GLOBAL FORUM FOR FOOD AND AGRICULTURE BERLIN 2012
GREEN WEEK IN BERLIN - 20 - 29 January 2012
The global food situation remains tense. According to the FAO, the number of people afflicted by hunger amounted to approx. 925 million last year out of a total world population of approx. 6.9 billion people. The world population is expected to rise to over 9 billion people by 2050.
The subject of food security must therefore continue to top the political agenda at global and national levels. The discussions should also focus on population growth, the rising demand for energy and raw materials, climate change and the different resource endowment, structure and culture of the various countries.
Twenty years after the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro of 1992, the United Nations General Assembly decided to hold another UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012. The Green Economy in the context of Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development and the institutional framework of the United Nations for sustainable development are the two key themes to be addressed by this Conference.
The Agenda 21 adopted in 1992 postulated the "sustainable use of resources" as the main principle for action. In June 2012, the Heads of State and Government will discuss how to achieve the global sustainability objectives and how the UN could strengthen and enhance its structures in this field.
The transition to a Green Economy encompasses all sectors and lines of business and is to take place within the framework of sustainable development. The future can only lie in striking a balance between the basic needs of all people and the preservation of our natural resources. There is no silver bullet for this that would fit throughout the world. The solutions and transformation processes will differ from region to region. They should be defined by the individual countries themselves which should also assume ownership of the implementation.
The agricultural sector will be essential for a Green Economy in many regions.
In order to safeguard the food supply of a growing world population we need a highly productive farming sector on a global scale that is adapted to the specific conditions on the ground. The agricultural sector is, more than ever, faced with the challenge of producing more foodstuffs in a sustainable manner and making them available. Agriculture is to conserve biodiversity, handle sensitive areas with care whilst better protecting and preserving substance and water cycles at the same time. The sector must also be productive under conditions of climate change and, at the same time, help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
To this end, efficient and resource-conserving technologies must be developed, in particular with regard to the extremely limited availability of water and usable agricultural land. The land and water resources that can be used for farming are already severely limited. Soil and water are also becoming ever scarcer as a result of climate change and over-exploitation. At the same time, the agricultural sector competes for usable agricultural land and for extremely limited water reserves with the growing demands both from settlements, the leisure sector, transport and industry and from nature and environmental conservation.
Moreover, the farming sector will only be able to embark on a sustainable path towards growth in the long run if we manage to reduce our dependence on fossil energies along the entire value-added chain.
Apart from achieving a sustainable increase in production, we must intensify our efforts to radically minimize losses before, during and after the harvest. The latter includes losses along the food chain and a change in patterns of consumption (throw-away problem).
We are therefore faced with the complex task of describing ways of how to produce sufficient food for the growing world population given its claims for limited land and water resources in ever shorter supply while reducing adverse environmental strains to a minimum. The challenges facing sustainable agricultural and food sectors with respect to safeguarding tomorrow's global food supply are huge but they can be mastered. The 2009 World Food Summit in Rome, the New York Summit on the Millennium Development Goals in 2010 and recently the Action Plan of the G20 Agriculture Ministers of June 2011 provide important guidance in this respect.
We need common responses to the following questions, in particular:
Which solutions can be provided both by research and development and by traditional knowledge in order to bring the necessary rise in agricultural production into line with the requirements of a sustainable and efficient resource use?
In which fields do we need to intensify our research and development activities and how can we organise and coordinate research and development capacities at national and international level more efficiently?
How can we make traditional and innovative technologies for an efficient use of water and soil available where it is currently most needed?
Which structures are needed in order to enable us to use the most effective technologies under the specific conditions on the ground? Where do we need to step up investment and how can we provide incentives for responsible private investment?
The Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) to be held in Berlin in January 2012 offers the Ministers of Agriculture from throughout the world a platform in order to define joint approaches to addressing the problems and thus make a constructive contribution to a successful Rio+20 conference.
NB: Friday, 20th January 201213.00 – 15.00 hrs Agricultural Investments in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan - "Land Grabbing" or Development Opportunity?
ICC Berlin, Hall 10
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