Hans Herren at Rio+20: True Pricing Of Food Is The Way Forward

Many thanks to Pavlos Georgiadis of Young Organics for producing this video!

He met with Dr. Hans Herren at Rio+20, to talk about IAASTD and the way forward. The 1995 World Food Prize Winner didn’t mince his words. “It will take more than just words to change the system,” he said. According to him, food consumption is the key towards the effective transformation of food production and distribution.

How? By pricing food according to its true cost and value, and by informing consumers of what’s in the food they buy through correct labeling. In other words, ending subsidies to commodity crops, factoring the environmental, social and public health costs of industrial food production into the price tag of food items, and labeling GMO, are the name of the game!

Rio+ has come and gone… Now what?

The 2012 Earth Summit has come to a close. This campaign lives on.

The Outcome Document, “The Future We Want”, hasn’t brought us any closer to any implementation of public policies to actively promote and support sustainable agriculture.

Its chapter on “Food security and nutrition and sustainable agriculture” lists what needs to happen but fails to define “sustainable agriculture”, and doesn’t include any sort of commitment with regard to agricultural policies:

Food security and nutrition and sustainable agriculture

108. We reaffirm our commitments regarding the right of everyone to have access
to safe, sufficient and nutritious food, consistent with the right to adequate food and
the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger. We acknowledge that
food security and nutrition has become a pressing global challenge and, in this
regard, we further reaffirm our commitment to enhancing food security and access
to adequate, safe and nutritious food for present and future generations in line with
the Five Rome Principles for Sustainable Global Food Security adopted in 2009,
including for children under two, and through, as appropriate, national, regional and
global food security and nutrition strategies.

109. We recognize that a significant portion of the world’s poor live in rural areas,
and that rural communities play an important role in the economic development of
many countries. We emphasize the need to revitalize the agricultural and rural
development sectors, notably in developing countries, in an economically, socially
and environmentally sustainable manner. We recognize the importance of taking the
necessary actions to better address the needs of rural communities through, inter
alia, enhancing access by agricultural producers, in particular small producers,
women, indigenous peoples and people living in vulnerable situations, to credit and
other financial services, markets, secure land tenure, health care, social services,
education, training, knowledge and appropriate and affordable technologies,
including for efficient irrigation, reuse of treated wastewater and water harvesting
and storage. We reiterate the importance of empowering rural women as critical
agents for enhancing agricultural and rural development and food security and
nutrition. We also recognize the importance of traditional sustainable agricultural
practices, including traditional seed supply systems, including for many indigenous
peoples and local communities.

110. Noting the diversity of agricultural conditions and systems, we resolve to
increase sustainable agricultural production and productivity globally, including
through improving the functioning of markets and trading systems and strengthening
international cooperation, particularly for developing countries, by increasing public
and private investment in sustainable agriculture, land management and rural
development. Key areas for investment and support include sustainable agricultural
practices; rural infrastructure, storage capacities and related technologies; research
and development on sustainable agricultural technologies; developing strong
agricultural cooperatives and value chains; and strengthening urban-rural linkages.
We also recognize the need to significantly reduce post-harvest and other food
losses and waste throughout the food supply chain.

111. We reaffirm the necessity to promote, enhance and support more sustainable
agriculture, including crops, livestock, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture, that
improves food security, eradicates hunger and is economically viable, while
conserving land, water, plant and animal genetic resources, biodiversity and
ecosystems and enhancing resilience to climate change and natural disasters. We
also recognize the need to maintain natural ecological processes that support food
production systems.

112. We stress the need to enhance sustainable livestock production systems,
including through improving pasture land and irrigation schemes in line with
national policies, legislation, rules and regulations, enhanced sustainable water
management systems, and efforts to eradicate and prevent the spread of animal
diseases, recognizing that the livelihoods of farmers, including pastoralists, and the
health of livestock are intertwined.

113. We also stress the crucial role of healthy marine ecosystems, sustainable
fisheries and sustainable aquaculture for food security and nutrition and in providing
for the livelihoods of millions of people.

114. We resolve to take action to enhance agricultural research, extension services,
training and education to improve agricultural productivity and sustainability
through the voluntary sharing of knowledge and good practices. We further resolve
to improve access to information, technical knowledge and know-how, including
through new information and communications technologies that empower farmers,
fisherfolk and foresters to choose among diverse methods of achieving sustainable
agricultural production. We call for the strengthening of international cooperation on
agricultural research for development.

115. We reaffirm the important work and inclusive nature of the Committee on
World Food Security, including through its role in facilitating country-initiated
assessments on sustainable food production and food security, and we encourage
countries to give due consideration to implementing the Committee on World Food
Security Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land,
Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security. We take note of the
ongoing discussions on responsible agricultural investment in the framework of the
Committee on World Food Security, as well as the principles for responsible
agricultural investment.

116. We stress the need to address the root causes of excessive food price volatility,
including its structural causes, at all levels, and the need to manage the risks linked
to high and excessively volatile prices in agricultural commodities and their
consequences for global food security and nutrition, as well as for smallholder
farmers and poor urban dwellers.

117. We underline the importance of timely, accurate and transparent information in
helping to address excessive food price volatility, and in this regard take note of the
Agricultural Market Information System hosted by the Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and urge the participating international
organizations, private sector actors and Governments to ensure the public
dissemination of timely and quality food market information products.

118. We reaffirm that a universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory and
equitable multilateral trading system will promote agricultural and rural
development in developing countries and contribute to world food security. We urge
national, regional and international strategies to promote the participation of
farmers, especially smallholder farmers, including women, in community, domestic,
regional and international markets.

More than ever, now is the time to hold the feet of policy makers to the fire. We have gathered thousands of signatures in the US thanks to Change.org, Care2.com and our partner SlowFood USA. The European campaign has rallied a dozen organizations.

We rely on you to help us keep this campaign alive, and to grow the movement. As Rio+20 has demonstrated, fertile ground for change is to be found in the energy and resources of civil society.

Please share the word about the petitions, sign up for blog updates about this campaign and related issues, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook. We’re only getting started.

The Most Important Form of Capital is Human Capital

I’ve heard this phrase espoused several times at Rio+20, particularly within a session on the UN’s initiative for Sustainable Energy For All.

I agree. There is no question that development could not exist without a strong human resource which has produced all of our structures, organizations, societies, institutions, problems, successes, and ideas.

But what would human capital be without food?

Humans need food to survive. We all know this. But when we discuss the importance of recognizing and strengthening human capital the concept of food is left out of conversation.

Humans don’t need just food, but healthy food. If we want a strong workforce to support the world’s growth, we need to make sure that people have access to what’s required to support their thriving health.

Unfortunately, with its heavy use of pesticides and fertilizers, our global industrial farming system is not enabling a healthy workforce. In fact, it is directly contributing to the degradation of public health by feeding us chemical-ridden sustenance.

By getting rid of pesticides and fertilizers in our food production, we can make our food far more nutritious, and in turn make ourselves, our workforce, our human capital stronger, healthier, and ready to solve the world’s problems. We know it can be done. Without jeopardizing food production or farmers’ income, quite the opposite. Here is one example.

We must consider food as an important factor in human capital; to do otherwise would be to ignore the core of our existence.

Rio+20: Biovision Assesses Progress Made

On the last day of Rio+20, David Fritz, the media director for Biovision, a co-sponsor of nourish9billion.org, gives a quick wrap-up of progress made, including the successful introduction of sustainable agriculture in the Zero Draft of the Summit’s outcome document. He also looks forward to the next step with regard to policy implementation.

Youth @Rio+20: Frustration In The Air

by Pavlos Georgiadis, for Young Organics

The second day of Rio+20 is about to finish, with youth demanding their voices to be heard. There is widespread frustration in the air, as the negotiating text on The Future We Want fails to set the base for the concrete actions it has promised. Youth, joined by NGO and indigenous people representatives, have been protesting for at least 3 hours this afternoon, while world leaders were discussing in the Plenary.

Watch Cam Fenton from the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition shaming world leaders and 11-year-old Ta’Kaiya Blaney of the Sillamon nation calling on the Earth Revolution:

Rio+20: “Agroecology Is The Only Path”, Miguel Altieri

Dr. Miguel Altieri is Professor of Agroecology at UC Berkeley and the President of the Latin American Scientific Society of Agroecology. He is the author of more than 200 publications, and numerous books. He contributed to, and endorsed, the petition of our US campaign.

Pavlos Georgiadis, who is currently representing Young Organics at Rio+20, met with him at the Earth Summit and produced this video. Enjoy!

Rio+20: 17 Year-Old Brittany Trilford Addresses World Leaders

Tena Koutou from New Zealand. My name is Brittany Trilford. I am seventeen years old, a child. Today, in this moment, I am all children, your children, the world’s three billion children. Think of me for these short minutes as half the world.

I stand here with fire in my heart. I’m confused and angry at the state of the world and I want us to work together now to change this. We are here to solve the problems that we have caused as a collective, to ensure that we have a future.

You and your governments have promised to reduce poverty and sustain our environment. You have already promised to combat climate change, ensure clean water and food security. Multi-national corporations have already pledged to respect the environment, green their production, compensate for their pollution. These promises have been made and yet, still, our future is in danger.

We are all aware that time is ticking and is quickly running out. You have 72 hours to decide the fate of your children, my children, my children’s children. And I start the clock now… tck tck tck.

Let us think back to twenty years ago – well before I was even an inkling in my parents’ eyes – back to here, to Rio, where people met at the first Earth Summit in 1992. People at this Summit knew there needed to be change. All of our systems were failing and collapsing around us. These people came together to acknowledge these challenges to work for something better, commit to something better.

They made great promises, promises that, when I read them, still leave me feeling hopeful. These promises are left – not broken, but empty. How can that be? When all around us is the knowledge that offers us solutions. Nature as a design tool offers insight into systems that are whole, complete, that give life, create value, allow progress, transformation, change.

We, the next generation, demand change. We demand action so that we have a future and have it guaranteed. We trust that you will, in the next 72 hours, put our interests ahead of all other interests and boldly do the right thing. Please, lead. I want leaders who lead.

I am here to fight for my future. That is why I’m here. I would like to end by asking you to consider why you’re here and what you can do. Are you here to save face? Or are you here to save us?

Knowledge, Not Money, As The Key To Transformation

They are women living in small villages in Ethiopia. Their livelihood hinges on fuel-wood gathering, a high-risk occupation that requires a 6-7-hour grueling journey every day. In addition to the 35-50 kilos they carry home, they routinely risk being beaten, raped, and robbed while in transit. Most women earn only $0.60 for their load of fuel-wood.

For some of them, fortunately, this is but a bad memory. Sustainable farming has since become their occupation of choice, empowering these women while providing them a way out of poverty.

Such is the incredible story told by Selamawit Aseffa, the Director of BioEconomy Africa, and Mariam W. Ehite (or Ehet Wolde Mariam), the President of Gurara Women’s Association. Not only have these two women made an incredible impact on their own rural communities, but they did make the long journey to Rio to share their experience with the rest of us. They spoke yesterday at  “Fertile Soil of Our Future”, an event hosted at Rio+20 by the Biovision Foundation, a founder of nourish9billion.org. It featured presentations and discussion on various topics of smallholder empowerment, soil fertility, and sustainable practices in rural communities.

In an effort to rescue fuel-wood gatherers from their dangerous jobs, and to create a more prosperous, sustainable rural community, Mrs. Aseffa and Ehite have created a program to teach women sustainable farming practices, empowering them to lead their own food and economic systems.

We don’t want money, we want knowledge

The participants have embraced this new education and knowledge, tripling their agricultural production and substantially increasing household income. Not only can they support their families, but they can also afford to send their children to school, thus giving the next generation of villagers access to a new realm of opportunities.

What’s just as amazing is the work that these women have done with their newfound income, earned through sustainable agriculture. They have constructed a small community center where they can meet, discuss, and decide what to do next with their income and farming. They have even built a local cafeteria and a public shower to serve as community enrichment and capacity building measures. In addition to these assorted growth projects, they are also able to invest in the diversification of their agricultural activities, creating a cycle of sustainable progress.

Their story is a truly inspiring example of how sustainable agriculture and knowledge
can change the lives of people in the poorest communities across the globe. Which Mrs. Ehite acknowledged when she stated pointedly: “If we are empowered with knowledge, we
are able to come out of poverty… We don’t want money, we want knowledge.”

Aquaponics Add New Dimension to Urban Farming

By Lauren Anderson

The urban farming movement is gaining momentum. But for areas with limited or contaminated greenspace or a short growing season, aquaponics can be an alternative agricultural system. This new type of urban farm has popped up in underused and empty industrial spaces in a number of declining urban centers.

read more