems; manage demand for animal products; and phase out support for unsustainable and inhumane farming systems. In conclusion, increasingly, the wellbeing of animals is acknowledged as crucial to the future of people and our planet. We hope the final Rio+20 outcomes reflect this.
Chain reaction: Collaboration needed to increase
uptake of sustainable palm oil across the supply chain Sophia Gnych Biodiversity and Palm Oil Project Developer, Zoological Society of London
The issues surrounding palm oil are numerous and are often difficult to navigate. Oil palm produces the greatest yields per hectare of any vegetable oil crop, but the high levels of rainfall and sunlight it requires to grow puts it in direct competition with tropical rainforest. Increasing demand for palm oil therefore results in the deforestation of thousands of hectares of tropical rainforest every year. The Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was established in 2004 to try to mitigate the effects of this growth. The RSPO certification scheme creates a sustainable standard for palm growers to follow. However, poor communication along the length of the supply chain, combined with low levels of awareness and understanding of sustainability issues amongst consumers and retailers has resulted in the supply of Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) exceeding demand. The RSPO has often come under heavy criticism from both the media and civil society groups, both of whom argue that membership is too easy to obtain and is dominated by growers who flout their commitments and responsibilities. A number of damaging stories have emerged which demonstrate blatant non-compliance by growers – such as the conversion of primary tropical forest – leading to accusations of insufficient enforcement. However, the 8th General Assembly of the RSPO hosted in March of this year indicated a change in direction. Manufacturing and retailing membership within the RSPO increased by 60% and 50% respectively in 2011, giving rise to greater representation of downstream standards and consumer concerns. The significance of this shift in membership was illustrated by commitment to timebound action plans for all members, and the rejection of a proposed shift from a majority vote to proportional representation in the RSPO voting system; a decision that would have left the RSPO process at the mercy of certain member groups, potentially stalling future progress. The attention afforded to the RSPO has resulted in it being one of the most active and dynamic certification bodies. This year it is carrying out an essential review of its principles and criteria (P&Cs) and a full consultative process is underway. There is pressure from some
members to move from process to output based P&Cs, a decision that would increase transparency and reliability of member management practices and improve enforcement But the ongoing changes within the RSPO need the support of the market to underpin the business proposition of sustainable palm oil. To encourage sustainable agricultural practices, companies must communicate. Knowledge sharing between the different stages of the supply chain is vital. Larger companies leading the way in sustainability, such as Unilever, should actively participate and share lessons learned. PT SMART, one of the worlds largest suppliers of palm oil, recently committed to improving practices as a result of down stream manufacturers and NGOs working together to promote a change. Boycotting palm oil is not the answer either as its derivatives are found in a huge variety of products internationally. Instead, retailers and manufacturers must harness the consumer driven power for change and promote brand awareness, such as the new RSPO trademark label. In 2011 growers produced 4,798,512 mt of CSPO, yet only 2,490,526 mt was sold. Agricultural supply chains are inherently complex and can seem unmanageable when attempting to improve environmental and social practices. It is the responsibility of organisations such as the RSPO, not only to develop and enforce certification criteria, but also to support and facilitate member cooperation to promote sustainable business. The ‘Green Agenda’ can no longer just be championed by NGOs; companies within the supply chain itself must work together and prove their commitment.
MORE INFO This year the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) will be developing an online Palm Oil Resource Centre with support from the RSPO, BACP and the SAFE project. The resource centre will provide a one-stop-shop for palm oil and will clarify the issues for all stakeholders along the length of the palm oil supply chain by providing access to accurate, up-to-date information, delivering practical tools for improving sustainability in an organisation’s supply chain and engaging with manufacturers, retailers and consumers to encourage the uptake of CSPO. For more information about the website and how you can actively participate please contact Sophia Gnych, Biodiversity and Palm Oil Project Developer (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Water wars on the driest continent on Earth Lolo Houbein
Australia, the driest continent on earth, has but one major river system. The Murray-Darling feeds four states before reaching the Great Southern Ocean. Most agriculture takes place
pic: Oxfam International
in its basin. Frequent droughts and irrigation over-use almost killed the Murray River when it no longer reached the ocean and the Lower Lakes dried up, ruining agriculture and killing thousands of animals and some people. In 2010-2011, good rains brought respite, although rains of 100-300mm a day caused disastrous floods in eastern states, destroying major food crops. In 2012, the weather turned from rainproducing La Ninya to the droughtprone El Ninyo system prevailing in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Australia has no water policy, although consultations have been taking place for years. With a hung federal parliament, politicians tried to please everyone, the result being that neither irrigators nor scientists agree with proposed regulations. The two lower states are building desalination plants. The Queensland city of Toowoomba, with approximately 133,000 residents, saved tonnes of rate payers money through a deal made with local farmers. Instead of treating the city sewage water they released it into a designated creek leading to farmlands for irrigation, producing on average $150 million worth of crops per year. The city council promised the release would never be less than 20 mega litres per day. Without farmers setting up irrigation infrastructure this water would have polluted the MurrayDarling River system. Someone in Toowoomba deserved a medal for Green Economy. But five years ago a mining company came to town, proposing to open a coalmine nearby called New Hope and they needed water to run it. They offered the council big money. The council took the money and cut off the water supply to the farmers. Some gave up farming and one went into silo storage. Others hope to adjust to dry
land farming on rainfall. This region has experienced devastating droughts in the past and without the townâ€™s sewage water, agriculture would never have developed the way it did. The farmers are taking the council to court, even though they had no contract, as this was a deal done for mutual benefit on a firm promise. The Australian mining industry has rights to explore for anything that can be mined, on any piece of land, including farmland. The relatively recent industry of coal seam gas mining got off to a great start in Queensland with government approval for the cracking of 40,000 wells. The industry also works in New South Wales, with the entire rest of Australia in its gaze for future exploration. The cracking of wells to capture coal seam gas involves chemicals and brings up salt. Farmers relying on water from the interconnected aquifer system that underlies the continent are up in arms, as agriculture will become unviable when their water supplies become polluted. The Lock the Gates Alliance has erected signs on farm gates to warn mining personnel not to trespass. Sooner or later they will go to court to save their farms and livelihoods. Many affected farms lie in Australiaâ€™s most fertile valleys, providing food for big cities and export. They have put up with coal mining for years, but coal seam gas cracking may well be the straw that breaks the camelâ€™s back. Being a camel country, farmers may have no other choice but to become nomadic herders. Australia, with its small population, used to be self-reliant when it came to feeding itself, but now imports half its food. The country could be self-sufficient again, as well as keep up exports, if only decision makers would bravely take measures to return the only major river system to sound health, ban mining companies from sensitive farmlands and groundwater networks, and instructed councils to get green and give farmers first call on recyclable water from towns and cities. Without courageous decisions, the water wars of Australia will kill off agriculture. The population will be dependent on food imports from countries that need the money but can barely feed their own people. Intergovernmental discussions at Rio should consider how global food security would be affected if sustainable Australian farming collapses.
Food security: The food system concept Dr John Ingram NERC Food Security Leader and UK Global Food Security Programme Coordination Group University of Oxford, UK Professor Tim Benton Food Security Champion, UK Global Food Security Programme, University of Leeds, UK Food security occurs when “all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life” (FAO World Food Summit, 1996). Globally, food production has kept ahead of demand for many years, yet about one billion people currently do not have access to sufficient calories; a further billion do not have access to adequate nutrition. This is due to a combination of biophysical, socioeconomic and political factors. New concepts, tools and methods are needed to understand, improve governance of, and thereby better manage the complex interactions between these factors if such food insecurity is to be overcome. This is especially the case at the regional (i.e. sub-continental) level, where many stakeholder groups and actors are involved in setting policies and taking decisions that affect food security outcomes. However, the food security challenge is accentuated by the fact that, in many parts of the world, food production is brought about by environmentally unsustainable methodologies (including those that degrade soils, poorly manage water, pollute water courses and create new agricultural land by deforestation, leading to biodiversity loss and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions). Increasing global food production sustainably, while also increasing equitable access to food, is perhaps the biggest challenge of our times.
pic: International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center
Food security is underpinned by food systems. The food system concept – which integrates an understanding of the activities of producing, distributing, trading and consuming food with the food security outcomes relating to access, availability and utilisation of food – provides a robust framework for food policy research and planning. Effective food security policy agendas therefore need to not only encompass all these activities and outcomes, but also note the range of biophysical, socioeconomic and political food system drivers across and along spatial, temporal and jurisdictional scales. This is because food insecurity arises from the vulnerability of the food system
to combinations of stresses induced from changes in these drivers. The ability to overcome these stresses, and thereby enhance food security, would be increased if policy and technical options were considered more specifically at regional level, in addition to at local and global levels. This is however challenging, due to the diversity of stakeholder groups operating at this level (e.g. government and NGOs; researchers and research funders; and business and civil society) all of whom have their own objectives. Further, there are numerous interactions with higher and lower levels on these scales, and insufficient knowledge and awareness of actions taken at these other levels often leads to ‘scale challenges’. In particular, the overall food system is linked, across scales, by many different mechanisms. Thus agricultural management in one site can impact both locally and regionally (e.g. via downstream pollution, water extraction), contribute to overall GHGs emissions, with a longer-term global consequence, or create perturbations acting through the market that incentivise changes in management (with other knock on consequences) elsewhere. Improved understanding of how food systems operate will help food security planning by identifying where, when and how vulnerability arises; and hence what sorts of adaptation interventions are needed, and where and when they would be most effective. Understanding can be enhanced by integrating concepts from production ecology, agroecology and human ecology with concepts of food systems and scales, to develop the notion of ‘food system ecology’. For example, the increasing recognition that the environment provides services that are societally valuable (ecosystem services) needs to inform management decisions much more than it has before hand. Loss of a forest fragment in the tropics can impact on local livelihoods by impacting on availability of not only fuel and forage, but also pollination and natural pest control, local soil erosion and soil quality, local rainfall and the emission of GHGs and loss of biodiversity, with the broad consequences these bring globally. Thinking within the food system concept not only helps identify the many biophysical and socioeconomic interactions across the range of activities, drivers and scales that determine food security, but also provides a framework for addressing three key issues: increasing the efficiency with which inputs to the food system are used, enhancing sustainability in general, and enhancing food system governance.
Vue du terrain Kantarama Césarie
AN ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF THIS ARTICLE IS GIVEN ON THE FACING PAGE.
Femme rurale veuve et agricultrice du RWANDA. Mère et productrice, la femme rurale est la clé de l’entretien de la famille, de la sécurité alimentaire ainsi qu’au développement durable.
qualité de mon implication dans la communauté et la conduite de mon exploitation agricole. Le fait d’assurer la présidence de différentes associations m’a poussé à faire de mon mieux pour servir de modèle. C’est ainsi que je suis partie de l’agriculture d’autosubsistance à celle qui me permet de bien nourrir mes enfants et génère un excédent grâce auquel je les envoie à l’école, investis dans le développement de mon exploitation, contribue à la vie de la communauté et arrive même à faire quelques économies.
Elle joue un rôle sur toute la chaine de production agricole. Malgré le rôle crucial qu’elle joue dans la société, c’est elle qui est la plus pauvre, la plus vulnérable, la moins dotée de capacités et de ressources qui lui permet de prévaloir ses droits et ses intérêts. Pour faire face à cette problématique, la femme rurale appuyée par la volonté politique des pays concernés et leurs acteurs de développement, a avancer à travers ses associations et coopératives et autres ….. à changer sa mentalité et sa façon de faire même si les progrès réalisés ne sont pas à la même échelle. Mon expérience m’a démontré que la réussite ne tient pas du hasard : ce n’est qu’à partir de 1995, année marquant le début de mon adhésion à diverses organisations agricoles, que ma production s’est véritablement mise à augmenter. Mon secret étant l’amour de la terre et du travail, le courage et la persévérance qui sont mes valeurs fondamentales ; j’accorde beaucoup d’importance à la formation et je m’intéresse à tout ce qui me permet d’améliorer la
Dans le même cadre , j’ai reçu un certificat de reconnaissance de mérite exceptionnel accordé par LA FONDATION DE LA FAMMILLE TERRIENNE du Québec au Canada , en vertu de mon engagement en agriculture, de mon rayonnement familial, de ma compétence professionnelle , de mon souci du patrimoine et de mon sens social.
Référence à mon expérience: Pour la communauté internationale, appuyer la femme rurale est l’une des meilleures stratégies d’atteindre rapidement le développement en général. Pour mes sœurs, les femmes rurales, considérant les retards que nous avons connu dans différents domaines, il convient de nous regrouper en associations et coopératives pour joindre nos efforts afin de pouvoir établir des liens de collaboration avec d’autres acteurs de développement, ce qui nous permettra d’améliorer d’avantage notre positionnement dans la chaine de valeur et d’accéder aux différents services sociaux et autres.
LE MONDE EST AVEC CELUI QUI EST DEBOUT (proverbe Africain)
pic: Adam Cohn
Views from the Field CĂŠsarie Kantarama Ms Kantarama is a widowed woman and a smallholder farmer from Rwanda where she raises eight children, including 3 adopted. Her thoughts are translated below from French. Both as mother and producer, a rural woman is the key for a good family life, food security and sustainable development. She is active at all different stages in the agricultural value/production chain. Despite the crucial role she plays in society, rural women belong to the poorest and most vulnerable section of society, with the lowest level of capabilities and resources to defend their rights and interests. To address these challenges, rural women have been supported by the political will of concerned countries and by actors of development organisations. They have made a step forward, thanks to associations, cooperatives and other initiatives, changing their thinking and their habits. Still there is a long way to go to make progress for all. In my case, progress started in 1995, when I became member of my farmer organisation, and that is when my production really started to evolve. My secret is loving the land and working hard. Courage and perseverance are my fundamental values. I care for education, training, anything that improves my contribution to the local community and for my own farm. Serving as a President for several associations has led me to do my best and to be seen as a role model.
pic: John Kotsopoulos
That is how I made the transition from subsistence agriculture to a new way of farming, which allows me to feed my children properly, as well as generating a surplus making it possible for my children to go to school, to invest in the development of my farm, and to contribute to the life of the community. In this context, I have been given a certificate of recognition of exceptional merit from the Canadian FOUNDATION FOR THE EARTH FAMILY of Quebec in virtue of my commitment in farming, of my influence in my family circle, of my professional skills, my care for our common heritage and my sense of duty.
Referring to my own experience: Supporting rural women should be properly recognised by the international community as one of the best strategies to rapidly reach broad development goals. For my sisters and rural women counterparts, looking at the backwardness we have been experiencing in various domains, it is necessary to gather in associations and cooperatives to unite our efforts in order to consistently improve our position in the value-chain and to access community care.
THE WORLD IS WITH THE ONE WHO STANDS (African proverb)
pic: David Bygott
Hope in new scientific insights to avoid global Allan Savory agricultural tragedy Savory Institute
Approximately 18% of the world’s land is used for agriculture, however 80% of this figure is accounted for by non-cropland agriculture. In many of Earth’s most troubled regions, countries typically have only 1% to 5% cropland, with the rest being home to once thriving pastoral people. Today global agriculture produces more eroding soil than food. Agriculture has been the primary driver of all major man-made desertification and results in the burning of more than a billion hectares of grasslands each year in Africa alone. It also contributes to ever increasing droughts, floods, poverty, emigration, violence, suffering and cultural genocide, which are often wrongly attributed to climate change. When we weigh up the carbon emissions from expanding desertification, the destruction of soil and biological communities, the burning of biomass , as well as the destruction of tropical forests, it is clear that the contribution of agriculture to climate change is equal to, or maybe more than, that of fossil fuels. Consequently, climate change is likely to continue in a post-fossil fuel world, unless we address desertification and unsustainable agriculture.
agricultural methods which mimic nature, in the 1960s military battlefield planning was adapted to help solve this complex biological equation. What emerged from these efforts was a system known as holistic planned grazing. Today holistic planned grazing is being practiced on over 20 million hectares worldwide and represents perhaps the most powerful tool for reversing desertification at our disposal. The picture below is of a ranch in the Karroo Desert of Africa. This desert was once a vast grassland supporting millions of antelope of many species. As these were exterminated and replaced with a far smaller number of cattle and eventually sheep, desertification took hold. Yet in the 1970s a programme of planned grazing with double the number of cattle was introduced, directly attempting to mimic previous natural conditions. After only a relatively short space of time, the grasslands at this ranch - like thousands of others that have followed the holistic planned grazing model - have been restored.
Whether through using new technologies, burning, or land resting methods, conventional attempts to combat desertification -currently occurring on about two thirds of the Earth’s land – remain insufficient. No other ‘tool’ is considered and livestock are vilified almost as much as fossil fuels, for causing both land degradation and climate change. Seasonally humid grasslands and savannahs both develop over millennia, with vast herding herbivores, soils, plants and pack hunting predators collectively constituting complex yet stable natural ecosystems. However devoid of adequate disturbance from the hooves of herding herbivores and the return of nutrients to the soil from dying vegetation, land in these regions desertifies. The persistence of severe desertification on land managed by the US National Parks service despite over 70 years of research with no livestock and vast sums spent on technological interventions are testament to this reality. Yet today most large wild herbivores have been exterminated, leaving livestock as the only viable mechanism to perform this function. Thousands of years of conventional herding has led to creation of the great man made deserts we possess today. This has been greatly accelerated by one hundred years of modern crop rotation and the widespread use of agricultural fencing. To change such deeply embedded practices to create
Yet despite countless examples such as this, there remains an urgent need for public education if we are to end the vilification of the only method which can feasibly address desertification’s role in poverty, migration and climate change. Soil scientists estimate that the world’s grasslands alone can sequester the entire carbon legacy load. Perhaps more importantly, however, this can be done without the unintended consequences that almost always follow technological solutions to nature’s complexity. Desertification cannot be reversed by technological innovation or other orthodox more methods, yet the Rio+20 process has so far failed to both adequately consider the full implications of continued land degradation, as well the most effective solution to this problem. Without injecting new scientific insights such as the holistic planned grazing model into the international consciousness, business as usual will prevail and we will journey ever closer to a global tragedy beyond imagination.
The Female Face of Farming Robynne Anderson Main Representative to UN, World Farmers Organisation As the Rio+20 negotiations progress, the contributions and challenges faced by one half of the world’s population remain largely ignored and underrepresented. Most of the world’s poor live in rural areas and are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity. Half of that population – women – faces additional vulnerabilities and constraints, but also constitutes the backbone of communities’ livelihoods, well-being and food security. Given the critical role women play in the life of rural communities and economies, and the persistent challenges and inequalities they face in performing those roles, it is critical that the outcomes of the Rio+20 reaffirm the importance of their functions and contribution and undertake concrete actions to increase the empowerment and capacity of rural women. Women account for 60% to 80% of smallholder farmers and produce 90% of food in Africa and about half of all food worldwide. Yet in sub-Saharan Africa, only 15% of landholders are women and they receive less than 10% of credit and 7% of extension services. Inequalities go beyond access to resources and the sharing of household tasks and caring activities. Women tend to be employed for labour-intensive tasks, generally earn lower wages than men and are more likely to be paid at piece rate. For example, in the casual agricultural labour market in Africa, women's casual wages (whether in cash or in kind) are usually half of men's wages. Yet, women are key to food and nutrition security and sustainable development. Estimates suggest that policies that address gender inequalities could, conservatively, increase yields on women’s farms by 2.5% to 4%. This additional yield could reduce the number of undernourished people in the world by 100-150 million. Rio+20 aims at closing implementation gaps and providing new impetus towards sustainable development. To do so, closing the gender gaps and addressing inequalities should be the very first priority for governments. We need to empower rural women through policies that help them in growing food, marketing their produce, adapting to a changing climate, but also that support their caring activities and enable them to connect and lead their communities. Among the priorities for Rio+20 for rural women, there are a number where concrete commitments can be made in June and where there exists strong evidence of the positive impacts these actions could have.
Improving access to secure land tenure should be a very first step. Without secure access, women face ongoing instability, are vulnerable to changes in their family situations, and lack the kind of guarantee needed to access financial services. The Committee on Food Security just finalised its Voluntary Guidelines on Governance of Tenure of Land and these should form the basis of a proactive commitment from governments in Rio to address the glaring inequalities that exist in this area. Access to resources, such as land, needs to be supported by knowledge and access to information. Extension services worldwide have suffered from declining public financial support – this trend needs to be reversed and specific attention needs to be paid to shaping and creating extension services and other knowledge sharing and information systems that meet the needs of women and to which they can easily have access. Decision makers in Rio should commit to increasing support for extensions services and, building on new communication technologies, support the creation of information-sharing systems that empower women and give them access to markets, price information and agronomic knowledge. Women also need access to the support services that can help them be leaders for their communities and mitigate risks. Improving access to financial services, in particular credit and insurance, as well as creating supportive structures such as cooperatives and leadership training, should be key elements of governments’ commitments to closing the gender gap in rural areas and truly empowering women. Rio+20 is an opportunity that should not be missed. Empowering and investing in rural women makes sense, not only for women, but for everyone. Areas where we need to empower women smallholder farmers: • Growing • Marketing • Adapting • Caring • Connecting • Leading
MORE INFO www.worldfarmersorganisation.com www.worldfarmersorganisation.com/img/user/file/Rural Women Submission by World Farmers.pdf
Disappearing bees, bumblebees and biodiversity: Sharifin Gardiner
Although the number of cultivated honeybees is growing worldwide, there has been an alarming decline in North America and Europe, labelled as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), prompting much publicity and research. In the USA alone, bumblebee numbers have declined by 96% and their range has shunk by up to 87%. This mirrors the collapse of insect and wild plant populations in these countries, and impacts on the native plants which they used to pollinate, which is an example of ‘the 6th Great Extinction’, as the enormous loss of natural ecosystems continues worldwide. While staple, starchy foods are not pollinated by bees, about one third of our food, particularly high value foods, come from dicotyledons: vegetables, fruit and nuts which are pollinated by honeybees and bumblebees. Their unit value is about five times that of staple crops. Bees’ contribution to the production of crops globally has been estimated at between €22 and €57 billion per year, over $20 billion in the USA alone. Soybeans, squashes and other food crops and can be self-pollinated, but pollination by bees and bumblebees increases production substantially.
Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and its effects The decline of cultivated and wild honeybees in the USA became critical in 2006. Each spring, commercial beekeepers from all over the USA bring bees to pollinate the almond orchards in California. By February 2007, migratory beekeepers were reporting losses of 30% to 90% of their colonies. In 2008-09, average losses were 23% and in 2009-10 losses rose to 42%. Production in the US has fallen from a peak of nearly 200 million lbs in 2003, to an estimated 150-160 million lbs in 2011. This is attributed to CCD, the conversion of forage crops to cash crops, and urbanisation. In recent years, wet weather in the West and droughts in the South has also hampered production. Competition from imports from countries with lower labour costs has also been a factor. This has caused great concern in the USA, where bee pollination has been estimated to be worth $20 billion. Some possible causes of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) are given below:
Pesticides The wide use of pesticides contaminates the environment, and bees have their immune systems damaged by pesticide residues in pollen and nectar. In 2005, a study found 66 pesticides in one hive. Recent research in the
A cautionary tale
USA and Canada found 121 pesticides in 887 samples. A cocktail of pesticides increases the toxic effect by a factor of 10 to 100 or more. Bees are harvesting pollen, laced with lethal poison and feeding it to their young, making the honey we eat also contaminated, unless it comes from a pesticide free source.
Crop monocultures and GM crops lead to malnutrition Large areas of country in the Americas and in parts of Europe are planted almost exclusively a very small range of crops or with monocultures, which exclude biodiversity and deprive bees of a range of plants from which they can collect pollen. This leads to malnutrition or starvation. Some beekeepers even give bees supplementary food in the winter. The use of high fructose corn syrup derived from GM corn, contaminated by pesticides or modified with Bt toxin for pest resistance may weaken bees’ resistance to pests and diseases.
Control of pests and pathogens. Verroa destructor or ‘Vampire’ mites are a major pest which suck the blood and weaken bees’ immune systems. They also spread viruses. The use of chemicals to control mites quickly leads to the development of resistance, and commercial beekeepers are put onto a treadmill of using more and more different chemicals. When fungi and virus are present together toxicity is multiplied and rapid collapse is likely. A study of US apiaries identified a virus’ presence together with the micro fungi Nosema in many collapsed colonies. This co-infection is a probable cause of bee losses in US and elsewhere.
Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) It has been suspected that mobile phones and communications masts may have negative effects on bees. A number of studies show that EMR could also be a contributing factor to CDD, but further research is needed.
Pollution Pollutants that affect the chemicals used by flowers to attract insects destroy the scent trails that bees use. In some places, scents that could travel over 800m in the 1800s now reach less than 200m, reducing bees’ ability to locate their food.
Business Leaders support a bold outcome on corporate sustainability reporting at Rio+20 Yesterday, at the annual meeting of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in Montreux, Switzerland, the WBCSD and the Global Reporting Initiative launched a letter inviting business leaders to call upon governments to agree to set up a global policy framework on corporate sustainability reporting, as an outcome of Rio+20. The letter (below) sends a clear message that an important and forward looking group from the business community supports clear policy frameworks that would enable companies to better deliver sustainable development outcomes.
Business Leaders Call upon Governments to include explicit sustainability reporting requirements in the outcome document of Rio+20 We, business leaders from around the world, urge governments to commit to concrete action at Rio+20 to create enabling conditions for business to accelerate sustainability, in particular by requiring all companies to start measuring and reporting sustainability performance and impacts. Recalling the key importance attached to the role of business in the change towards a Green Economy, and that sustainability actions are necessary for the long-term viability of national economies, society, and the environment; a global framework for sustainability reporting has been developed by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) with business, civil society and organizations such as the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), UNGC, UNEP and OECD; and that WBCSD, UNGC, the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) and others have developed numerous tools to help business move toward a sustainable economy, using successful and profitable business models; Recognizing that there is evidence that sustainability reporting drives the improved focus of companies; and that sustainability reporting can help governments, civil society and responsible investors assess and monitor the contribution by business to sustainable development and the green economy; and that sustainability reporting is an essential contributor to adequate risk analyses, impact assessments and investment decisions by the financial sector. In spite of these important benefits, thousands of companies have not yet embarked upon this practice which leads to the conclusion that the current voluntary transition to sustainability reporting is too slow to meet future challenges; Recognizing that governments play a key role in ensuring that all businesses play their part; and that paragraph 24 of the Zero Draft Document could be strengthened by requiring companies to report their sustainability following internationally recognized standards or explain why if they do not. Making sustainability reporting the expected practice would increase the number of reporting companies, enhance the volume and quality of data available, raise awareness about sustainability issues among investors and the public; and building on other calls such as the March 2012 Letter of the WBCSD and IUCN to heads of delegation and the investor led Corporate Sustainability Reporting Coalition, convened by Aviva Investors; We call upon and urge heads of delegations, ministers and heads of state to: •
Recognize the need to strengthen paragraph 24 of the Zero Draft Document by including the explicit requirement for all listed and large (public and private) companies to report their sustainability performance through sustainability reporting on a report or explain basis. If sustainable development is to be reached, the time has now come for sustainability reporting to become standard practice.
• Give a mandate to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to develop a process and a timeframe to establish this global policy framework, and report back at the next session of the Assembly General. • Encourage small and medium sized companies (SMEs) to further engage in sustainability reporting, because it is good for business, society and the environment. Please send your name, the name of your company and country to
Spring 2012 Geneva – Amsterdam
Cities and Regions together towards Rio+20 Natalène Poisson UCLG
On 23rd April, a High-level Local and Regional Authorities’ delegation presented eight recommendations to the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, to achieve sustainable cities and regions. United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) and UNHabitat, with the support of Cities Alliance, gathered local and subnational government leaders, and their main worldwide networks, together at a meeting in New York, where they presented their key messages towards Rio+20 to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, United Nations officials and representatives of national delegations.
Mr. Kadir Topbas, Mayor of Istanbul and UCLG President, affirmed that local and regional governance should be clearly included in the international institutional framework of Rio+20. The UCLG President also stated that Rio+20 should set the ground for the Habitat III Conference and that a clear role should be devoted to local and regional authorities in the Post 2015 development agenda.
Local and regional authorities engaged in a dialogue with the Group of Friends of Sustainable Cities on how to ensure that the views of local and sub-national governments are included.
The Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Dr. Joan Clos, emphasised the importance of urbanisation as a key to sustainable cities. “Nowadays, more than half of the population is living in urban areas and we are living a unique phenomenon of urban population increase. We call to prioritise sustainable urban development through good urban design, urban legislation, economy and governance to face the challenges of the 21st Century”.
Local and regional leaders presented the joint Messages of Local and Sub-national Governments, signed by UCLG, ICLEI, C40 Cities, nrg4SD, FOGAR: Eight recommendations put forward with the support of UN-Habitat to reach a sustainable urbanisiation, metropolisation and regionalisation. The agreement emphasises urbanisation as a driver for economic world growth and development. Local and Regional governments highlight that it is in the cities around the world that the pressures of globalisation, migration, social inequality, environmental pollution, climate change and youth unemployment are most directly felt. But on the other hand, urban areas have for centuries been cradles of innovation and currently produce over 75% of the world’s GDP. In this regard, cities and regions stress the need of achieving cities that are environmentally sustainable, socially responsible and economically productive. In the opening address of the meeting, the SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon said to local and regional authorities, “your support has never been more crucial to delivering practical results that will defeat poverty, protect the natural environment and improve disaster risk reduction”.
Local and regional leaders from all continents attended the High-Level segment, including the President of UCLG and Mayor of Istanbul (Turkey), Mayor of Lisbon (Portugal) and UCLG Co-President, Mayor of Kazan (Russia) and UCLG Co-President, Mayor of Montreal (Canada) and UCLG Vice-President, the President of the Azuay Province (Ecuador) and Vice President of FOGAR, the Ministry of Territory and Sustainability of the Catalonia Region (Spain) and Co-Chair of nrg4SD, as well as Councillor of Vancouver (Canada) and President of ICLEI. Participants acknowledged the need to go beyond the clusters and sectoral approaches on sustainability, and called for humanising the debate and for an integrated framework to assess sustainable development, as regards basic services, territorial cohesion, social inclusion and equity, culture and resilience. They have emphasised the need for a more inclusive, multi-level and multi-actor governance and strong need to rethink the governance of sustainable development that is not limited to the inter-governmental level but include the local and subnational levels. The session provided the opportunity to start examining the road from Rio+20 to the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, the Habitat III Conference, to be held in 2016.
Rio+20 Side Event Calendar
04 May 2012
03 May 2012
02 May 2012
01 May 2012
30 April 2012
27 April 2012
26 April 2012
25 April 2012
Building a good foundation: Developing the post-2015 development framework – what role for Sustainable Development Goals?
Rio+20: Towards sustainable agriculture and a world free of hunger - An interactive dialogue with the Rome-based Agencies and the Committee on World Food Security (CFS)
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Sustainable Mobility on the Road to Rio+20: Priorities and Actions across Major Groups
Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP)
Resource Efficient Cities as drivers of change
United Nations Environment Programme- Division of Technology, Industry and Economics (UNEP-DTIE)
The Future We Want for Rio+20 on Oceans and Seas
Global outlook and local action: water and energy for sustainable development
Governments of Slovenia, Costa Rica, Cape Verde, Iceland, Singapore, UAE (the Green Group)
Blue Carbon as a Tool to Mitigate Climate Change and Preserve Key Marine and Coastal Ecosystems
UNESCO, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC)
The State of the World Environment told by UNEP’s GEO-5 report and Global Solutions for Sustainability
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
Rights at Risk: Decoding the Green Economy
France Libertes Foundation Danielle Mitterrand
Planet Under pressure
The Power of One Child – Global Action Classroom
Earth Child Institute
Advancing the Sustainability Science Agenda: To Support Sustainable Development and the Green Economy
Chief Scientists Office, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
From Harmful Subsidies to Safe Subsidies
New York + 20: Youth led action for sustainable development
Columbia University Coalition for Sustainable Development
Moving Towards Meaningful Private Sector Contribution to Sustainable Development
Stakeholder Forum for a Sustainable Future
Taking Natural Capital into account: how can SDG’s, Green Economy Roadmaps and National Sustainability Plans properly maintain and value the Earth’s Natural Capital as part of a post-Rio+20 framework
BioRegional Development Group
People and the Planet: The priorities for Rio+20
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
The role of renewable and clean energy in promoting green economy in the context of poverty eradication and sustainable development in LDCs, LLDCs, and SIDS
The Business Case for Sustainable Development - Realizing Inclusive and Green Growth: Recommendations from the UN-Rio+20 Business and Industry Consultation and Government and Civil Society
Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN
Ocean Acidification and Sustainable Development: A Growing Challenge
Permanent Mission of Monaco to the United Nations
Towards an Inclusive Green Economy - A think exchange at the second round of 'informal-informal' negotiations on the zero draft
Federal Ministry for the Environment, Germany
Natural Wealth Accounting
Creating a sustainable economy: top down and bottom up
Institute for Plenary Synthesis and Commons Action for the UN
UN-Water Report on Water Resources Management for Rio+20 Summit
UN WATER, UNEP
Reflections on the negotiations - Tuesday, 24th April Emma Puka-Beals Mount Holyoke College
Shoya Hirose Climate Youth Japan
Tuesday morning’s plenary on sections III and V focused on food security. The G77+China moved to retain some of its previously proposed text, but in a change from Monday’s plenary, negotiated primarily on the basis of Co-Chairs’ Streamlined Text paragraphs. Delegates disagreed on whether food security should be articulated as a right or a goal. There was a push to include fisheries throughout the text on agriculture, and to include ‘science-based’ as a qualifier for agricultural methods. Several developed countries moved to delete references specifically to developing countries, as well as to small-scale farmers, arguing that a movement towards sustainable food production should engage and benefit everyone. Delegates disagreed on re-evaluating existing trade regulations, and taking steps to enhance access to agricultural markets was controversial. There was a strong push to replace ‘indigenous communities’ with ‘indigenous peoples’ throughout the section. As text was negotiated, delegates were able to reach an agreement which allowed the Secretariat to delete the majority of non-CST paragraphs. Delegates appeared to exercise restraint in retaining old text, which significantly streamlined the document and allowed delegates to focus on the alternative text that was considered most important by those who had proposed it.
I would like to make a comment from a climate change viewpoint, being my area of expertise. I was present during negotiations on sections I, II and IV – a rather long session. Hearing the efforts made by the delegates, I had the impression that the topic of IFSD is too broad, although I am very aware of its importance – a framework which covers all three interconnected dimensions of sustainable development is the only way to combat urgent global issues like climate change. From a climate change perspective, I believe the Rio+20 negotiations will have a direct impact on the UNFCCC process, especially when it comes to 1) creating a new framework beyond 2013, and 2) financial resources that were pledged at COP15 and COP16 but have not yet led to concrete actions. The outcomes from Rio+20 will hopefully have a positive impact on COP18. However, due to the fact that governments are now investing so much time in addressing the economic crisis, reaching an ambitious agreement may be difficult. Nonetheless, I strongly believe in the power of people to bring about change and progress, which always gives me confidence and courage to continue working for the future we want!
pic: Roel Groeneveld
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