Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Report. Videoconference: UNCTAD's Trade and Environment Report

Report by: Carolina Herrera Cano* (caroherca@gmail.com)
International Business at Universidad EAFIT, Colombia

Videoconference availlable here

Recognizing the multifunctionality of agriculture

Today, the Trade, Investment, and Development Observatory had the opportunity to assist to the conference “Assuring Food Security and Rural Livelihoods under the Challenges of Global Warming” by Dr. Ulrich Hoffman. This conference was based on the Trade and Environment Review 2013: Wake up before it is too late: Make agriculture truly sustainable now for food security in a changing climate, whose Principal Editor is Dr. Hoffman.

The power and importance that the agriculture sector has is undeniable. Food supply, industry, and also labor depend on this economic activity; certainly agriculture is a multifunctional sector. This ancient practice has evolved through decades, but it seems that this process of evolution is not being enough, compared to the emerging problems related to this sector. This review emphasizes in the necessity to promote a drastic
change in how agriculture is understood nowadays; they highlight the importance of achieving a paradigm shift from a linear perspective, to a holistic approach that can truly understand, and make the most of the multifunctionality of agriculture.

The importance of this change relies on the connection between this sector and problems such as: food security, access to land and water, hunger and poverty, social inequity, poor health and malnutrition, and climate change. As a key conclusion, the review mentions that “agriculture is a major cause and victim of climate change”. Also, despite the decrease in the role of agriculture in the global economy during the last decades, this sector still represents about a 40-60% of the total work force in developing countries. Human dependence on this sector is as evident, as it is the importance of renewing agricultural practices in favor of sustainable development.

The invitation from the Trade and Environment Review 2013 is to promote sustainable practices that can actually redefine “productivity”, strengthen resilience to resources, and that can create changes in inequity around the world. Decisive and coordinated action between the private and public sector is vital; as well as it is a redefinition of sustainability as an “organic, ecological, and resilient” concept. Recognizing the multifunctionality of agriculture will decisively promote sustainable, and inclusive development.

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