Judith Qeholo collects vegetables from community gardens in remote Solomon Islands. Local farmers are reporting that more and more, pests and diseases are reducing their yields. Copright: Alison Binney, Econnect Communication.

Will we ever be able to grow enough food to feed 9 billion people?

17 October, 2013, NSJ

World leaders and scientific experts will deliberate this question in Warsaw next month when they gather at the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF).

Can we grow enough food for 9 billion people without destroying Earth’s forests and accelerating climate change?

The inaugural event is positioning itself to be the most crucial driving force behind the next round of international climate change policies and sustainable development goals —  the Kyoto protocol ends in 2020 and the Millennium Developments Goals (MDG) will be replaced by new Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in 2015.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that agricultural production will have to increase by 60% by 2050 to satisfy global demands for food and feed.

The landscapes forum amalgamates what was originally 2 separate world events — Agriculture and Rural Development Day and Forest Day. The GLF will explore the role of forests and agriculture in mitigating and adapting to climate change.

Organisers say that solutions and policies to help answer the biggest question of our time—food security—can only be realised by removing the silos that still exist at global, regional and national levels.

The MDGs are fragmented, especially when it comes to land-based sectors, rural development and the environment,” says Peter Holmgren, Director General for one of the organisers of the Forum, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

“As an example, forests are only dealt with under the environment goal and changes in forest area are the only indicator of progress – so there is a strong focus on conservation and less on the wider contributions of forestry to sustainable development,” he says.

“The inertia of the UN system and the political process so far suggests that the SDGs will resemble the MDGs. But I think we could and should do better.

A separate SDG goes against the spirit of the post-2015 agenda

“CIFOR was invited to contribute as a non-UN institution to the issue brief on forests, but we withdrew as we would not agree to table ‘a specific SDG on forests’ as an option. Our argument is that such a narrow SDG is neither viable, nor desirable. Forestry needs to contribute to many of the challenges for the future, but arguing for a separate SDG goes against the spirit of the post-2015 agenda.”

More than 1000 leaders and experts will gather in Warsaw, Poland, of whom 100 will lead intensive technical sessions and discussion forums over two days, 16-17 November, with the purpose of having some clearer views for how to deliver sustainable investments into a food secure future.

The forum is taking place alongside the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s annual Conference of the Parties (COP 19), which represents the most intensive effort yet to place these themes on the global agenda as a single “landscape” concept, and to link this concept to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, will be keynote speaker at the Forum.

Other confirmed speakers include:

  • COP President and Polish Minister of the Environment, Marcin Korolec
  • Polish Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Stanislaw Kalemba
  • President of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Peter Bakker
  • World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development, Rachel Kyte
  • Executive Secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Braulio Dias

The Forum is jointly coordinated by CIFOR on behalf of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, and by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) on behalf of a global consortium of leading Agriculture and Rural Development organizations.


Image: Judith Qeholo collects vegetables from remote gardens in Solomon Islands. Pacific islands farmers report that, more and more, pests and diseases are reducing their crop yields.

Image credit: Alison Binney, Econnect Communication


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