Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) was being organised in pursuance of General Assembly Resolution 64/236, and took place in Brazil on 20-22 June 2012 to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), in Rio de Janeiro, and the 10th anniversary of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg.
At the Rio+20 Conference, world leaders, along with thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, NGOs and other groups, came together to shape how we can reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection on an ever more crowded planet to get to the future we want.
The Conference focused on two themes: (a) a green economy in the context of sustainable development poverty eradication; and (b) the institutional framework for sustainable development.
The preparations for Rio+20 have highlighted seven areas which need priority attention; these included decent jobs, energy, sustainable cities, food security and sustainable agriculture, water, oceans and disaster readiness.
According to Issues Brief 9, Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture, food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. Food security covers availability, access, utilization and stability issues, and in its focus on individuals also embraces their energy, protein and nutrient needs for life, activity, pregnancy, growth and long-term capabilities.
Sustainable agriculture is not officially defined but generally refers to the capacity of agriculture over time to contribute to overall welfare by providing sufficient food and other goods and services in ways that are economically efficient and profitable, socially responsible, and environmentally sound.
This brief reviewed international time‐bound and some qualitative commitments in the area of food security and sustainable agriculture agreed to in: Agenda 21 (1992); Rome Declaration on World Food Security (1996)3; JPOI (2002); MDGs (2000) and CSD17 decision on agriculture, rural development and drought and desertification. Implementation activities against these commitments are reviewed as well as proposals made so far by member states and other stakeholders in the context of Rio+20 to fill gaps in implementation.
The conclusion prior to Rio+20 was that global delivery of the food security and sustainable agriculture‐related commitments has been disappointing. Since the 1996 World Food Summit, the 8th session of the Commission on the Sustainable Development in 2000 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation adopted by the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, as well as the Millennium Declaration goals all reaffirmed the objective of, and called for the implementation of, the World Food Summit.
The summary of the Secretary General Report on Agriculture called for “renewed commitment and a new vision for global cooperation to implement policies that simultaneously aim at increasing agricultural productivity, creating fair trade regimes, conserving natural resources and promoting investment in agricultural related infrastructure.”
Several of the proposed options and measures focused on natural resources management and reiterated previous commitments. The difference with previous reviews is the focus on social issues, on small-holder, especially women farmers, who must be at the center of any intervention.
Reducing the gender gap in access to agricultural inputs alone would increase women’s yields by 20‐30%.
The close interdependencies, or nexus, of water, energy and land management have been accentuated by climate change. Numerous examples of successful actions worldwide to effect integrated resources management are available for replication or scaling up, and the question is if countries such as Ghana is really making use of this wealth of information?
By June 2008, before the food crisis, a dozen African countries were actively developing or implementing compacts or national plans of action under the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) aimed at eliminating hunger and reducing poverty by increasing public investment in agriculture to 10 per cent of their national budgets and raising agricultural productivity by at least 6 per cent by 2015.
Only four countries have met their spending target, and investment in national plans and the public sector contribution to agriculture and rural development have been very variable, with a significant number of countries showing low or declining contributions.
Decades of disinvestment in agriculture were reversed following the 2008 food crisis that highlighted the need for sound agricultural development plans to achieve food and nutrition security, economic growth and progress on the MDGs. Renewed government commitment led to a rise in public agricultural research and development in Brazil, China and India.
In addition, the G8‐led l’Aquila Food Security Initiative committed to mobilise $22 billion over three years to support country‐led plans for agriculture and food and nutrition security. In Africa, the fund specifically supports countries’ CAADP processes. So far, only the equivalent of USD 925 million has been pledged but the process has sped up the completion of national plans.
The Five Rome Principles for Sustainable Global Food Security and the High Level Task Force on Global Food Security have set up principles and a framework for increased investment in agriculture and food security and improved coordination of international interventions through the updated Comprehensive Framework for Action (CFA).
The Committee on Food Security was also reformed and the Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition (GSF) now provides strategies to foster coordinated and coherent global and national action, while the recent International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development has stressed the close linkages between food security and sustainable agriculture.
The big question is of course what Ghana has learned from Rio+20 and if the calls-to-action that emerged from Rio+20 is actively been discussed and reviewed in the light of current food security and agricultural policies of Ghana. In following issues these issues will be explored in more depth.