Jun 19, 2012

Event Highlights Agriculture's Crucial Role in a Green Economy at Rio+20 Summit

Agriculture and Rural Development Day (ARDD) to ensure Rio+20 recognizes the importance of agriculture and includes key steps necessary for achieving a sustainable food system. Photo: N. Palmer (CIAT).

600 Global Experts Convene to Discuss Agriculture’s Role in a Green Economy at Agriculture Day Event Ahead of Rio+20 Summit

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL: A consortium of the world's leading agricultural organisations meet today in the lead-up to the Rio+20 Summit to discuss agriculture’s role in building a global green economy and showcase examples of best practices from around the world.

Agriculture and Rural Development Day (ARDD) unites around 600 experts – including policymakers and negotiators, farmers, scientists and the media. The day aims to ensure that the new vision for sustainable development outlined at Rio+20 recognizes the importance of agriculture and includes key steps necessary for achieving a sustainable food system. Specific examples of these steps being called for today include:

  • Greater integration and broader partnerships amongst sectors – water, energy, crops, livestock, forestry, fisheries
  • A commitment to the generation and dissemination of knowledge to improve food systems
  • A clear process towards a Sustainable Development Goal for food and agriculture

Dr. Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, Chief Executive of the South Africa-­based Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), says:

“Rio+20 negotiators must make explicit the link between food security and sustainable development as well as steps needed to ensure farmers, especially smallholders, have dignified livelihoods, can feed their families and have money in their pockets. For this to happen they require conducive policy environments that enable them access to markets and appropriate technology.”

ARDD features keynote speakers, a high-­level panel discussion, and thirteen participatory “learning events” that share knowledge from various projects on the ground in the developing world that are already offering lasting solutions to poverty and food and nutrition insecurity.

“Increases in production need to be achieved sustainably, safeguarding the ecosystems on which we depend, reducing our impact and building resilience to future shocks,” says Ann Tutwiler, Deputy Director-General (Knowledge) at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. “To accomplish this requires the active participation of all actors to identify and implement the required practices, policy and financial solutions.

Dr. Frank Rijsberman, CEO of the CGIAR Consortium says:

“Producing enough food without destroying the environment is the greatest challenge facing humanity in coming decades. CGIAR’s new research portfolio, accompanied by a significant and sustained investment in agriculture, will be critical to overcome this challenge, which is why the CGIAR today is launching its new global research portfolio worth $5 billion over the next five years.”

Business representatives also participate in the day event, showing support for increased private investment in agriculture, following on from the $3 billion investment pledged by businesses as part of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition announced by the G8 last month.

Anne Grethe Dalane, Regional Director of Latin America for global fertilizer business Yara, comments:

“The private sector is an essential player in delivering the technologies, tools and knowledge needed by farmers. Public-private partnerships can play a key role in driving sustainable growth in agricultural productivity.”

Rachel Kyte, Vice President for Sustainable Development, World Bank & Chair, CGIAR Fund Council, praises the efforts made by the Agriculture and Rural Development Day Consortium. She comments:

“Today we are seeing best practices in action. We know that, if scaled up with speed, these approaches could increase food production and improve livelihoods without damaging the environment. We need to create conditions for innovation and then invest so that innovation moves from the lab to the farmer's fields."

“When you improve small farmers’ ability to feed themselves, you also improve their ability to feed others,” said Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development. “They cannot do it alone. It is no coincidence that in countries where agriculture has taken off there have been large investments in research and infrastructure.”


Other speakers at the event include:

  • Jorge Alberto Portanova Mendes Ribeiro Filho, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply, Brazil
  • Marcelo Bezerra Crivella, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Brazil 
  • Roberto Rodrigues, Coordinator of the Agribusiness Center Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV), former Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, and Supply, Brazil
  • Dr. Mary Robinson, Chair, The Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice & Former President, Ireland and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Dyborn Chibonga, Chief Executive Officer, National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi (NASFAM) and World Farmers Organisation


Food security has been highlighted as one of the seven priority areas of the Rio+20 negotiations. Feeding a global population of 9 billion people by 2050 will require at least a 70% increase in global food production and a 50% rise in investments in the agricultural sector.

Growth from agriculture is at least twice as effective in reducing poverty than any other sector. Through improved management of crops, livestock, soil, water, forests and other natural habitats, smallholder farmers can achieve the triple win of (1) stronger food security with reduced poverty, (2) greater resilience in the face of environmental threats, and (3) more robust rural livelihoods.

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