May 15, 2012

Shifting a Sustainable Development Paradigm

Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative co-organizers the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) gear up for the United Nations Convention on Sustainable Development Rio+20.  This upcoming meeting is an important one for the Initiative, as it is the ideal setting to bring together all three objectives – supporting people’s livelihoods, producing food, and protecting the environment. When asked in a recent video, where  does agriculture fit into the Rio+20 agenda, Achim Stein, the Executive Director of UNEP, asserted “right in the heart of the agenda.” He goes on to describe farmers as restorers and  managers of ecosystems, but that current incentives push farms towards unsustainable production methods and rapid environmental degradation. For the 20th anniversary of the 1992 UNCSD, Mr. Steiner argues that this meeting is about agreeing on a “shared policy direction,” where both individuals and whole sectors (e.g. agriculture) need to be involved in the next phase of sustainable development. This means shifting away from the paradigm of the last two centuries, which has pushed us beyond the “planetary boundaries,” and decouple further economic growth from impacts on the natural capital base. Last week, we highlighted Bioversity International’s Road to Rio+20 campaign, focused on agrobiodiversity, human nutrition, and conservation. As Rio+20 draws closer, stay tuned for more coverage.
Watch the video on the IFAD media website.

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