Sustainable farming organisations disappointed with Zero Draft of the Rio Conference
Six main speakers at the workshop were: Vandana Shiva (Navdanya), Hans Herren (Biovision), Nadia Scialabba (FAO), Ulrich Hoffman (UNCTAD) and Thilak Karijawasam (INOFO).
Vandana Shiva expressed her great disappointment with Zero Draft and called the conference ‘Rio -20’. She explained that there are three things that worry her. Firstly, Zero Draft is not building on earlier commitments from two previous Earth Summits. Secondly, the document lays too much emphasis on biosynthetic technologies. Finally, it leaves sustainable agriculture out of the piorganicture and hardly mentions this type of agriculture in relation to ‘big’ issues of the conference such as water, green jobs, biodiversity, land degradation, cities. At the end of her speech Vandana Shiva suggested that achieving greater integration of the findings of the IAASTD report in the Rio+20 outcome document should be the goal for farming organisations in the preparation process to the conference in June.
Hans Herren emphasized that Rio conference is the moment when the world will decided about its future. Farming organisations should help policy-makers choose the right way forward which, according to him, is sustainable agriculture based on multifunctional, agro-ecological, and organic approaches. He also warned that organisations such as World Bank try to introduce ‘Troyan horse’ of biosynthetic technologies into the system. He made a concrete proposal for creation of the international institution that focuses specifically on agriculture. He also called for organized effort to change consumers’ behavior, including support for diets that are based on grains and vegetables rather than meat.
Nadia Scialabba and Ulrich Hoffman explained position of the international organisations, such as FAO and UN towards greening economy. According to Nadia Sciabballa, with the shift from food quantity-focused towards food quality-focused thinking, FAO realized the importance of the sustainable agriculture, especially with regards to issues such as food and nutrition security and creating decent rural livelihoods. Also Ulrich Hoffman noted that food crisis in 2008 started a paradigm change towards more quality oriented approaches within the UN system. However, he shared the reflection that there is still little political willingness for drastic change and that the majority of the policy-makers want to ‘produce more with less’ but not in a different manner.
Ulrich Hoffman was strongly disappointed that Zero Draft of the Rio+20 outcome document does not recognize conventional farming as a problem and listed many issues that are missing in the document. Among others, the document does not make commitments to drastically reduce the impact of the conventional agriculture, recognize sustainable farming approaches as innovation systems, support local knowledge rather than biosynthetic solutions and push for eco-functional intensification.
Speaking from the perspective of farmers, Thilak Karijawasam noted that Zero Draft focuses on corporate farmers and is not sensitive enough to the problems of the small-scale farmers. Especially, he was concerned about the lack of effort to tackle issues related to trade barriers affecting the farmers. Criticism and feeling of disappointment dominated in the speeches delivered during the workshop.
The speakers shared the opinion that Zero Draft ‘green-washes’ old system and does not provide sufficient framework for system redesign. They all worried about the lack of recognition of the detrimental effect of the conventional agriculture, attempts to present biosynthetic technologies as a solution to the global problems and disregard of the sustainable agriculture based on agro-ecological, multifunctional approaches. The official response of the IFOAM is in preparation. Let’s hope that this time it is better heard by policy-makers.
Text: Marta Dabrowska