The Tenth Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) Dialogue was held from Wednesday 7 to Thursday 8 September 2011 in The Hague, the Netherlands. The Dialogue was organized by RRI and Oxfam International, in collaboration with the IS Academy on Land Governance (LANDac) and EcoAgriculture Partners. The Dialogue focused on common approaches to dealing with the challenges of food security and climate change, and aimed to influence policy dialogues in fora including the Committee on Food Security, the Working Group of the G20 Food Security pillar, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 17th Conference of the Parties (COP); the 2012 International EcoAgriculture Conference; the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD/Rio+20); and the 2012 follow up to The Hague Global Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change. The Dialogue aimed to bring together individuals from the forestry, agriculture, climate change and food security communities to engage in discussions and breakdown sectoral “silos.”
More than 60 participants from 18 countries, including representatives from governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), international organizations and the academic community, attended the Dialogue, which is the first to consider food security and agriculture alongside forests, governance and climate change. Participants convened in five panel sessions and held discussions on: global challenges and responses in forests and agriculture; the current status of rights, livelihoods and governance in the world’s rural and forest areas; the role and interface of agriculture and forests in mitigating and adapting to climate change; actions to meet food security needs in the context of large-scale investments, small-holder production and community forestry; and emerging common approaches to address challenges. Participants also engaged in a group exercise to develop a common vision for fostering action. Participants were encouraged to share their promising paths forward, particularly those that bridge sectors.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF RRI DIALOGUES; AND RELEVANT INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE CHANGE, AGRICULTURE AND FOOD SECURITY MEETINGS
RRI is a global coalition of international, regional and community organizations engaged in forest conservation, research and development. RRI aims to promote greater global action on pro-poor forest policy and market reforms to increase household and community ownership, control and benefits from forests and trees.
The series of RRI Dialogues on Forests, Governance and Climate Change is designed to foster critical reflection and learning on forest governance, the rights of forest communities and indigenous peoples, and forest tenure in the context of global action to combat climate change, including reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+). This series builds on the discussions of the International Conference on Rights, Forests and Climate Change, convened by RRI and Rainforest Foundation-Norway in October 2008. Since July 2009, the Dialogues have been held in London (UK) and Washington D.C. (US), with regionally-focused events in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), San Salvador (El Salvador) and Kathmandu (Nepal). Previous dialogues have focused on a variety of topics, including the role of forest governance in achieving reduced emissions from deforestation, the status of forests in the global negotiations on climate change, and the implications of UNFCCC COP 15 in December 2009 in Copenhagen for forest communities and indigenous peoples. For more information on all of these events, visit: http://www.rightsandresources.org/programs.php?id=169
UNFCCC NEGOTIATIONS ON REDD+ AND AGRICULTURE
FROM BALI TO CANCÚN: The idea of making payments to discourage deforestation and forest degradation was originally discussed in the negotiations leading to the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC, although it was not ultimately included in that treaty. The REDD concept subsequently developed from a proposal in 2005 by the Coalition of Rainforest Nations. Subsequent negotiations resulted in the 2007 Bali Action Plan (BAP), which included a call for “policy approaches and positive incentives on issues relating to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries; and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries” (paragraph 1b(iii)), (“REDD+”). At UNFCCC COP 16, in 2010, parties adopted the Cancún Agreement (Decision 1/CP.16), which includes text on REDD+. The Agreement affirms that, provided adequate and predictable support is forthcoming, developing countries should aim to slow, halt and reverse forest cover and carbon loss. It encourages developing country parties to contribute to mitigation actions in the forest sector. The text also requests the UNFCCC’s Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) to develop a work programme to identify, inter alia, drivers of deforestation and degradation, and methodologies for estimating emissions and removals from these activities. The Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) under the UNFCCC is tasked with exploring financing options for the full implementation of results-based actions and to report on this at COP 17 in late 2011.
The agricultural sector is referred to within the Convention as a relevant sector for emission reductions. The Kyoto Protocol provides some options for agricultural accounting for developed countries under its Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry guidance, as well as methodologies to reduce emissions from agriculture in developing countries under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism. In 2008, agriculture entered the UNFCCC negotiations on sector-specific actions under the AWG-LCA. The AWG-LCA negotiating text on agriculture includes provisions for the establishment of a SBSTA Work Programme on Agriculture and this Work Programme will be considered at COP 17. Reports of UNFCCC meetings can be found at: http://enb.iisd.org/process/climate_atm.htm#climate
2008 G8 SUMMIT: Participants at the 2008 G8 Summit, held in Toyako, Japan, from 25-27 June 2008, expressed concern regarding the 2008 food crisis and, in a Statement on Global Food Security, announced measures to address and act on the crisis’ root causes. They agreed to work with the international community to form a global partnership on agriculture and food, involving all relevant actors, including developing country governments, the private sector, civil society, donors and international organizations.
UN COMMISSION ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT (CSD) 17: At CSD-17, held in New York, US, from 4-15 May 2009, a High-Level Segment and Ministerial Roundtables discussed the food crisis, fostering a sustainable green revolution in Africa and integrated management of land and for agriculture and food security; and measures to enhance global food security, including rural development, protecting smallholder farmers and trade considerations.
GLOBAL CONFERENCE ON AGRICULTURE, FOOD SECURITY AND CLIMATE CHANGE: Organized by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, with cooperation from numerous governments and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the meeting aimed to develop the agriculture, food security and climate change agenda following from the Shared Vision Statement of the CSD-17 in May 2009. The outcome of the Conference was a Chair’s Summary, containing a Roadmap for Action, which aims to broaden partnerships and activities through engagement with the private sector, governments, scientists, NGOs, civil society, farmers, indigenous peoples, women and youth. A follow-up meeting will take place in Vietnam in 2012. A report of the meeting can be found at: http://ww.iisd.ca/ymb/afcconference/
REPORT OF THE TENTH RRI DIALOGUE
On Wednesday morning, Andy White, RRI, welcomed participants and stressed the need for transparent, just and equitable solutions to global problems. He explained the need to break with the trend of compartmentalizing knowledge in issue “silos,” thus moving away from tendency of discussing agriculture, climate change and forestry challenges in isolation. He noted that environmental and development challenges are so severe that they are now seen as emerging state security issues. White highlighted that, while securing land rights are part of the global rhetoric, they have not been a global priority in practice. He called for new mechanisms to address these challenges, including investment in tenure reform, small-scale local enterprises and addressing market and supply chain challenges. He described emerging progress in Haiti, including a renewed focus on rural development, increased cooperation among ministries, greater public-private partnerships in development interventions and investment in restoration of upland watersheds. He urged participants not to wait for an earthquake to begin changing behavior. Duncan Pruett, Oxfam Novib, described Oxfam’s Grow Initiative to address global food crises, in part through attention on land rights.
SESSION 1: SETTING THE SCENE: GLOBAL CHALLENGES AND RESPONSES IN FORESTS AND AGRICULTURE
Session Chair Kitty van der Heijden, Ambassador for Sustainable Development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands, warned that globally, one billion people are chronically under-nourished and two billion lack essential nutrients. She stressed that the green revolution approach is unsustainable in the long-term. Van der Heijden said that the tragedy is not a lack of food, but that the hungry cannot access available food due to a lack of purchasing power. She noted “things will get worse before they get better.”
Keynote speaker Alex Evans, New York University, recalled that we are in the midst of the second food price crisis in three years, signaling a long-term structural shift in supply and demand. He then highlighted statistics regarding trends in climate change and human demand related pressures on land, food sources, and agriculture generally. On the policy response to the 2008 food price crisis, Evans outlined an evolution of political discourse from 2008 to the present, which he said was understood first as a crisis of production, then of access to food, then of trade. He stressed the emerging recognition that this crisis requires policies that consider agricultural sustainability. Evans then lamented, however, that despite this progressive trend the 2011 economic summit in Davos saw movement not from a G8 to a G20 on many issues, but towards a “G0,” with no country willing to take on a real leadership role on key challenges. He also noted that multilateral and bilateral institutions have failed. Evans cited positive examples of landscape restoration based on tenure security including in the Sahel and China, as well as increasingly positive engagement of multinational companies.
In the subsequent panel discussion, Ralph Ashton, Terrestrial Carbon Group, noted that: the current international institutions addressing sustainable development problems are inadequate and have overlapping responsibilities; there is too much opinion and not enough factual authority on sustainable development and food security; and isolated successes have not been adequately replicated or scaled. On solutions, he indicated a need for: a strong coalition on development-related agricultural issues; an authoritative knowledge platform on sustainable development policy and practice; and exemplar countries to provide success stories for scaling-up and replication.
Paul Wolvekamp, BothENDS, reasoned that the world cannot wait for a top down answer to forest and food security issues, and said grassroots approaches are needed because many poor will remain out of reach of a second green revolution. He urged policymakers to end longstanding prejudices that view the poor as drivers of deforestation, and to refocus criticisms on donor financing of large-scale agriculture, industry and mining.
Rupa Mukerji, Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation, described the role of exogenous factors in the success of adaptation interventions, and the challenge of predicting these factors. She stressed the need for multi-stakeholder dialogues and to learn from experiences in the field. Mukerji underscored that problems cannot be adequately addressed within the confines of policy silos. Bastiaan Louman, Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE), described the need to understand the drivers of solutions and positive change. Louman suggested that recent reforestation success in Costa Rica have been more attributable to changes in local perspectives and local governance than national policy interventions, such as payments for environmental services. He underscored that crises can create an impetus for local action.
DISCUSSION: Session Chair van der Heijden called on participants to share reasons for being pessimistic or optimistic about the future of forestry, food security and climate change problems, and to offer solutions. Participants stressed a lack of implementation and expressed frustration with the pace of international negotiations. They lamented the lack of attention to the distribution of food. In the variety of solutions posed, participants suggested: a focus on early childhood education; greater equity in negotiations and development practice; payment of regional prices for food producers; and consideration of tenure rights that empower women.
Louman described efforts to learn from model forests through the Model Forest Network, and the need to provide lessons learned to private businesses, indigenous groups and other actors at the landscape level. Ashton said that, while knowledge is available, there is a need to develop consensus and authority on facts and how to implement them. He noted the challenge of addressing intergenerational and inter-country challenges. Mukerji highlighted the power of working with youth and local governance institutions. Evans expressed misgivings on food sovereignty discussions, considering potential negative impacts on food importing countries, and suggested focusing on how food trade operates. To capitalize on shocks, he stressed the need to have: solutions ready “off the shelf”; strong coalitions; and strong narrative storylines to justify behavior changes.
SESSION 2: CURRENT STATUS ON RIGHTS, LIVELIHOODS AND GOVERNANCE
José Carlos Fernández, National Forestry Commission of Mexico, chaired the session on Wednesday morning, noting that REDD+ provides an opportunity to consider how sustainable rural development can be promoted more effectively. Jeffrey Hatcher, RRI, gave a keynote presentation on tenure and international forestry issues, underscoring that many countries targeted by global climate and food security interventions: have high instances of corruption; lack political freedoms; have areas of conflict; and present challenging business environments. Hatcher noted emerging lessons from a body of robust research that shows: local tenure and forest management are key for emissions reductions, biodiversity conservation, and sustainable livelihoods; large-scale forest restoration is possible with political will and strong local tenure; without secure, clear tenure rights, projects will face challenges; small-holders contribute to food security; and community forest enterprises can work. He demonstrated that most National Adaptation Programmes of Action, REDD+ frameworks, and responses to food security do not adequately consider these tenure lessons. Hatcher posed questions related to participation of fragile governments in REDD+, the need for international signals that a REDD+ mechanism will emerge, approaches to support successful programmes and evidence for the importance of tenure and governance reform. He encouraged community-based approaches for meeting national environmental goals and wood and fuel demands; as well as leveraging private sector land-based investment for addressing land security.
In subsequent panel discussions, Yefred Myenzi, LARRRI/HAKIARDHI, noted that in many African countries the official status of rural land is based on rough estimates without adequate ground surveys, resulting in the threat that rural populations will be pushed off of customarily held lands. He called for support for comprehensive registration and land titling, as well as greater enforcement of progressive land laws. Frank Matose, University of Cape Town, expressed concern that biofuel and REDD+ initiatives may result in: exclusion and alienation of communities; expropriation of lands; and undermining of existing commons governance systems. He stressed the need for new partnerships to emerge and existing ones to evolve.
Karin Verstralen, Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO), offered a view from the private sector, saying FMO’s current focus is on energy, agriculture and payments for forest carbon and ecosystems services. She said FMO uses the project and loan evaluation criteria of the International Finance Corporation, Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil, Roundtable for Sustainable Biofuels, and the Voluntary Carbon Standard, all of which incorporate property rights considerations to some degree. She then highlighted examples of large biofuels investors that, contrary to popular criticism, do incorporate local farmers, sell fuel domestically and generate electricity for the national grid.
Frits van der Wal, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said fragile governments are unable to stop deforestation, improve distribution of food, or improve access to markets on their own. He added that the international community should be the source of signals for local action, and concluded by highlighting that, in many cases, open dialogues are more important than funding.
DISCUSSION: In the ensuing discussion, participants asked how to attract the interest of the private sector to participate in tenure initiatives and inquired about lessons learned from countries feeling negative impacts of foreign investment in land. One suggested that land grabbing be viewed in the wider context of water, gene, and forest grabbing. Another noted that land grabbing is not only an international threat, as domestic actors also are engaged in land grabbing. She highlighted the challenge of addressing tenure within the short-timeframes used by private investors. One participant stressed that national governments have few incentives to stop deforestation, highlighting the conflicting interests between industrialization and reducing deforestation. Another participant highlighted evidence that successful environment initiatives are based more on tenure security, not necessarily on tenure rights. Others stressed that, in many cases, women are crucial for family food security, whereas men tend to focus on cash crops.
Van der Wal commented that, in some countries, the financial sector is pushing for addressing land rights to secure collateral for rural borrowers. Verstralen suggested that national frameworks are inadequate for ensuring that environmental and social standards are met, and that this results in high costs for the private sector. She suggested that the rhetoric around the private sector has dissuaded many private sector actors from participating in tenure activities. Matose underscored the importance of government stability in addition to strong land rights laws. Myenzi cautioned against a “one-size-fits-all” template for rural development and land rights.
Hatcher reiterated that unsustainable investments could spark wider conflict in countries where citizens are excluded from political processes. He suggested that countries have demonstrated a willingness to realign their forest policies to participate in REDD+ and that this could provide useful lessons going forward, because of the promise of investment. He said that showing countries that securing tenure can promote investment might open windows of opportunity.
SESSION 3: FOCUS ON CLIMATE
Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, TEBTEBBA, chaired the session on Wednesday afternoon, noting that UNFCCC negotiations on REDD+ are more developed than those on agriculture. She noted that some countries are hesitant to bring agriculture into mitigation negotiations for fear it will be integrated into REDD+ or market discussions.
Sara Scherr, EcoAgriculture Partners, made a keynote presentation on integrating land use and agriculture into landscape emission reduction activities. She noted that most of the world’s forests are de facto managed by farmers. She outlined local and policy drivers of deforestation and stressed that agriculture intensification alone is not adequate to protect forests. She described the need to move from “silos to synergies,” and move to Reduced Emissions from All Land Uses (REALU) through climate-smart agricultural landscapes. To promote this, she described the need for cross-sectoral, multi-stakeholder landscape planning, which is contingent on harmonizing sectoral policies. Scherr suggested: rewarding good resource stewardship with stronger rights; limiting agricultural concessions on public land; and addressing conflicts between various rights-holders. Noting the relatively small role of climate funding within international development budgets, she called for the use of climate funding to leverage investments and shift agriculture and rural development investments.
In the panel discussion, Scott Poynton, Tropical Forest Trust, appealed for participants not to discount the importance of including businesses in dialogues over forests. He noted that logging and agriculture are not root drivers of deforestation, but that money is. He said taking this point seriously would alter discussions on how to save forests by acknowledging that short-term profit motives drive deforestation, while businesses and farmers with longer-term horizons may be more amenable to considering sustainability as an important component of their activities.
Alain Karsenty, Centre de Coopération International en Recherche Agronomique pour le Dévelopment (CIRAD), said discussions on emissions and deforestation have been skewed by an over-reliance on economic theory, whose assumptions of infinite growth he said will inevitably lead to infinite growth of emissions. Karsenty closed by stressing that the idea of free trade is part of an outdated ideology.
Wolfgang Sterk, FoodFirst Information and Action Network (FIAN) emphasized the role of human rights as the basis for development of sustainable land use and climate change policy, underlining that international commitments oblige states to respect human rights domestically and abroad. Referring to the UNFCCC process, Sterk emphasized that human rights safeguards are not included under the Convention or Kyoto Protocol. He said that human rights violations have been observed under the UNFCCC’s Clean Development Mechanism, and called for a cross-cutting human rights approach.
DISCUSSION: Participants asked the panel for recommendations on how to expose poor corporate practice while still maintaining a productive dialogue with corporate actors and for a strategy to hold companies and countries accountable to human rights obligations. Poynton stressed the need for NGOs to leverage influence by working with business and through supply chains, and for NGOs and the private sector to try to better understand each other’s languages. Tauli-Corpuz pointed to the UNFCCC process and the upcoming COP 17 in Durban as an opportunity to ensure the policy architecture and design of REDD+ is sustainable and respectful of local communities and indigenous peoples. Sterk reemphasized the need to enforce human rights law as it relates to land use policy.
SESSION 4: FOCUS ON FOOD SECURITY
Gaston Grenier, Congo Basin Forest Partnership, chaired the session on Wednesday afternoon and provided a series of questions relating to subsidizing agriculture in developing countries; improving certification processes, particularly related to benefit sharing; and breaking apart the basket of rights (rights of alienation, use rights, exclusion rights, etc.) that accompany land tenure and property rights and are implicated in food security and climate change discussions.
Tom van der Lee, Oxfam Novib, gave a keynote presentation on the Oxfam Grow Initiative and noted that crisis can act as a catalyst of change. He suggested that food prices are directly related to conflict, and the food price challenge is likely to increase in the near term. Van der Lee then described the need to: increase production; mitigate the international scramble for resources; address climate change; and regulate price volatility. On the scramble for resources, he suggested that both the financial and food price crises since 2008 have driven land grabbing. Van der Lee described impacts of climate change on production, as well as agriculture’s impact on climate through land-use change. He postulated that 20-30% of food price hikes in 2008 were caused by increases in biofuel production. He called for investment in small-scale agriculture, particularly by improving governance and securing land rights.
Samuel Bokwe, Member of Parliament, Cameroon, said communities are aware of their food security challenges. He reiterated the challenge of equitable food distribution, adding that the lack of infrastructure in Africa compounds the problem in some of the most undernourished areas of the world, and called for international financing for roads in the name of human rights. He lamented that both the lack of forest planning in Cameroon and limited land ownership rights for women have fueled exploitative forest use practices.
Jenny Bromley, Global Witness, used the example of Cambodia to exemplify perverse effects that foreign direct investment can have in countries with oppressive governments. She highlighted that in recent years the Cambodian government has offered 45% of the country as concessions for various industries. She described resulting conflicts over land and the resulting mass evictions and violent oppression of resistance. Bromley warned that these violations raise important questions for REDD+ in similar oppressive states, and lamented the lack of global attention to these and other sensitive issues.
Bernard Giraud, Danone, described the responsibility of food companies to contribute to improved health via nutrition. He said food companies must invest in food producing communities, and elaborated on Danone Clean Development Mechanism projects in Bangladesh and Senegal that have seen the planting of 10,000 hectares of mangroves. He said Danone is creating the Livelihoods Fund with International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Secretariat to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands to promote knowledge-sharing among stakeholders.
DISCUSSION: In the ensuing discussion, participants: questioned the role of improved seed varieties and seed markets; noted that land implicated in land grabbing is often sold below market value and asked if there are lessons for transparency; and questioned the incentives for companies to invest in ecosystem restoration programmes.
On transparency, Bromley highlighted lessons learned from the extractive industries and the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, including the benefits of revenue transparency. She called for examination of entry points where transparency can influence land deals, outlining lessons from land auctions in Peru. Giraud suggested that consumers could push brands to source locally. On advantages of ecosystem restoration, he noted that decarbonization is an explicit goal of Danone. He then stressed that governments are consulted in all project activities, but that Danone invests primarily in local actors. Van der Lee welcomed the recent promotion of food security and agriculture on the global political agenda, but cautioned that more action is required.
THINKING LONG-TERM AND FOSTERING COMPLEMENTARY ACTIONS
On Thursday morning, Sabina Voogd, Oxfam Novib, opened the session, noting that “the world has problems, but universities have departments,” alluding to the obstacles that lack of communication between communities, sectors, and disciplines pose. She then introduced the method of “backcasting,” which defines a desirable future and then works backwards to identify policies and programmes that will connect the future to the present, as a way to break down these barriers and arrive at common approaches to deal with food security, climate change and other global challenges.
Peter Merry, The Hague Center, facilitated the backcasting exercise, which involved small group work to formulate: visions of the world in 2020; a pathway of steps to arrive at that vision; a storyline to accompany the pathway; and post-Dialogue efforts. Participants were then asked to individually reflect on their visions of integrated solutions to the challenges of facing forests, food security, governance and climate change in 2020.
Participants convened in their groups to consolidate their individual visions. One group’s view focused on global, gender-balanced, fair and sustainable education. Another’s stressed a balance between ecology, economy, and society. A third group’s view focused on well-managed landscapes, organized farmers who understand adaptive responses to climate change, thriving local markets, and policies that enable people to realize personal aspirations. Another group proposed infrastructure improvements in Africa. A final group promoted a vision of reduced hunger, well-respected human rights and effective land policy.
Merry asked participants to envision a fictional scenario in 2020 in which the group has convened to share the “critical milestones” for realizing the solutions outlined in the morning session. Merry outlined the milestones (see the table on the last page of this report), asked participants to describe a pathway toward achieving these milestones and then asked individuals to share the actions they would undertake to realize the 2020 solutions. Responses included:
- Organizing community meetings and new approaches for citizen collaboration;
- Launching a Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative that empowers groups towards rights-based governance in relation to agriculture and food security;
- Working with the private sector to account for negative externalities;
- Working with women and vulnerable groups at the local level on how they can access rights to land;
- Encouraging indigenous peoples to play an active role in UNCSD/Rio+20 to influence decision makers, and holding a dialogue between Indigenous movements and social movements; and
- Working with the arts sector to create a documentary film on solutions to food and climate crises that inspires rather than scares the public.
EMERGING COMMON APPROACHES AND WAYS FORWARD
On Thursday afternoon, Andy White opened the final panel by reminding participants that this meeting had been organized because many practitioners felt the need for greater consideration of agriculture within the climate change community and understanding of the role of forests for food security. He then summarized three promising pathways forward identified from the meeting up to that point, as: new coalitions and new types of partnerships between businesses, communities and governments should be formed; development and global governance institutions need to be rethought, as current systems are less relevant to meet today’s challenges; and the private sector and investors must be constructively engaged and encouraged to innovate towards sustainability. White described opportunities to engage internationally by promoting: a UNFCCC agreement in at COP 17 in Durban that better integrates agriculture and land use; new ideas and initiatives from the UNCSD/Rio+20 meeting; and solutions that build on the aspirations of small-holders to contribute to the follow on to The Hague Global Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change. He closed by saying that a new world order cannot be achieved overnight, but that movement towards a new beginning must start now.
Annelies Zoomers, LANDac, chaired the session and said holding debates that bring various agendas together are of utmost importance. She praised the morning session’s visualization of key moments in a shift towards a more sustainable world as inspiring.
Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, TEBTEBBA, said a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to sustainable development, cognizant of the interconnectedness of ecosystems, societies including human rights and spirituality, as well as economies, needs to be implemented now. She stressed that indigenous knowledge is key to understanding and benefiting from ecosystems services. She closed by saying it is imperative to design a more holistic accounting system to track non-monetary and societal progress, alongside indicators like emission reductions.
Gerda Verburg, Permanent Representative to the FAO, International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme for the Netherlands, said the CSD found that discussions on sustainable development must consider the complex interconnectedness of many global problems. She praised the Dialogue’s aim of thinking of opportunities, pathways and innovative partnerships as more productive than concentrating on problems. She said her time as Chair of the CSD had taught her that one must often be tough on governments to realize change.
Johan Schaar, Director of Policy Support, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, noted that this RRI Dialogue provided an opportunity to look at issues through a new lens. He cautioned that the current US and European political crises limit the possibilities for cooperative international responses to global challenges. He underscored the need to develop an understanding across the vocabularies of different institutions, stressing the challenges faced by governments in articulating long-term visions. He stressed that innovations are broader than technological fixes and include institutional developments and reform. Schaar called for a world conference to learn lessons from states that have managed to cooperate on shared resource management.
Zoomer then asked panelists to consider the role of business in responding to crises. Participants also stressed the need to consider issues related to sustainable consumption, and production. On approaches for climate-smart agriculture, one participant highlighted a report by GRAIN on the positive contributions of smallholder farmers. On consumption, Schaar noted that, while Sweden has both grown its economy and lowered emissions in the past decade, it has also increased imports. He outlined approaches for broader emissions accounting that includes consideration of embedded emissions in products.
Verburg underlined the difficulty of regulating consumption habits, saying that if the contrast between the one billion undernourished people and the one billion overweight people on our planet could be regulated away, it would have been already. She recommended focusing on aspects of these problems for which there are immediate remedies available such as post-harvest waste, which destroys 30-40% of food in Sub-Saharan Africa due to a lack of storage and infrastructure. She added that 20% of all food is thrown away in the Western world, and that this waste can be avoided. Tauli-Corpuz said Indigenous Peoples believe the problems of overconsumption and overproduction are at the core of the world’s problems. Zoomer closed the discussion by highlighting that empirical research on what is happening on the ground is necessary to better understand what catalyzes change.
During his closing remarks, White thanked the organizers and participants, and said that despite the ecological, political, and economic crises the world is facing, he was pleased that participants had identified reasons to be optimistic for positive change. He recalled the importance of using this momentum in schools to change mindsets and help children and students to see that a better world is possible. White closed the meeting at 1:42pm.