[Dateline: New York | Author: DESA]
Ministers, government representatives, experts and major groups as well as high-level representatives of international and regional organizations are gathering at the UN Headquarters in New York for the 17th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), which opened on Monday.
With the number of hungry people approaching 1 billion world-wide and the impacts of climate change at hand, the 53 member-state Commission will discuss and ultimately adopt a series of policy recommendations to guide agricultural development. Their discussion will focus on measures to address drought, desertification, land use, rural development and sustainable development in Africa.
Many of the policy proposals under consideration would help countries directly to confront the challenges posed by the food, financial and climate crises that threaten their development.
The Commission, which runs from 4 to 15 May, was opened by Ms. Gerda Verburg, Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality of the Netherlands, who is the CSD 17 Chairperson. Ms. Verburg called on participants to make a homegrown green revolution a reality by sharing knowledge, scaling-up proven practices and increasing support for sustainable agriculture, especially in Africa, as well as sustainable food chains.
The CDS 17 Chairperson also called for improved market access for agricultural products, especially those of developing countries. “Swords into ploughshares, words into action!” she said, reminding participants of the UN motto and the need to produce concrete deliverables and practical solutions.
Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro pointed out that the world’s farmers have been taken for granted for far too long. “Africa is the epicenter of the global food crisis” she stated, stressing that a sustainable green revolution “must empower farmers, particularly smallholders.” She called on the international community to take steps to assure long-term investment in agriculture, sustainable practices, markets that work in favour of agro-development in poor countries and the judicious management of finite land and water resources.
This year, the Commission has introduced an innovative approach to organizing its work in order to foster dialogue and improve effectiveness. Three High-level Ministerial round-tables will be held on the themes: Responding to the Food Crisis through Sustainable Development; Realizing a Green Revolution in Africa; and Integrated Management of Land and Water Resources for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development.
During the two-week session, Ministers will have the opportunity for intensive dialogues on the themes with representatives of civil society joined in the Major Groups, with the policy research community, and with the heads of UN agencies and Chairs of Governing Councils and Executive Boards of UN Organizations.
In addition to the negotiated outcome of the meeting, the Ministerial roundtables and dialogues will lead to a separate political vision meant to advance the agenda of sustainable agriculture and rural development.
The CSD will also foster the broad participation of governmental and non-governmental actors through a number of activities running concurrently with the negotiations, including a Partnerships Fair, a Learning Centre offering short-courses on a range of practical topics, and a series of Side Events showcasing sustainable development initiatives from around the world.