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:

  • 27-28 November: Global Major Groups and Stakeholders Forum will discuss the enhancement of stakeholder participation in UNEA. It is a self-organized event by Major Groups and Stakeholders accredited to UN Environment, and will enable participants to share knowledge and expertise on the topic, as well as coordinate inputs for both the Open-ended meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives (OECPR) and the Assembly itself.
  • 29 November – 1 December: Third Open-ended meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives will be the final opportunity before the UNEA for Member-States and engaged stakeholders to share progress of resolutions adopted in previous Assembly meetings, as well as to refine and negotiate new decisions and outcomes.
  • 2-3 December: Science, Policy and Business Forum will bring scientists, civil society organisations, policymakers and business leaders to promote science-driven policies to address environmental challenges, while focusing on the achievement of the SDGs.
  • 4-6 December 2017: the Sustainable Innovation Expo will provide a platform for the private sector to engage with government officials and to present and showcase innovative technology to tackle the world’s environmental challenges while protecting the planet for future generations. It is considered the Assembly’s platform for sharing innovative technology.

Registration for UNEA-3 is currently open. For more information, please visit: http://www.unep.org/environmentassembly/  

 

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. 

The Private Sector Mechanism with more than 100 delegates will attend CFS44 in Rome, Italy, from October 9-13 to discuss the potential of agriculture and food through the SDGs. Science, technology and farming are vital to advance the SDGs. 

I am personally looking forward to hearing from farmers, policy makers, private sector and researchers on how through trade, partnerships, and agricultural research, we can make advances in food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture 

 

Learn more about CFS44 here

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. 

Both of these initiatives will serve as the foundations for the future exploratory work of the Committee related to this topic, which will involve the hosting of 2 intersessional events over the course of 2018. These events will help CFS stakeholders to assess the feasibility of undertaking eventual policy convergence activities, to develop a policy product which can be implemented into national and regional policy frameworks.    

In order to inform these undertakings, the Private Sector Mechanism (PSM) of the CFS has developed a position paper which presents a series of policy recommendations to strengthen food security in the face of a changing rural-urban nexus. These include:

  • Leveraging and expanding dynamic rural-urban linkages to ensure food security and improved nutrition for all.
  • Supporting the development of off-farm economic activities in rural areas.
  • Supporting the sustainable intensification and integration of urban agriculture.
  • Avoiding urban encroachment on rural and peri-urban agricultural land.
  • Engaging youth in farming.

CFS44 will take place October 9-13 in Rome, Italy to discuss issues and solutions to global food security and nutrition. The PSM will be advocating to ensure the above issues are recognized and addressed. Urbanization and rural transformation represent some of the most dramatic and influential trends currently affecting food security and nutrition on a global scale. Their successful management necessitates coordinated action and expertise from all stakeholders, to ensure a better future for all. Learn more about CFS here.

Learn more about urbanization and rural transformation here.

 

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.     

Read the final report here

 

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.

CFS44 will take place October 9-13 in Rome, Italy and provides a platform to discuss nutrition as a key work stream to be implemented across the whole agricultural and food value chain: from production of foods to improving storage and infrastructure, processing nutrient-dense food products and to clearly labeling nutrition facts. Improvements to the policy environment, market connectivity, land use, women’s economic empowerment, and adequate rural infrastructure also impact nutrition and health.

We encourage all private sector actors working on nutrition to join our delegation. 

You can learn more about CFS44 and register here.

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.

Although stunting is almost always irreversible, it can be prevented by improving nutrition in the first 1,000 days of life. The SDGs identified childhood malnutrition, in particular stunting and wasting, as key targets. In addition, the World Health Assembly established a target to reduce by 40 per cent the number of children under-five who are stunted by 2025.

Yet according to estimates recently released by WHO, UNICEF and the World Bank, malnutrition rates around the world remain alarming, and stunting is declining too slowly while the number of overweight children continues to rise. Africa and Asia bear the greatest share of all forms of malnutrition.

This is why stunting, as a key limiting factor in growth and human development, should continue to be a top priority for global initiatives aimed at decreasing the prevalence of malnutrition.

In 2016, the Private Sector Mechanism (PSM) to the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) organized a Partnership Forum on Nutrition. During the Forum, we heard of three projects on the frontline of the battle against stunting.

Sustainability in School Nutrition Programmes

According to the World Food Programme (WFP)’s State of School Feeding study, 368 million children in 169 countries benefit from school feeding programs worldwide. The return on investment is substantial – for every $1 spent by governments and donors, WFP estimates at least $3 is gained in economic returns. However, in low-income countries, the proportion of primary school children beneficiaries is just 18 per cent, while in lower-middle-income countries that figure is 49 per cent.

The Tetra Laval Group has a long experience in engaging in public-private partnerships to develop school milk programs linked to local agricultural development. In 2015, more than 70 million children benefitted from locally sourced, fortified milk at school, providing positive health outcomes for children involved.

Swapping Cereals for Pulses: Improving Dietary Diversity in Ethiopia

Pulse crops, in combination with cereals, hold great promise in terms of meeting nutritional requirements for protein, energy, and some important micronutrients such as iron and zinc. As the second most important crop type in terms of annual production, they are important components of the Ethiopian diet.

However, there is a lack of evidence documenting the nutritional benefits of production and consumption of pulses. Responding to this gap, the University of Saskatchewan has identified barriers to, and implemented education programs on, production and consumption of pulses as a means of not only helping diversify the diet, but also to generate household income that could be used to purchase other nutritious foods. So far, the findings have been encouraging in terms of improving nutrition literacy, linking pulse agriculture to improving dietary diversity, and reinvesting income from pulses to meet household needs and to adopt new agricultural practices.

Putting dietary diversity on the plate in Zambia

Bioversity International has been engaged in a three-year “whole diet – whole year” initiative in the Barotse floodplain, Zambia, supported by the CGIAR Research Program Aquatic Agricultural Systems (AAS), and Agriculture for Nutrition and Health.

Rather than focusing on a single nutrition problem, such as vitamin A deficiency, it considers that an individual or household can have many nutritional problems at the same time – for example, lacking more than one essential micronutrient, over-consumption of high-energy staples, or a combination of both. And these problems can vary at different times of the year, or at different times in a person’s life, such as during pregnancy.

Bioversity are using these findings to develop a combination of agriculture and nutrition interventions. These include:

  • identifying crop diversification entry points for increased production of nutrient-dense crops including fruits, vegetables, groundnuts and legumes,
  • establishing 30 demonstration plots in the 10 communities,
  • producing educational materials on how to make the most of locally available foods to diversify the diet every month of the year, and how to prepare recipes using seasonally available foods.

Key messages were shared via cooking demonstrations on enhanced recipes with local cooking groups, where community members gained new knowledge on how to prepare nutritious porridge, for example by adding dried pounded vegetables to maize meal and adding cow pea and groundnut to enrich local dishes.

For more success stories on SDG2.2: ending malnutrition, visit www.farmingfirst.org/SDGs or search #Ag4SDGs on Twitter.

 

Featured image: Rachel Nduku, The Commonwealth

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.

Objective

The contributions to the online Blog should provide various perspectives on eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world, and how to promote the achievement of SDGs 1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 14, and 17, and will thus contribute to discussions at the HLPF.  The blogs are also intended to create a buzz around the HLPF itself. Giving voice to a wide range of stakeholders also underlines the inclusive spirit of the 2030 Agenda and HLPF. 

Blog Format 

The blog entries should to be succinct and to the point, a maximum of 700 words in length. They will be published on the DSD website. The blog can be published by individual authors, or on behalf of an organisation.

Guiding questions for authors

The blog entries could address one or several of the following questions:  

  • What concrete steps need to be taken to end poverty? 
  • How can we promote prosperity?
  • How are global trends impacting our approaches to eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity?
  • How can we spur implementation of SDGs 1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 14 and 17?
  • How are SDGs 1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 14 and 17 interlinked?

Robynne Anderson Named to the 2017 Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame

Lire l'article en français

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. 

Brave Ndisela is originally from Malawi. Last year, the Government of Malawi launched a new National Agricultural Policy to improve incomes, food security and nutrition. Brave was asked if this policy addresses the challenges of urbanization. Brave noted that Malawi’s urbanization is going at a slow pace and this new food security strategy is going to help the country with early planning for improved rural-urban linkages and for early urban planning. Gerda Verburg noted that the SUN Movement works with 59 countries and 3 Indian States. She noted the need for local answers that will work on access and on consumer choices. 

Plato said « Any city, however small, is in fact divided into two, one the city of the poor, the other of the rich. These are at war with one another. » The pace and scale of urbanization are constantly creating a greater gap between the rich and the poor and this gap can be seen with the nutritional status of urban population. The triple burden of malnutrition exists now around the world in an urban context. Most of the urban poor live in slums. Hans Rosling once asked “Can slums be made history ?”. Both speakers were optimistic that a variety of solutions would be found to not only improve the lives of people living in slums through improved sanitation, public services, infrastructure and provision of healthier and more nutritious food. In addition, Gerda noted the need to provide rural youth greater opportunities in the agricultural sector to slow down the migration flow from the countryside to the cities. 

The audience noted the importance of re-thinking food systems for agricultural production to respond to the needs of nutritional recommendations instead of public policies focused on subsidies for cereal and staple crops. Another comment noted the need to study urban diets closely, of the rich and of the poor. 

More information about the speakers: 

Brave Ndisale is the Strategic Programme Leader for Food Security and Nutrition at the FAO. Brave previously served as Malawi’s Ambassador to Belgium, France, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, Switzerland, The Principality of Monaco, and the European Union. She also held senior positions in government and international organizations, including the African Union Commission.

Gerda Verburg is the Coordinator of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement and Assistant Secretary-General to the United Nations. Gerda served as Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality of the Netherlands, and as Chair of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD 17) at the same time. From 2011, she was Ambassador of the Netherlands to the UN Rome-based agencies. In 2013, she was elected as Chair of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS), and in 2014 she was appointed as Chair of the Agenda Council for Food and Nutrition of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

 

Grain Transportation Enters New Era

The Transportation Modernization Act C-49 is being introduced in Canada and will address many long term issues concerning grain transportation.  It is exciting to see many of its provisions and everyone is eager for more details.  Congratulations to Minister Garneau and to all the parties which have demonstrated so much commitment to Canadian farmers.

Now we need that support to speed along its passage before the prior legislation sunsets.  It is important that provisions like Interswitching have continuity.  For shipments to the US, it is particularly important that Interswitching and data requirements are robust.  It is too easy just to think about the ports, but crops like Oats move mostly to the United States and so that southern corridor is just as important.