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It’s Down 2 Earth - Global Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change

31 October - 5 November 2010 | The Hague, Netherlands

Summary Highlights of the Conference


A view of The Hague from the venue.
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Highlights for Sunday, 31 October 2010
Global Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate ChangeThe Global Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change opened today at the World Forum in The Hague, the Netherlands. The Conference is organized by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, the Netherlands, in cooperation with Ethiopia, Viet Nam, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, the World Bank, and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The Conference is intended as a follow-up to the Shared Vision Statement agreed at the Seventeenth Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-17) in May 2009 and to further develop the agriculture, food security and climate change agenda.

The Conference is expected to produce a roadmap for action linking agriculture-related investments, food security and climate change. The Conference was opened by Henk Bleker, Minister for Agriculture and Foreign Trade, the Netherlands, who called for a prominent role for agriculture at the Sixteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 16) in Cancun, Mexico. Jozias van Aartsen, Mayor, The Hague, suggested that mitigating climate change is a way of achieving the goal of eradicating hunger. HRH Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange, in his capacity as the Chairman of the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, underlined the linkages between water issues and food security, agriculture and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In a video message, HRH Prince of Wales emphasized the importance of resilient agricultural systems and the need for a holistic approach to food production, encompassing the economic, social and environmental dimensions. Andrew Steer, Special Envoy for Climate Change, World Bank, called for increased investment and financing for agriculture and underlined the possibility of increasing financing flows to developing countries through carbon finance.

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Opening Session
Chair Henk Bleker, Minister for Agriculture and Foreign Trade, the Netherlands

Jozias van Aartsen, Mayor, The Hague

Local musicians entertained participants during the opening session.

HRH Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange

Dancers perfoming in the opening session.

Participants watched a video message from HRH Prince Charles, Prince of Wales
Andrew Steer, Special Envoy for Climate Change, World Bank


Highlights for Monday, 1 November 2010
Global Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate ChangeParticipants convened in plenary and working group sessions throughout the day. In the morning plenary, Chair Bleker outlined the intended outcome of the Conference as a roadmap with concrete actions to enable the transition to climate-smart agriculture growth. Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, African Union Commission, presented the message from the African Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change, held from 6-8 September in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Kanayo Nwanze, President, International Fund for African Development, urged participants to recognize that agriculture, food security and climate change are inseparable issues, and suggested that tools and approaches exist and should be leveraged to launch an evergreen revolution. Louise Fresco, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, expressed concern with the climate change focus in agriculture and urged that the roadmap address agricultural intensification, including modernization and new technologies.

Two parallel working groups focused on exploring issues, challenges and opportunities and stocktaking of innovations, with presentations of case studies from Australia, Kenya, Russian Federation and Mexico.

In the afternoon plenary, Robert Watson, University of East Anglia, UK, suggested that improving infrastructure and management of food could eliminate post-harvest loss by 30-40%. Jeremy Hobbs, Oxfam International, outlined principles for addressing the food, economic and financial, and climate crises. Participants then convened in two working groups to discuss practical and replicable models with lessons learned from successful practices in Burkina Faso, Poland, Peru, Spain and Ethiopia.

Side events took place throughout the day, and the investment fair focused on opportunities and challenges for project investments in Africa.

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Plenary Sessions
Chair Henk Bleker, Minister for Agriculture and Foreign Trade, the Netherlands
Participants listening to Henk Bleker’s speech.
Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, delivered a message from the African Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change.

A view of the plenary room.
Kanayo Nwanze, President, International Fund for Agricultural Development

Louise Fresco, Professor, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Highlights for Tuesday, 2 November 2010
Global Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate ChangeOn Tuesday, participants convened in a plenary session in the morning and in working group sessions throughout the day. In the morning plenary, the co-chairs of Working Groups 1 and 2 reported on Monday’s working groups’ outcomes. Michael Jenkins, Forest Trends, reported that during the investment fair on Monday US$1.5 million was committed by the Rockefeller Foundation for three new projects addressing climate change and agriculture in Africa.

Participants then heard four keynote addresses. Dennis Garrity, World Agroforestry Centre, showcased an example of climate-smart agriculture providing solutions to food scarcity by intensifying agriculture systems and increasing drought resilience. Martin Kropff, Wageningen University and Research Centre, the Netherlands, described challenges for agriculture solutions to climate change, including: developing land specific production systems; reducing methane emissions from rice; fixing carbon with grassland; and building low-emission animal production systems. Ralph Ashton, Terrestrial Carbon Group, noted the need to optimize land use to meet multiple demands on land, such as food and biofuels production, and introduced the Land 2050 Initiative, which he said is being developed to deliver solutions. Ben Tax, Rijk Zwaan, the Netherlands, emphasized the role of the plant breeding industry for global food security and noted the risk posed by the patenting of genetic material to the capacity of the industry to continue to innovate in a competitive way.

The morning working group sessions addressed policy measures for agriculture innovation, and successes and challenges in adaptation and mitigation, with presentations from Malawi, Chile, Nepal and Niger. In the afternoon working group sessions, after hearing presentations from Albania, Republic of Korea, India, Morocco, New Zealand and Zambia, participants discussed tools and methodologies to support climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.

Various side events were organized throughout the day, and the investment fair focused on managing carbon emissions through supply chains.

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Plenary Session
The dais during the morning plenary session. L-R: Hans Hoogeveen, Director General, Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation; Chair Henk Bleker, Minister for Agriculture and Foreign Trade, the Netherlands; Dennis Garrity, Director General, World Agroforestry Centre; Ralph Ashton, Chair, Terrestrial Carbon Group; and Ben Tax, CEO, Rijk Zwaan, the Netherlands.
Working Group 1 Co-Chairs Alejandro Silva, Ministry of Agriculture, Lifestock and Fisheries, Argentina, and Jamshed Merchant, Agriculture and Agri-Food, Canada
Working Group 2 Co-Chair Yemi Akinbamijo, African Union Commission
Michael Jenkins, Forest Trends
Dennis Garrity, Director General, World Agroforestry Centre
Participants during Dennis Garrity’s presentation

Martin Kropff, Wageningen University and Research Centre, the Netherlands

Ralph Ashton, Terrestrial Carbon Group

Ben Tax, CEO, Rijk Zwaan, the Netherlands

Highlights for Wednesday, 3 November 2010
Global Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate ChangeOn Wednesday, the Conference discussed financing of climate-smart agriculture in a plenary session in the morning and in working group sessions throughout the day. In the morning plenary, the co-chairs of Working Groups 1 and 2 reported on Tuesday's working groups and a report from the investment fair was presented.

Four keynote speakers introduced the issues to be discussed during the day. Warren Evans, Director, Environment Department, World Bank, presented the World Bank’s climate finance instruments, including the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience and the BioCarbon Fund. Charlotte Streck, Director, Climate Focus, discussed the potential in linking agriculture and climate change and seizing financing opportunities such as that offered by the pledge by developed countries to provide US$10 billion in fast track funding. Stefan Baecke, Rabobank, described the Rabo Food and Agri Real-assets Management (Rabo FARM), and outlined enabling factors for increasing investment. Don McCabe, Canadian Federation of Agriculture, emphasized the role of policies in shaping markets and providing economic incentives to farmers. An outline of the roadmap was then circulated to participants by the Conference Secretariat.

The working groups discussed financing of agriculture for climate change mitigation and adaptation with presentations on: the REDD+ Partnership; index-based livestock insurance in Mongolia; financial policy measures for sustainable agriculture in the United States; a BioCarbon Fund project in Kenya; conservation agriculture in South Africa. They also heard presentations from Danone, Yara International, Meridian Institute and Kilimo Trust.

Various side events were organized throughout the day, and the Investment Fair focused on creative incentives to reduce the destruction of natural forests from major agricultural commodities.

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Plenary Session
The dais during the morning plenary session. L-R: Hans Hoogeveen, Director General, Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation; Warren Evans, Director, Environment Department, World Bank; Charlotte Streck, Director, Climate Focus; Stefan Baecke, Rabobank; and Don McCabe, Ontario Federation of Agriculture.
Working Group 2 Co-Chair Yemi Akinbamijo, African Union Commission
Alejandro Silva’s presentation
Working Group 1 Co-Chair Alejandro Silva, Ministry of Agriculture, Lifestock and Fisheries, Argentina
Michael Jenkins, Forest Trends (right), reported from the Investment Fair, highlighting the commitment of the Dutch Government to provide seed funding for the “Food for All” project.

Charlotte Streck, Director, Climate Focus
Warren Evans, Director, Environment Department, World Bank
Don McCabe, Canadian Federation of Agriculture

Stefan Baecke, Rabobank, during his presentation on Rabo Food and Agri Real-assets Management (Rabo FARM)

Highlights for Thursday, 4 November 2010
Global Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate ChangeOn Thursday morning, participants met in a plenary session to hear four keynote presentations. HRH Princess Máxima of the Netherlands, UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, emphasized that financial services underline and accelerate rural development, and that financial services will only be effective within a broader enabling environment. Kofi Annan, Chairman, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, expressed optimism that Africa, which is hardest hit by climate change and food insecurity, can be part of a global solution to combat climate change, for example by transforming carbon sources to carbon sinks. He shared the work of the Alliance, which focuses on smallholder farmers and provides access to new crops and knowledge, reliable weather information, better land and water management programmes, and investment. Jeffrey Sachs, Director, Earth Institute, the United States, by video message, highlighted the need for financial means for impoverished farmers to purchase quality fertilizers and seeds and a second green revolution to address environmental problems. Feike Sijbesma, CEO, DSM, stressed the potential of biotechnology, particularly for waste utilization, to support a shift from fossil fuel use and the need for stronger private-public partnerships for knowledge and technology sharing.

Michael Jenkins, CEO, Forest Trends, reported from Wednesday’s Investment Fair discussion on whether large-scale commodity production can be turned from a leading cause of deforestation to a driver of sustainability.

Chair Bleker presented the draft roadmap for action and participants made comments and provided elements for further elaboration. Two parallel Ministerial Roundtables discussed the draft roadmap throughout the day. The Investment Fair focused on public-private partnerships.

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Plenary Session
The dais during the morning plenary session. L-R: Feike Sijbesma, CEO, DSM; Kofi Annan, Chairman, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa; HRH Princess Máxima of the Netherlands, UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development; Chair Henk Bleker, Minister for Agriculture and Foreign Trade, the Netherlands; and Hans Hoogeveen, Director General, Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation.
Kofi Annan, Chairman, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa
HRH Princess Máxima of the Netherlands, UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development
Participants listening to Kofi Annan’s speech.
Feike Sijbesma, CEO, DSM
Participants watched a video message from Jeffrey Sachs, Director, Earth Institute, United States

Highlights for Friday, 5 November 2010
Global Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate ChangeOn Friday morning, participants met in a working group to discuss a revised draft of the roadmap. A closed Ministerial meeting was also held in the morning. In the closing plenary session in the afternoon, Working Group 1 Co-chair Jamshed Merchant said the Conference created a common understanding about the reality of the issues of agriculture, food security and climate change, and stressed that the next step was for participants to ensure that they continue reflecting on the discussions and consider how they can take immediate action. Working Group 1 Co-Chair Silva noted that the Conference had produced a roadmap that is dynamic and flexible. Working Group 2 Co-Chair Akinbamijo shared his hope that the momentum built through the intense exchange of ideas will be sustained, and commended participants for taking on these challenges, especially on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable communities, sharing an African proverb: “If the house is leaking, look out for the one sleeping on the wet ground.”

Ignacio Rivera Rodriguez, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food, Mexico, suggested that climate change is an opportunity to change the way societies produce, consume and develop, emphasizing that actions by governments must be accompanied by strong actions by all levels of society.

In his closing remarks, Chair Bleker said the ministerial roundtables have produced a sign of optimism that agriculture, food security and climate change challenges can be explored in an integrated way, and announced that in 2012, a follow-up conference will be hosted by Viet Nam.

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Plenary Session
L-R: Working Group 1 Co-Chair Jamshed Merchant, Agriculture and Agri-Food, Canada; Working Group 1 Co-Chair Alejandro Silva, Ministry of Agriculture, Lifestock and Fisheries, Argentina; Hans Hoogeveen, Director General, Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation; Chair Henk Bleker, Minister for Agriculture and Foreign Trade, the Netherlands; and Working Group 2 Co-Chair Yemi Akinbamijo, African Union Commission
Working Group 1 Co-Chair Jamshed Merchant, Agriculture and Agri-Food, Canada
Working Group 1 Co-Chair Alejandro Silva, Ministry of Agriculture, Lifestock and Fisheries, Argentina
Working Group 2 Co-Chair Yemi Akinbamijo, African Union Commission
Chair Henk Bleker, Minister for Agriculture and Foreign Trade, the Netherlands
Ignacio Rivera Rodriguez, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food, Mexico
Delegates during the closing session
The conference ended with a laser show.

Group photo at the end of the conference.
Your IISD team. L-R: Back row: Diego Noguera, Colombia; Simon Wolf, Germany; and Nancy Williams, United States of America. Front row: Tomilola Akanle, Nigeria; Laura Russo, Italy; and Tasha Goldberg, United States of America.
Daily web coverage (click on the following links to see our daily web pages)
Related Links
Conference resources
*Conference website
*Conference programme
*Conference papers
*Conference side events

IISD RS resources
*IISD RS summary report of the Agriculture and Rural Development Day 2009, 12 December 2009, Copenhagen, Denmark (HTML - PDF)
*IISD RS coverage of the World Summit on Food Security, 16-18 November 2009, UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Headquarters, Rome, Italy
*IISD RS coverage of the Twelfth Regular Session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA-12), 19-23 October 2009, FAO Headquarters, Rome, Italy
*IISD RS coverage of the Third Session of the Governing Body (GB 3) of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, 1-5 June 2009, Tunis, Tunisia
*IISD RS briefing note of the High-Level Meeting on African Agriculture in the 21st Century, 9-10 February 2009, Windhoek, Namibia (HTML - PDF)
*IISD RS archive of meetings on climate change, and backgrounder
*Climate-L - A mailing list for news on climate change policy

*Linkages Update - Bi-weekly international environment and sustainable development news
*MEA Bulletin - Newsletter on key MEAs and their secretariats
*Climate-L.org - News and information on the actions of international organizations in responding to the problem of global climate change
*African Regional Coverage
*Latin America and Caribbean Regional Coverage
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