Draft Inputs from the Food and Agriculture Cluster of the NGO Major Group for upcoming thematic discussion at the third session of the Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in New York, 22-24 May, 2013
The Food and Agriculture Cluster was formed in New York to support messages from Major Groups and Civil Society before, during and following the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development. The Cluster continues to coordinate messages for the Post Rio processes and Post 2015 Thematic Consultations on food security and nutrition. As the first thematic discussion of the OWG will be on food security, nutrition, sustainable agriculture, land degradation, desertification, drought and water and sanitation during its third session on 22-24, the Cluster is helping to bring civil society voices into intergovernmental processes in New York at United Nations Headquarters. We look forward to working with the Member States, UN System, Major Groups and other stakeholders to ensure that sustainable agriculture and food and nutrition security are prioritized and recognized as critical to achieving sustainable development.
Six key priorities for an SDG for food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture:
1. Progressive realization of the right to food and issues of equity of access to resources and social inclusion should be the foundation of any multistakeholder informed SDG for food and agriculture.
2. Improving the livelihoods of smallholder and women farmers should be at the forefront in SDG development and implementation
3. A transformative agenda should call for a systemic and holistic approach to diverse, sustainable and resilient food production to consumption systems
4. Sustainable and humane livestock systems should be included as key to sustainable agriculture and diets.
5. Strengthening urban rural linkages, decentralized and territorial planning for an ecosystem-based approach to nourishing cities should be recognized as a key element of the transformation agenda.
6. Progress on the post 2015 Goals need to be measured and monitored by independent bodies with relevant knowledge, competences and capabilities.
The vast majority of the world's farmers are smallholder farmers. Smallholder farmers cannot be left behind if we want to arrive at an effective set of post-2015 Goals. We must ensure that all smallholder farmers and other rural communities, in particular women and disadvantaged groups, enjoy a decent livelihood and income, and protect their right to access to productive resources and assets from seed to land and markets, everywhere. Worldwide, 70 per cent of food production stems from 525 million small operations, which collectively cover the cultivation of 40 per cent of the planet's arable land. A reduction in hunger and poverty can only be achieved by including smallholder farmers in any solution.
Women play a major role all along the food chain from the field to the plate. Their knowledge and needs have to be taken into account on all levels of decision making regarding agriculture and food systems. Globally, women account for nearly half – 43 percent – of the world’s farmers, although their contribution to the agricultural labour force can be much higher – more than 60 percent in some countries. The position of women and especially their access to resources in agriculture and food systems must be improved and their rights as workers within the food system must be safeguarded.
A transformation of agriculture and food systems is necessary. This means a transformation to sustainable, diverse and resilient agriculture and food systems that conserve natural resources and ecosystems, and result in substantial degraded land restoration. Sustainable agriculture and food systems improve food security, eradicate hunger and are economically viable, while conserving land, water, plant and animal genetic resources, biodiversity and ecosystems and enhancing resilience to climate change and natural disasters. The key characteristics of sustainable, diverse, and resilient agriculture and food systems can be common to all future agriculture and food systems, both large and small.
Livestock plays a central role in food security, providing nutrition and essential services such as draft power, employment and income security. Over one billion of the poorest people on the planet depend on their animals as their main source of livelihood and food security. Sustainable livestock production, of which animal welfare is an integral part, is core to achieving socially and environmentally responsible outcomes on the future of food and farming, poverty eradication and sustainable development, especially in developing countries. Sustainable livestock production systems are those that are ecologically sound, economically viable for farmers and consumers, equitable for rural communities and other stakeholders in society and include appropriate animal care.
In order to gain access to sufficient, healthy and culturally appropriate food and nutrition for all people, all dimensions of malnutrition have to be addressed in an integrated manner across health, agriculture and social programs. Only integrated approaches that address the whole food environment in urban and rural areas will be successful. In this regard, a well framed SDG can encourage sustainable diets through integrated action that pays special attention to vulnerable populations such as the rural and urban poor, and to nutrition during pregnancy and early childhood. Significantly reducing food loss and food waste which accounts for one third of the total food supply is an enormous opportunity to attain the overall goal, while reducing the pressure to further intensify agricultural output with potentially damaging social and environmental consequences. The interrelated goals of ending poverty and hunger while also addressing the sustainability of food systems, malnutrition, waste and access to good sanitation and water demand more engagement and decision making by local and territorial authorities, linking urban and rural.
Re-establishing food security for disaster affected people, landscapes and animals is a necessary post-disaster response but also requires pre-disaster risk mitigation through better planning and investments in preparedness. For the world’s poor, these landscapes are the foundation of dietary and economic resilience and safeguarding these food security assets must be an integral part of any effective disaster response and disaster resilience and preparedness planning at local, national and international levels.
Progress on the Post-2015 Goals needs to be measured and monitored in a multistakeholder and participatory manner including independent bodies with both local and scientific knowledge, competence and capabilities. In the field of food security and sustainable agriculture, the Committee on World Food Security in Rome, in cooperation with relevant UN bodies, and with the full inclusion of civil society and the private sector, should be the global platform for ongoing assessment of national progress towards a new sustainable development goal for food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture.
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