The Commission on Sustainable Development met to open the high-level segment of its seventeenth session, focusing on the priority themes: agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification and Africa. Today's programme is expected to include one plenary round table and two sub-round tables on "Responding to the food crisis through sustainable development".
Commission Chair GERDA VERBURG ( Netherlands) said it was clear that humanity was living in a world of crises -- with the food crisis, energy crisis and, more recently, the financial and economic crisis. At a time when it was most needed, sustainable development was hit in its heart. Nevertheless, the average per capita income was higher than any time in the past. Enough food was being produced for everyone, yet nearly a billion people, most of whom depended on agriculture for their daily livelihoods, lived on less than $1 a day. Although no longer on the front page, the food crisis was still there and the achievement of the first Millennium Development Goal was further way than ever. One of the world's biggest challenges required figuring out how to feed 9 billion people by 2050.
Against the backdrop of those multiple crises, she urged delegations not to add another crisis; a leadership crisis. Old solutions no longer fit the challenges of the twenty-first century. As Namibia's Minister Netumbo Nadi Ndaitwah had said at the Commission's high-level preparatory meeting in her country: "If you do what you did, you get what you got". The time for change had come, and the current session should set the scene for that change. Its message should be credibility, cooperation and commitment -- the credibility to stick to its promises via a shared vision; the cooperation to build public-private partnerships at all levels; and the commitment to implement agreements on the ground.
Doing so required dedication and leadership, she said, emphasizing the wisdom of farmers who understood that it was necessary to plant first to be able to harvest later. A paradigm shift would be required, with agriculture being seen as part of the solution. Indeed, it was at the heart of poverty reduction and, in many developing countries, was driving economic development. It was crucial for the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources and should also be at the heart of the climate-change agenda.
Highlighting the ongoing negotiations for a successful outcome for the session, she said she was optimistic that the result would be a positive document with new concrete actions and deliverables that went hand in hand with the shared vision developed at the high-level segment. That vision would first and foremost call for a sustainable and home-grown green revolution, especially in Africa. It would encompass ideas, technologies, agricultural and trade policies, market access and financial means. New, creative and innovative thinking was needed to complement concrete actions and means for implementation. The green revolution must unfold along a five-track approach: increasing investments in sustainable agriculture; creating an enabling environment; developing sustainable production and food chains; improving market access, especially for developing countries; and strengthening the social safety net and access to finance.............
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