Panama.— Dialogue, consensus and commitment were all key phrases articulated during the 6th multi-stakeholder partnership meeting (MSP) of the Global Agenda for sustainable livestock, held June 20-23 in the Central American country’s capital.
On June 21 – in the context of the international event – both Cuba and Ethiopia became members of the Global Agenda for sustainable livestock, brining the total number of official signatory nations to this worldwide initiative to 62.
Granma International offers readers a summary of the event, the outcomes of which are today are being strengthened through a coordinated work platform.
A FORUM WITH A REGIONAL PERSECTIVE
Parallel to the meeting, on June 22, a Forum focusing on public policy challenges in countries throughout the Latin American and Caribbean region took place, with the aim of developing a sustainable livestock agenda for the area which coherently outlines the necessary technology, investment, and financing needed to guarantee sustainability.
This was the dish of the day served at the event which saw the participation of regional ministers and parliamentarians, facing the challenge of maintaining their nations’ role as major global food producers, while also lifting 34 million people worldwide out of hunger, without impacting achievements made by the region in 2015, toward fulfilling the Millennium Develop Goals.
Nonetheless, the current Sustainable Development Agenda, featuring a further 17 ambitious goals – in the best sense of the word – demonstrates the importance of establishing goals linked to public policies aimed at guaranteeing the salvation of the human species. Meanwhile the challenge of developing sustainable strategies to feed a growing global population features among some of the most pressing challenges.
This, according to Dr. Tito Díaz, sub-regional coordinator of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for Mesoamerica speaking during the Forum. He noted that the region’s livestock sector generates more than 79 billion dollars a year, and is experiencing above average global growth. However, the question now is how to contribute, through this vitally important activity, to food security worldwide.
For Díaz, also secretary of the FAO Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean, this means changing methods and mentalities toward livestock ranching in the region, with a real and tangible commitment from governments, producers, academics, civil society, and organizations, with broad participation from both the public and private sector. He also highlighted the importance of maintaining focus on the social and environmental factor within economic analyses.
According to the expert, the FAO – which supports the individual needs of each member country – is directing its efforts toward strengthening public policies and institutional frameworks linked to the development of sustainable livestock through three areas: improving the sector’s contribution to food and nutritional security; reducing rural poverty; and the sustainable management of natural resources, in addition to adaptation, mitigation and management of risks associated with climate change.
This equation also features intersecting elements including knowledge, research and innovation; adequate information and analysis to inform decision making; as well as necessary investment and finance policies, which enable plans to be implemented. These ingredients are an important fertilizer for the productive soil of cooperation, with the added fundamental aspect of solidarity between nations.
“It is less costly to begin to invest in mitigation and adaptation issues than to do nothing,” added Díaz, a clear warning of the future price humanity could be obliged to pay, which at the current rate, might be un-payable.
Later, Ren Wang, FAO deputy director of agriculture, praised participants for their commitment, and efforts undertaken regarding this issue which brought them the event in Panama, and emphasized that the fundamental objective of the Global Agenda for sustainable livestock is to align it with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Change agreement, as this global platform “is in the hands of members, partners, and the multi-stakeholders,” who give it life.
We are here to share knowledge and improve practices. Today our job is to summarize, to outline, what we are going to do and what our new direction is, noted Wang.
Meanwhile, Paraguay’s Deputy Minister of Livestock, Marcos Medina highlighted that the Latin American and Caribbean region is the biggest producer of animal protein on the planet and is an important global exporter of livestock.
According to the FAO, at a time when population is expected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050, food production worldwide must increase by 70% in order to meet growing global demand, noted Medina. For Latin America “the farm of the world,” producing food for humanity is not only an opportunity, but also a commitment and a responsibility, stated Paraguay’s deputy minister of Livestock.
Also participating in the fruitful debate were – among other senior officials, Julio Calderón, executive secretary of the Central American Agricultural Council; Jorge Arango, Panama’s Minister of Agricultural Development; and Ángel Estévez Bourdied, minister of Agriculture for the Dominican Republic, current president pro tempore of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).
Representing Cuba, Aldaín García, director of livestock at the country’s Ministry of Agriculture, reiterated the island’s willingness to collaborate on such issues, while also tackling and resolving its own challenges as a country. In regards to public policies, he noted that the Cuban government has granted around a million and a half hectares of land in usufruct in order to stimulate agricultural production. Sustainability hasn’t been a slogan but a necessary response – together with scientific research to benefit the sector – for a country which has been the victim of a blockade for over 50 years, he stated.
Among the most positive outcomes of the Forum was the approval of the Ministerial Declaration of the region, which includes a strategic vision on public policy in their area of action and will contribute to work agendas of other regional and sub-regional entities.
WHEN CENTRAL AMERICA LEADS TO ROME
The biggest impact of the meeting between ministers and parliamentarians of the region was felt in Rome, when on June 30, senior representatives traveled to the Italian capital to participate in an encounter organized by the International Agricultural Development Fund (IADF) in coordination with the FAO and World Food Program.
Developing strategies to combat the effects of the El Niño weather phenomenon in Central America's Dry Corridor was the main focus of the event, held in Italy, where the headquarters of these three UN organizations are located.
According to a FAO report, El Niño has had a devastating impact on agriculture in that specific area, which has seen some of the worst droughts in recent decades, jeopardizing food security for some 3.5 million people. Given this situation 2.8 million people living in the most severely affected nations - El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – depend on food aid.
The regional compass is clearly pointing toward a long-term action plan, able to confront the challenges resulting from El Niño, as well as strengthen resilience mechanisms linked to food and nutritional security for the most vulnerable sectors.
According to FAO Director General, José Graziano da Silva, speaking during the inauguration of the event, “The challenge facing the Dry Corridor is not only climate change, but also extreme poverty, and food and nutritional insecurity.” In a report by the FAO, its director general called to “change traditional response strategies, and combat the structural causes of poverty and food insecurity in the Central American Dry Corridor, and not settle with simply organizing a humanitarian response every time there is an emergency situation.”
According to Kanayo F. Nwanze, president of the IADF, even when a humanitarian response to victims of those affected El Niño is necessary, “The only way to guarantee future food security in the region is to invest in long-term development, in order to help people to better defend themselves against the impacts.”
For her part, executive director of the World Food Program, Ertharin Cousin noted the link between the effectiveness of actions and collaboration between multiple actors, urging more efficient disaster prevention and mitigation measures, as opposed to emergency response actions.
Speaking with Granma prior to the meeting Dr. Tito Díaz highlighted the scope of the issue which represents a common challenge for the sub-region. “We have nations which share ecosystems, such as the four countries in the Dry Corridor (Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador), which are located in a zone with very complex environmental conditions, and are also the four poorest countries in Central America.
“That is to say, there is a link between the degradation of natural resources and poverty. The general problem is that poor people have gradually been displaced to more degraded areas, so the challenge is how to efficiently manage these resources in order to avoid degradation problems,” noted the FAO sub-regional coordinator for Mesoamerica.
Considering the lessons and challenges that these events present, common sense points toward the creation of alliances to achieve shared goals; strengthening aspects which unite us over those which divide us in geographical terms; turning individual intelligence into collective benefit; and above all, moving ahead with solutions which should have already been formulated, conscious of the pledge - repeated by country after country - to save our global home: a change in attitudes toward resilience and development is needed. But development built upon the pillars of sustainability - the salvation of the human species.