Support for Sustainable Smallholder Agriculture Needed to Fuel an 'Evergreen Revolution'
UNEP joins IFAD to launch Environment and Natural Resource Management (ENRM) policy in advance of World Environment Day 2011
Rome/Nairobi, 1 June 2011- Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), today called for a dramatic increase in support for sustainable agriculture, including smallholder farmers, as a way to drive green growth and reduce poverty.
The challenge of feeding more than nine billion people by 2050, alongside the challenge of climate change, maintaining healthy and productive land and sufficient water resources require a more intelligent pathway in terms of managing the world's agricultural systems.
"Agriculture is at the centre of a transition to a resource-efficient, low-carbon Green Economy. The challenge is to feed a growing global population without pushing humanity's footprint beyond planetary boundaries," said Mr. Steiner.
"Investments through official development assistance (ODA) is one way of catalyzing supports for smallholder farmers. But government policies also need to scale-up and accelerate smart market mechanisms for unleashing investment flows from the private sector," he added.
"Well managed, sustainable agriculture can not only overcome hunger and poverty, but can address other challenges from climate change to the loss of biodiversity. Its value and its contribution to multiple economic, environmental and societal goals needs to be recognized in the income and employment prospects for the half a million smallholdings across the globe," added Mr. Steiner.
Rio+20 in Brazil next year will be a major opportunity for the international community to recognize the role of farmers in informing the sustainable development agenda and to provide the kind of supporting policies and financial flows able to unlock this potential, he said.