Yesterday marked the fourth Agriculture and Rural Development Day, and the first outside of a UNFCCC meeting. From the very beginning, it had a slightly different flavor: landscapes featured prominently on the agenda. Rachel Kyte, World Bank Vice President of Sustainable Development, kicked off the day arguing that “we can’t achieve food security, we can’t achieve nutrition security, without preserving the ecosystem services forests provide; we can’t sustain forests without thinking about feeding a growing population; and we can’t grow food without enough water.” She emphasized that conversations have been evolving across agriculture and forestry, sectors that traditionally moved in very separate circles. Moreover, she addressed how to build landscape approaches that integrate the management of different resources. Rwanda is presented as a case study of landscape-scale restoration and the application of ecosystems-based management.
Kyte concluded with a remark quoted over the course of the day:
“I didn’t want to come to another Agriculture and Rural Development Day…we need to be coming to ‘Landscape Days.’ We need to have the foresters in the room with the farmers and the fishers, with everybody in the research community, with the capital, with the producers, with the guys who know how to do this, and we need to work together to find a way to manage landscapes in an integrated way.”
From there, a series of panel discussions and learning events tackled the issues being raised at the Rio+20 conference. Experts in the field from research, UN, government, NGO, and farmer organizations addressed issues from preserving the natural resource base to securing good nutrition for the millions of undernourished. Learning events served to share concrete examples of success in addressing the recommendations from the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change, including one hosted by three of the Landscapes Initiative co-organizers on how to measure the multiple benefits underlying resilience.
The event brought together enthusiasm around the notion that agriculture can and should be at the heart of sustainable development. Stay tuned to see what comes of the remainder of the Rio+20 UNCSD week. If you missed it, you can watch videos from the day and access other resources on the Agriculture and Rural Development Day website.