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Rio +20: A vision unfulfilled

25. June 2012

    Governments have failed to take the bold steps necessary to safeguard the health of the planet and promote achievable and sustainable solutions to eradicate chronic hunger, concludes the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA) as the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) ends today.

    While the final conference outcome document, “The Future we Want”, acknowledges and reaffirms the right of everyone to adequate food, according to Peter Prove, EAA Executive Director, it “does not clearly commit to the agro-ecological paradigm shift required to feed the world’s population sustainably and justly. “ He stated that the document “leaves the door open for greater intensification of industrial agriculture – a system that has proved unsuccessful in eradicating hunger sustainably and has led to near collapse of ecosystems and communities.”

    “Instead of farming Monsanto’s way”, Prove declared, “we need to be farming God’s way.”

    EAA member organizations, through the “Food for Life” campaign, continue to call on world leaders to realise the environmental, social and economic benefits of smallholder-based agro-ecological food production, and to commit to shifting their focus to supporting the scaling-up of sustainable food production using these methods. The campaign calls on leaders to implement the International Agricultural Assessment on Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) recommendations in research, policy and practice, as a guide to more sustainable methods of food production.

    “We urge governments to support agriculture systems that enhance soil productivity, build community resilience in the face of climate change and contribute to the eradication of poverty and hunger,” said Gisele Henriques, Food Officer for CIDSE, an EAA member organization. “Such systems exist, they are agro-ecological models, which have been tried and tested the world over.”

    The conference outcome document briefly acknowledges the need to promote sustainable consumption patterns and references reducing food waste and post harvest losses, which Christine Campeau, EAA’s Food Campaign Coordinator, welcomes as a “tremendous opportunity”. “All of the hungry people in the world could be lifted out of undernourishment on less than 25% of the food that is wasted in the United States and Europe alone,” she stated. But the relevant provision of the document fails to address the issue with sufficient priority and urgency, given that 1.3 billion tons of food – or one-third of global food production – is wasted each year.

    Campeau also welcomed the conference’s reaffirmation of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and its role in facilitating country-led assessments on sustainable food production and food security, as well as the acknowledgment of the importance of traditional seed supplies and the role of women in rural and agricultural development.

    But while Rio+20 has defined a process for articulating ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ to guide future development processes, it has not provided sufficient and appropriate content for those goals, and has missed the opportunity to shift global agriculture onto a path towards ecological sustainability and justice for the hungry.

    “The food crisis was not a one-off event but rather the failure of our agricultural and food production model – it was avoidable and in fact, will not go away unless we get to the root of this problem” said Henriques.

    “If our goal is to make sustainable solutions for all of us on this planet,” said Campeau, “then smallholder farmers and agro-ecological methods of food production must be at the centre of our strategies.”

    Information on the positions related to the EAA and its members can be found at:


The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance is a broad international network of churches and Christian organizations cooperating in advocacy on food and HIV and AIDS. The Alliance is based in Geneva, Switzerland. For more information, see http://www.e-alliance.ch/

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HIV and AIDS Campaign
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