Fact Sheet on the Green Economy - Agriculture

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The agricultural and food production sector forms one of the basic pillars of the green economy. Against a background of new global challenges, namely the worlwide population explosion and the loss of natural resources, the systems used in agriculture and food production are under pressure to produce more from fewer resources. In addition, they must be more resilient in order to cope with climate fluctuations and volatile market prices. In the future they will have to contribute towards the development of rural and upland areas; in this respect, the aim is to maintain a basis for economic activity.

For the declaration that will be passed at the UN Rio+20 Conference on Sustainability, the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG) has drawn up practical proposals based principally on Swiss agricultural policy and its strategy for 2025, but taking into account too Switzerland’s international obligations, in particular to the FAO.

1.     Drawing up a common international agricultural vision and strengthening its convergence with the Committee on World Food Security (CFS)

Although there are differences between the situation in the industrialised countries and that in emerging countries, all visions for agriculture should have one and the same aim: to develop efficient systems for agriculture and food production which, on the basis of their sustainability and resilience, guarantee the provision of food for everyone on the planet, ensure the availability and quality of natural resources and provide aceptable living conditions for farmers as well as for rural populations. As an international platform, the CFS addresses the issues surrounding guaranteed provision of food and has the necessary means for promoting political convergence and implementing the decisions taken at the Rio+20 Conference.

2.     A new role for sustainable agriculture as a major element in the green economy for sustainable development, the fight against poverty and ensuring food supplies

With regard to employment, land-use and natural resources, agriculture, which encompasses the entire food production sector in the wider sense, is the most important economic sector worldwide. It is and will remain the driving force behind development in many countries. Sustainable agriculture and food production have an important influence on the three aspects of sustainable development and are consequently a key sector of the green economy.

3.     Increasing the resilience of agricultural and food production systems and sustainable practices

In order to increase the economic, social and ecological resilience of agricultural and food production systems it is necessary to improve market transparency, to maintain biodiversity and the quality and

availability of water and to preserve the extent and fertility of agricultural land. To achieve these aims it is essential, in particular, to introduce ways of compensating farmers for ecological performance. Access to production resources – principally land and water – and financial support for women and small farms are essential if the resilience of production systems is to be increased. Sustainable practices must be adopted that result in the more efficient use of resources as well as a reduction in the amount of produce lost after harvest and food wastage.

Contact and additional information: François Pythoud, Head of the International Sustainable Agriculture Section, tel. 031 323 44 45