Friday, September 27, 2013

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Releases Trade and Environment Report 2013

On September 18, 2013, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development released the Trade and Environment Report 2013.  It is subtitled “Wake up before it is too late: Make agriculture truly sustainable now for food security in a changing climate.”  More than 60 international experts contributed to the report.  This report states that persistent world hunger, continuing rural poverty, increasing populations, and increasing environmental concerns should be treated as one collective crisis.

The report contends that imbalances between where food is produced and where it is needed would need to be fixed, as would the current agriculture trade regulations and the power imbalance between the agricultural input and food-processing markets.  The report recommends a shift away from “conventional, monoculture-based… industrial production” of food which relies heavily on external inputs such as fertilizer toward “mosaics of sustainable regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale farmers and foster rural development.”  The report also discusses how climate change will drastically impact agricultural production and cites a number of trends which are indicative of a mounting crisis.

The report emphasizes a need to make agriculture more sustainable.  It says that monoculture and industrial farming methods are not providing sufficient affordable food where it is needed and are causing environmental damage.  High priority should be given to helping the rural poor become food self-sufficient or to earn enough income from agricultural production in order to buy food, according to the report.  It further says that the past strategy of focusing on specialized production and export of “lucrative” cash crops while relying on foreign markets for staple products is no longer working.  This strategy, according to the report, has created cost pressures, furthered the environmental crisis of agriculture, and has reduced resilience in agriculture.

See the full report here.  Find the UNCTAD official press release here.  For more information on UNCTAD, visit their website.

Written by Alyssa Looney – Research Assistant
The Agricultural Law Resource and Reference Center

September 27, 2013

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