Agriculture is the single largest employer in the world, providing livelihoods and jobs for 40 per cent of today’s global population. Moreover, as a human enterprise, it reflects the single largest use of land of any sector. In developing countries, smallholder farms provide up to 80 per cent of the food supply. Faced with environmental degradation, climate change, scarcity of land and water, loss of agricultural biodiversity and ecosystem services, and a world population that is continuing to climb, it is critical for farm and natural resource management and policies to play a more central role in shaping the broader development and environmental agendas.
CGIAR calls for a focus on the entire agricultural landscape as an integrated system, which recognizes that isolated solutions will not reduce risks or achieve required progress in the same way as integrated approaches will.
CGIAR calls for a focus on harmonizing food security and environmental sustainability through agricultural research and development. This will require us to minimize the harmful effects of agriculture on the environment through more efficient management of water, soils and agricultural inputs.
CGIAR calls for the sustainable management of complex agricultural systems while maximizing agricultural productivity and improving the livelihoods and food/nutrition security of the poor.
To achieve these objectives at Rio+20 and beyond, CGIAR, the world’s largest publicly-funded global research partnership that advances science to reduce global poverty and hunger by addressing issues related to climate change, farming, forestry, environment and natural resources management, among others, has outlined a seven-point plan for how agricultural research for development can contribute to a more sustainable, food-secure future:
- We call on Rio+20 actors to adopt cross-sectoral approaches which facilitate broader partnerships, coordinated regulatory frameworks and appropriate economic incentives. What is required now is the vision and courage to transcend conventional sectoral approaches and apply integrated thinking to the management of agriculture, aquaculture, livestock, forests and water.
- We urge Rio+20 actors to address the unequal sharing of natural resources and their benefits through improved governance and technology dissemination. Robust land rights, more sustainable management and use of agricultural biodiversity, appropriate inclusive decision-making, benefit-sharing from forest goods and services, and enhanced enforcement by forest agencies, when appropriate, can all contribute to reduced conversion of forests and grasslands and more sustainable management of natural resources.
- We prompt Rio+20 actors to support knowledge sharing systems that engage with smallholder farmers to improve the management of their crops, livestock and natural resources in order to increase production as well as minimize negative environmental impacts.
- We insist that Rio+20 actors support the wide range of options currently available to restore and better manage degraded environments and ecosystems. Efforts need to focus on scaling out these options and encouraging the adoption through community-designed programs.
- We urge Rio+20 actors to strengthen and support local food production groups, livestock herders and smallholder farmers by investing in agricultural research, strengthening land and water rights, increasing access to markets, finance and insurance, and enhancing local capacity, especially with regard to the use of local agricultural biodiversity.
- We request Rio+20 actors to endorse the full implementation of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), which promotes not only the conservation and use of agricultural biodiversity but also the equitable sharing of any benefits that may arise from its use.
- We call on Rio+20 actors to make a clear commitment to sustainable agricultural systems that prioritize food and nutrition security in order to lessen the need for emergency responses, thus reducing the human toll of disasters and freeing funds, normally dedicated to disaster relief, to be used for preventive research.
In particular we call on:
- Government decision-makers to promote increased and sustained investment in agricultural research. CGIAR and its partners work with national and regional research institution agendas to ensure they are meeting local development targets.
- Farm, land and livestock managers to develop, test and adopt new approaches to land and ecosystem management. The work of CGIAR contributes to providing tools, technologies and approaches in support of a more integrated management of land, forests and water resources.
- Civil Society Organizations to support partnerships with research agencies at local and national level to ensure development initiatives are using appropriate technologies and approaches. CGIAR provides a range of proven technical solutions and approaches that are socially, economically and environmentally appropriate.
- Private Sector to support the discovery and dissemination of technologies, tools and knowledge needed by poor farmers and herders. Partnerships between the private sector and public research bodies, such as CGIAR, can play a key role in driving and disseminating agricultural innovation.