FAO: The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), through Resolution 64/236 of 24 December 2009, decided to organize the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio de Janeiro, 3 to 6 June 2012 (UNCSD, also referred to as Rio+20). The two main stated themes decided by the UNGA for UNCSD are: a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; and the institutional framework for sustainable development. The preparatory process foresees three sessions of the preparatory Committee and three inter-sessional meetings.
The Second Preparatory Committee of UNCSD, held in March 2011, has invited “Member States, the relevant United Nations system organizations, and relevant stakeholders to provide their inputs and contributions in writing by 1 November 2011 for inclusion in a compilation document to serve as basis for the preparation of the zero-draft of the outcome document”.
Since May 2010, FAO’s active contribution to the preparatory process of UNCSD has resulted in the inclusion of food security among the priority areas under consideration. FAO is particularly contributing to shaping the green economy agenda of UNCSD byproviding elements pertaining to its mandate. To this end, an analysis has been carried out on the interactions between the green economy and the food and agriculture sector, including opportunities and constraints. The Greening the Economy with Agriculture(GEA) Initiative seeks to contribute to the definition and implementation of the green economy, with a particular emphasis on food security. As part of this initiative, FAO organized broad stakeholder consultations through an FAO/UNCTAD/Biovision side event in New York on 8 March 2011, and a joint FAO/OECD Expert Meeting on Greening the Economy with Agriculture in Paris, France, 5 to 7 September 2011. An informal seminar was held with Permanent Representatives to FAO on 4 November 2011 to brief them on progress made thus far.
GEA aims to promote a dialogue between the agriculture, forestry and fisheries constituencies and other partners, on sustainable development strategies, as well as the overall participation of food and agriculture stakeholders into the Rio+20 process and beyond, with a view to facilitating their access to the resources and institutional arrangements that will be put in place in order to effectively move towards sustainable development. By taking a proactive role in international, regional and national debates for Rio+20 and beyond, the GEA Initiative would create bridges among different types of stakeholders and between constituencies, notably between agriculture and the environment, while strengthening the overall resilience of countries to exogenous shocks, either macroeconomic or ecological.
Concepts and definitions
Although UN Member States have not yet come to an agreement on the definition of the green economy, they recognize that an efficient, functioning economy is a precondition for addressing the environmental and social pillars of sustainability. Therefore, the green economy is seen as a key implementation tool for sustainable development. UNEP defines the green economy as one that results in “improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental and ecological scarcities”.
GEA refers to ensuring the right to adequate food, as well as food and nutrition security – in terms of food availability, access, stability and utilization – and contributing to the quality of rural livelihoods, while efficiently managing natural resources and improving resilience and equity throughout the food supply chain, taking into account countries’ individual circumstances.
GEA can be achieved by applying an ecosystem approach to agriculture, forestry and fisheries management in a manner that addresses the multiplicity of societal needs and desires, without jeopardizing the options for future generations to benefit from the full range of goods and services provided by terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems.
Therefore, GEA strives to:
achieve food and nutrition security through an appropriate balance between domestic production and trade;
contribute to achieving the right to adequate food for all;
ensure decent rural livelihoods;
use traditional and scientific knowledge to maintain healthy ecosystems that integrate food production and respect natural resource constraints.
Greening the Economy with Agriculture
GEA means that the entire food supply system needs to become resilient to the harmful effects of climate change and macro-economic shocks in the face of growing global population and food demand, which will require fundamental shifts in the approach to the food and nutrition systems.
No green economy without food and nutrition security
The agricultural sector – including crops, livestock, forestry, fisheries and food processing – will play a vital role in the transition to a green economy. Croplands, pastures and forests occupy 60 percent of terrestrial land, agriculture uses 70 percent of globally withdrawn freshwater, and the sector as a whole provides livelihoods for 40 percent of the world’s population. The agricultural sector depends heavily on natural resources for its production processes and can both cause environmental harm and provide environmental benefits.
While current practices contribute to over one third of global greenhouse gas emissions, good management practices can result in an almost carbon-neutral sector, as well as the creation of environmental services and the generation of renewable energy, while also achieving food security. The agricultural sector can also be an engine for economic development and the creation of millions of green jobs, especially in the poorest countries.
Consequently, there can be no green economy without the agricultural sector. At the same time, food and nutrition security will have to be achieved as an integral part of the green economy. This is because food and agriculture systems are threatened by climate change, resource degradation and poverty – the same problems that the green economy is designed to tackle. Only an economic system that results in improved human wellbeing and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities, will be able to deliver food security for over nine billion people, by 2050, in a resource-constrained world.
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