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2020 Meeting of the High Level Political Forum: A Virtual United Nations Event

The 2020 meeting of the High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development is certainly one that will be remembered for a long time to come - it was the first time a meeting of this magnitude  was held in an entirely virtual manner at the United Nations. Held over the period Tuesday, 7 July, to Thursday, 16 July, under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council, the session included a three-day ministerial meeting of the forum from Tuesday, 14 July, to Thursday, 16 July and a High Level segment was held on Friday 17, July.

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Registration Open for the African Green Revolution Forum Virtual Summit!

In a continuing string of virtual events, the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) is fast approaching! AGRF is Africa’s largest agriculture and food systems event. The summit is intended to be a forum that allows for sustainable and actionable plans to be developed which will help African countries continue to grow their agricultural sectors. This 10th annual summit will take place September 8th – 11th and bring together thousands of participants including government officials, civil society and private sector members, research fellows, and development partners.

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Digital Agriculture: Strengthening Food Systems Through the Pandemic and Beyond

This article was originally posted through Farming First

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a tremendous impact on nearly every facet of life, and food systems are no exception.

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The COVID-19 Pandemic and the SDGs: What can we do Differently?

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting everyone on a global scale. We all know somebody who has had to cancel plans, suddenly became unemployed or even lost someone to the virus. All countries remain highly vulnerable to new outbreaks. The economic and social consequences are unmeasurable in the short-term and unknown in the long-term. However, some have been more severely hit than others.

The pandemic has made inequality between countries, and individuals, more evident than ever before. Today, it is impossible to discuss sustainable development without considering the effects of COVID-19. It is not a surprise that this was the focus of the recently launched Sustainable Development 2020 Report

The pandemic is a significant setback in meeting the SDGs. According to the publication, almost all goals were negatively impacted by this unexpected health crisis. The exceptions are SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production) and SDG 15 (life on land), which the authors classified the impact as “unclear”. The pandemic particularly threatens the progress made on SDGs 1, 2, 3, 8 and 10.

We could argue that we at least managed to reduce our global environmental impact. The drop in traffic is a major contributor to the fall in CO2 emissions worldwide. In China, emissions fell by 25% at the start of the year. In the UK, authorities noticed air quality improvements already during the first weeks of lockdown. But at what cost? Unfortunately, this was not a reflection of a structural change, but a global economic slowdown.

At the launch event, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, one of the report’s authors, emphasised that we have a chance to build the society and future we want. We cannot restore economic activity by merely replicating old patterns. Any recovery strategy must have all SDGs at its core, as highlighted in the report. Moreover, one of its key messages is that collaboration is critical to address and prevent health, economic, and humanitarian crisis. In the case of a pandemic, no one is safe without robust health care systems in every country.

2020 will be remembered as the year of the COVID-19 pandemic. But every crisis hides an opportunity. We are at a crossroad: we can choose between “business as usual” or recalibrate and accelerate change. What are you going to do? 

Food Systems and Nutrition Patterns: Biodiversity, Resilience and Food Security

On July 8th Emerging ag Inc, in partnership with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and the National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) hosted a Zoom webinar entitled Food Systems and Nutrition Patterns: Biodiversity, Resilience and Food Security.  

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Avena Canada Oat Recipe: See the Winners!

For the past 6 years, The Prairie Oat Growers Association of Canada (POGA) has organized an Oat Recipe Contest as part of the Avena Canadiense project. The contest celebrates the health benefits and versatility of oats. Any Mexican citizen, be they a casual home cook or a professional chef, can take part in the contest. This year, for the first time ever, the contest featured four distinct categories; traditional Mexican cuisine, vegetarian, gluten-free and creative recipes. Despite the difficult circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mexican cooks enthusiastically responded to the contest challenge submitting 93 recipes, creatively incorporating oats into a variety of dishes.

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2019 AGRA Report focuses on Africa Smallholder Farmers Transformation

“Today, the agricultural sector is responsible for 65% of Africa’s employment, 35% of its GDP and 75% of its internal trade. The continent’s smallholder farmers (80% of the total population) are vibrant and inventive. Yet hundreds of millions of Africans go to bed hungry every night, imports dominate our markets, and farmers cannot access the seeds and fertilizers they need. Nor can they always get their goods to market or add value to their products to make a profit. A huge opportunity is being wasted.”

- H.E Hailemariam Desalegn Former Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Chair of the Board of Directors of AGRA

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Agricultural Solutions to Mega Global Challenges

On June 9th I had the great pleasure of taking part in the webinar "Agricultural Solutions to Mega Global Challenges " presented by the North America Climate Smart Agricultural Alliance (NACSAA) and Solutions from the Land. 

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Conservation and the Coronavirus: The Virus Threatens Efforts to Preserve Biodiversity

Writing in less interesting times, the UN Environment Programme announced that 2020 would be a “super year for nature and biodiversity”, as well as a “crunch year for the biodiversity and climate emergencies”. There was certainly no lack of ambition, with scheduled summits including meetings of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical, and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) and the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI) of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), a UN Ocean Conference, a Summit on Biodiversity in the margins of the General Assembly, and a World Conservation Congress organized by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The outcomes of all of these meetings would inform a Global Biodiversity Conference (also serving as the Conference of the Parties to the CBD) which would set out a Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework to underpin international conservation efforts for the next decade.

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A Numbers Game: What More Women in Agriculture Means

Agriculture, like other sectors, has faced gender disparity for a long time with the lack of accurate data failing to paint a clear picture of the proportion of women engaging in agriculture. For quite some time, there was a myth that claimed women accounted for 60 to 80 percent of global food production but only owned 2 percent of the world’s land. This myth was discredited by Agnes Quisumbing and collaborators who carried out various gender-specific studies and found that “the proportion of land controlled by women in Africa, south of the Sahara is closer to 22 percent.”

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