WINDHOEK – The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio last week secured renewed political commitment for sustainable development from world leaders.
The main goal of the conference was to discuss ways and means to ensure the promotion of an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable future for the planet and for present and future generations.
World leaders identified eradicating poverty as the greatest global challenge facing the world today and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.
They particularly expressed deep concern over the fact that one in five people on the planet, or over 1 billion people, still live in extreme poverty, and that one in seven or 14 percent of the world’s population is undernourished.
Recently, in Namibia it was reported that 30 children died of malnourishment in the Hardap Region. World leaders committed themselves to freeing humanity from poverty and hunger as a matter of urgency.
Since the conference theme was “the Green Economy in the Context of Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication”, world leaders acknowledged that the green economy would enhance the ability to manage natural resources sustainably and with lower negative environmental impacts, increase resource efficiency and reduce waste.
The final communiqué of the conference highlighted the fact that farmers, including small-scale farmers and fishermen, pastoralists and foresters can make important contributions to sustainable development through production activities that are environmentally sound, enhance food security and the livelihood of the poor and invigorate production and sustained economic growth.
Some of the key issues for action highlighted under the food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture section of the final communiqué were the rights of everyone to have access to safe, sufficient and nutritious food and the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger.
Another was the need to revitalise the agricultural and rural development sectors, notably in developing countries, in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable manner.
Other important issues raised during the conference included measures to enhance access to credit and other financial services, markets, secure land tenure, health care, social services, education, training, knowledge and appropriate and affordable technologies, including efficient irrigation, re-use of treated wastewater and water harvesting and storage.
The conference also highlighted the importance of traditional sustainable agricultural practices, including traditional seed supply systems, as well as improving the functioning of markets and trading systems and strengthening international cooperation, particularly for developing countries by increasing public and private investment in sustainable agriculture, land management and rural development.
Key areas for investment and support include sustainable agricultural practices, rural infrastructure, storage capacities and related technologies, research and development on sustainable agricultural technologies, developing strong agricultural cooperatives and value chains and strengthening urban-rural linkages.
The need to significantly reduce post-harvest and other food losses and waste throughout the food supply chain was emphasized, as well as the promotion, enhancement and support for more sustainable agriculture, while conserving land, water, plant and animal genetic resources, biodiversity and ecosystems, and enhancing resilience to climate change and natural disasters.
Emphasis was also placed on enhancing agricultural research, extension services, training and education to improve agricultural productivity and sustainability through the voluntary sharing of knowledge and good practices.
World leaders further agreed to encourage countries to give due consideration to implementing the Committee on World Food Security Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the context of National Food Security.
Another important issues was the need to address the root causes of excessive food price volatility, including its structural causes, at all levels, and the need to manage the risks linked to high and excessively volatile prices in agricultural commodities and their consequences for global food security and nutrition.
The conference reaffirmed that a universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system will promote agricultural and rural development in developing countries and contribute to world food security.