The European Commission organised a joint high-level event at the Rio Summit of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, outlining the important role that sustainable agricultural practices and development policies can play to reduce poverty, hunger and malnutrition, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection.
"About 500 million smallholdings of less than 2 hectares provide a living and food for 2 billion people in Asia and in Africa. Imagine what even a small gain of productivity multiplied by half a billion could mean for food security at global level. Increasing agricultural productivity needs long term commitments, followed steadily by national governments, private sector as well as international donors. Sustainable agriculture is not a luxury but a necessity. It concerns us all, whether we live in Europe, or on any other place on Earth", stated Dacian Cioloş, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development in the opening of the event.
"Agriculture and food security are pivotal in driving growth. There is an obvious link between our natural resource base and lifting people out of poverty. Addressing poverty is about access to safe drinking water, sufficient, healthy and nutritious food, sustainable energy and a safe and healthy environment. The green economy cannot take off unless crucial resources such as water, energy and land are well managed and sustainable economic activity in these areas is allowed to prosper. That is why sustainable agriculture is a top priority in the European Union's Agenda for Change", underlined Andris Piebalgs, EU Commissioner for Development in his key note speech.
The event provided an opportunity for prominent speakers, from Brazil to the African Union, to share and debate experiences on policies to promote sustainable agriculture and development. Together with the two EU Commissioners, speakers included Rhoda Tumusiime, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union, Pepe Vargas, Brazilian Ministry of Agrarian Development, Elisabeth Atangana, President of the Pan-African Farmers' Forum (PAFFO) and Andre Leu, President International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM)