UN Signals Positive Role for Forestry in Food Security and Nutrition


Forests cover 30.6% of the Earth’s land area (nearly 4 billion hectares) and are essential to human well-being and sustainable development. An estimated 1.6 billion people – 25% of the global population – depend on forests for subsistence, livelihood, employment and income generation. 

However, the role that forestry plays in food security and human nutrition remains under-researched, and under-appreciated by policymakers. Very often, in the context of halting deforestation, we hear “protect forests, do agriculture better” – but where is the role for forestry itself? Despite the crucial contribution of forests to Food Security and Nutrition, deforestation and forest degradation continue in many regions of the world. Greater policy focus on sustainable forestry will help strengthen food security and promote nutritionally adequate diets. 

I wish to congratulate the United Nations Committee on Food Security (CFS) on having selected forestry as a key issue to work on as promoting sustainable forest management as essential to delivering the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

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Registration open for UNEA-3: The UN Environment Assembly

The UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) is the world’s highest-level decision-making body on environmental action. The Assembly provides environment ministers, stakeholders, and experts from around the world an opportunity to come together to discuss environmental challenges and work on resolutions to advance climate action.

This year’s session, the third UNEA (UNEA-3), will take place from December 4th to December 6th in Nairobi, Kenya, on the theme “Towards a Pollution-free Planet”. The outcomes of the Assembly are expected to include a political declaration on importance of acting against pollution, supported through voluntary commitments to reduce pollution by governments and stakeholders. In addition, member States are expected to consider resolutions on issues ranging from marine debris to lead paint. 

UNEA provides a unique platform for dialogue on environmental sustainability and a number of activites will take place before and during the Assembly, offering additional opportunities for high-level engagement and discussion:

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CFS44: Agriculture and Food and its potential to Achieve the SDGs

Throughout the Sustainable Development Goals process, the International Agri-Food Network has been engaged in the negotiations. As part of the Global Business Alliance, we have placed a priority on the 5 P’s: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership. 

The SDGs place People-centred approaches at the core of the development aspirations of the UN. Agriculture programs are needed that are ‘farmer-centred and knowledge-based’ so that the full potential of farmers, both men and women can be harnessed. Farmers need access to land, water, knowledge, inputs, and credit to grow a crop and functioning markets to sell their products. 

The private sector plays a central role in sustainable development and human prosperity and serves as an essential partner. In fact, a recent PwC study indicated that 92% of businesses are aware of the SDGs, 71% of businesses are planning how they will respond to SDGs and 13% have already identified the tools they need to do so. 

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CFS44: Urbanization, rural transformation and implications for food security and nutrition

Demographics are changing. Just over half of the global population lives in towns and cities, and absolute numbers of rural inhabitants are projected to begin declining in the near future.  

Policies and interventions will have to adopt an integrated approach to development, dealing with rural and urban regions not as distinct and isolated environments, but as part of a unified continuum of food systems. Policies should seek synergistic solutions in order to enable agriculture, not at the expense of either urban or rural populations, but to their mutual advantage.

The UN Committee on Food Security (CFS) has begun to reckon with this challenge, firstly by hosting a high level forum on urbanization, rural transformation and implications for food security and nutrition in the fall of 2016. This was an opportunity for policy-makers and experts to exchange views and discuss practical experiences on the challenges, opportunities, and positives outcomes that have resulted from more integrated approaches to managing these processes of change. Following this, based both on the discussions at the forum and submissions sent in through the Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition, the CFS created a compilation document of experiences and effective policy approaches entitled “addressing food security and nutrition in the context of changing rural-urban dynamics”, which will be officially endorsed at the next plenary session of the CFS in October. 

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World Pulses Day endorsed by FAO Conference

The Conference of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which is the foremost governing body of the agency, endorsed a proposal to celebrate February 10th as an annual World Pulses Day during its 40th plenary session in July 2017. Galvanized by the important achievements of the 2016 International Year of Pulses, and wishing to build on its successes, the Conference acknowledged the enormous value of pulse production and consumption for food security, human health, and the environment, and requested that the UN General Assembly, at its next session, consider declaring World Pulses Day as an annual observance.

Pulses represent some of the most sustainable crops it is possible to grow. They are one of the most important sources of plant-based protein for people around the globe. They can have a positive impact on the management of non-communicable diseases, including diabetes and coronary conditions. Their nitrogen-fixing properties allow them to play a role in combatting soil degradation and exhaustion. They also require less water than many other traditional staple crops, and between 50% and 83% less than many animal sources of protein. This makes them hugely significant in a world undergoing dramatic and rapid climactic transformations, as they can make contributions to both climate change adaptation and mitigation.  This is why it is more crucial than ever that the international community continue to raise awareness of the benefits of growing and eating pulses, in order to further production, promote research, and improve diets.

World Pulses Day will be a key part of this. It will be a vital opportunity to highlight the role that pulses can play in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It will be an occasion for all stakeholders to come together to celebrate the progress made in leveraging pulses for a healthier and more food secure world, and to assess the challenges that remain and mobilize to overcome them. It is my hope, therefore, that the General Assembly, this fall, will take into account the recommendations of the FAO Conference, and those of the FAO Council and the Ouagadougou Declaration before that, and recognize February 10th as World Pulses Day.     

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CFS44: Nutrition

The UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) selected nutrition as one of its key workstreams for 2016–2018 and will have a major role in shaping nutrition debates in the context of the SDGs and the 2nd International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) outcomes.

The PSM Working Group on Nutrition brings together key stakeholders from across the agri-food value chain, including farm representatives, businesses, and nutritionists. The Working Group follows closely the CFS work stream on nutrition and participates in the Open-Ended Working Group and the Technical Task Team on Nutrition.

Multi-stakeholder engagement plays a critical role in kick-starting new nutrition programs to address the challenges brought by all facets of malnutrition. Private Sector Mechanism members have been raising the importance of issues such as food safety, nutritional education and targeted interventions to address stunting and wasting. Nutritional interventions must be prioritised, particularly geared to addressing the needs of women, children, and the most vulnerable. This requires progressive programming and a willingness to work together. Innovation, research, education, and trade are essential to improving access to quality foods. All of which is underpinned by the essential role of farmers to produce the food we eat.

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Steps to Eradicate Childhood Stunting & Achieve SDG2.2


Originally published in Farming First. Part of Farming First’s #SDG2countdown on SDG2.2: ending malnutrition, featuring three projects on the frontline of the battle against stunting

Stunting continues to be one of the most pernicious and widespread forms of malnutrition, having a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable populations compared with other types of malnourishment. According to 2016 data, 155 million children under five around the world are stunted, representing more than 20 per cent of the under-five population. The majority of stunted children are in Asia (87 million) and in Africa (59 million).

Resulting from insufficient food and nutrients, stunting has significant consequences for human health as well as social and economic development. The effects last a lifetime, ranging from impaired brain development, lower IQ, weakened immune systems, and greater risk of serious diseases like diabetes and cancer later in life. Beyond the devastating personal impacts, stunting is also an enormous drain on economic productivity and growth. Economists estimate that it can reduce a country’s GDP by as much as 12 per cent.

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Blog for the 2017 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development: Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world


Proposed series of blogs

The theme of the 2017 session of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), to be held from 10-19 July in New York, is "Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world". The session will hear presentations by 43 countries that have volunteered to make national presentations on their follow-up and implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.  The session will also review in-depth the following SDGs:

Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere;Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture;Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages;Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls;Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation;Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development;Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development.

In order to promote the 2017 HLPF session, the DESA Division for Sustainable Development is launching an online blog series to capture the views of experts, Member States, the UN system, Major groups and other Stakeholders on this year’s theme and/or the 7 SDGs that will be reviewed in-depth by the HLPF in July.

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Robynne Anderson Named to the 2017 Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame

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Three accomplished and talented women will join the prestigious Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2017. Robynne Anderson, Patty Jones and Jean Szkotnicki will be formally inducted into the national Hall of Fame at a ceremony on Thursday, November 30, 2017 in Calgary, Alberta.

“I am personally thrilled that more Canadian women are being recognized this year for their extraordinary accomplishments in the Canadian agriculture industry,” says President Herb McLane, Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame Association. “This year’s three inductees have contributed to the strength and health of our industry from very different perspectives – covering the animal health sector, publishing and consulting, and livestock photography. With more than 210 inductees in the Hall of Fame, and only five of them women, it is very heartening to be recognizing the outstanding contributions these three women continue to add to the Canadian agricultural industry.”

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Food Security and Nutrition in an Urbanizing World

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) launched today its 2017 Global Food Policy Report, which focuses this year on Food Security and Nutrition in an Urbanizing World. The launch event took place in Brussels, on the eve of the European Days, on June 6, 2017, with the participation of SNV World and Welthungerhilfe. I was invited to moderate the keynote interview session on “International Responses to Urbanization”, featuring two wonderful speakers: Brave Ndisela, Strategic Programme Leader for Food Security and Nutrition at the FAO, and Gerda Verburg, Coordinator of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement and Assistant Secretary-General to the United Nations. 

The IFPRI report shows a clear picture of the massive and rapid urbanization trend that is happening around the world and more strikingly in Africa and in Asia. By 2050, two thirds of the world population will live in urban areas. As urban population grows, poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition are increasingly becoming urban problems. The speakers addressed some of the priority actions that are needed to counter these trends. 

IFPRI did a Survey (the results are in the report) showing that 73% of the respondents think the expansion of cities and urban population will make it harder to ensure that everyone gets enough nutritious food to eat. The speakers presented the scale and space of urbanization in the developing world and the problems of food security and nutrition that are growing fast among urban population. They also noted the opportunities, in particular more balanced linkages between urban and rural. 

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