31/10 - 5/11/2011. the Hague. The Government of the Netherlands, in close cooperation with the Governments of Ethiopia, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Vietnam, the World Bank and the FAO, organized the 2010 conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change. The conference was attended by governments, international organizations, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, philanthropic foundations, local community producers and the scientific community. Sixty government ministers were among the 800 participants.
Juergen Voegele, director of the World Bank Agriculture and Rural Development Department, has been leading the effort to re-energize and broaden the World Bank's commitment to agricultural development since 2008. Over the past two years, there has been a visible refocus on this long neglected issue. Voegele talked at the Down 2 Earth conference in The Hague about the key issues at stake here.
Professor Robert Watson's keynote speech revolved around knowledge: 'There's a huge gap between those that have it, and those that need it'. He propagated the establishment of an online network of agricultural and climate science research available to anyone with access to the internet. Watson summarizes his arguments in this video interview
The five-day meeting ended with a final Roadmap for Action : a call to invest in new farming practices that will curb greenhouse gas emissions and will better use currently available land to feed a global population of 9 billion by 2050.
- About 30 per cent of carbon emissions come from farming, livestock and forest destruction.
- Despite its huge share of global emissions, accounting for the use of land is one of the toughest issues under negotiation at U.N. climate talks, and the one which has made the least progress.
- The talks involve creating incentives for emission reductions by vast agricultural conglomerates and by farmers still using wooden plows on tiny plots. It also touches an industry that is heavily subsidized in many countries.
Conference side events
Dozens of civil society organizations have sent a statement of concern to the organizers of the Global Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change. The statement demanded:
- Broad participation and transparency
- Prioritization of ecological over industrial agriculture
- Avoidance of expensive technological fixes that support corporate control of agricultural genetic resources
- A focus on adaptation that includes financing to developing countries to help them cope with the consequences of climate change
- Exclusion of a carbon markets approach that attempts to “offset” the production and consumption patterns in the developed world
- Implementation of the policy and investment options outlined in the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD)