With the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development underway, final talks and negotiations are nearing completion regarding the draft agreement, entitled the ‘Future we want’, which is intended to improve energy, water and food security in poorer countries, phase out fossil fuel subsidies and boost ocean protection. The conference is seen principally as an opportunity for world leaders, the private sector, NGOs and other stakeholders to come together and discuss the pressing issues and the solutions that our growing world depends on at this crucial time. The main issues that will be the focal points of the conference are how poverty can be reduced, social equity advance and environmental protection ensured. The latter is particularly important to the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) which has been dedicated to combating plant pests and diseases for more than 60 years. This problem is directly linked to other macro problems such as climate change, food security, safe trade and ensuring biodiversity and these factors all affect the outcome and impact of sustainable development.
Along with the United Nations Rome-based agencies, the IPPC welcomes the G8’s new initiative regarding the ‘New Alliance’ which is just another step in demonstrating the IPPC’s commitment to keep food security high on the global agenda. The IPPC has recently adopted a new strategic framework in which it is agreed that the issue of food security and the protection of the environment from pests are two of the Convention’s highest priorities.
Much has been done in trying to ensure these goals. José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General, Kanayo F. Nwanze, IFAD President, and Ertharin Cousin, WFP Executive Director all agree that: “We need to ensure that environmental sustainability is squarely addressed in the type of agricultural investments that are promoted, and that safety nets are in place and emergency preparedness is sustained to protect vulnerable people from the consequences of drought and other shocks.”
Pest and diseases need to start being acknowledged as one of the main “other shocks” that affect levels of productivity, food security, livelihoods and the environment for farmers all across the world.