By Romina Bevilacqua
The report, Trade and Environment Review 2013: Wake Up Before it is Too Late (Trade and Environment 2013: Wake up before it's too late) included contributions from more than 60 experts from around the world (including a comment from IATP) and contains sections that talk in depth about the shift towards more sustainable and resilient agriculture; livestock production and climate change; the importance of research and extension; the role of land use; and the role of world trade rule reform.
furtherit links global security and increased conflict with the urgent need to transform agriculture towards what is called "ecological intensification". The report concludes: "This implies a rapid and significant change from a conventional industrial production, based on monoculture and highly dependent on external inputs, towards mosaics of sustainable and regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small farmers."
The UNCTAD report identified key indicators for the necessary transformation in agriculture:
- 1. Increase in the carbon content in the soil and a better integration between agricultural and livestock production. Increased incorporation of forest agronomy and wild vegetation.
- 2. Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in livestock production.
- 3. Reduction of greenhouse gases through sustainable peatlands, and management of forests and grasslands.
- 4. Optimization of the use of organic and inorganic fertilizers, including through closed nutrient cycles in agriculture.
- 5. Reduction of waste through food chains.
- 6. Change of eating habits towards the consumption of climate-friendly foods.
- 7. Reform of the international trade regime for food and agriculture.
The IATP contribution focused on the effects of trade liberalization on agricultural systems. Trade liberalization, both in the WTO and in regional agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), would have increased volatility and business concentration in agricultural markets, while undermining the development of local agroecological systems that mostly supported to farmers.
Moreover, the report's findings are in stark contrast to the accelerating push for new free trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the United States-European Union Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which expand a highly discredited model of economic development designed primarily to strengthen the dominance of corporate and multinational companies finance in the global economy.
In 2007, another major report from the multilateral system, the International Assessment of Knowledge, Science and Technology in Agricultural Development (IAASTD), with contributions from experts from more than 100 countries (and endorsed by nearly 60 countries), came to very similar conclusions. The IAASTD report concluded that "Business as we know it is no longer an option" and that the shift towards agroecological approaches was urgent and necessary for food security and climate resilience. Unfortunately, business has continued. Perhaps this new UNCTAD report will provide the turning point for the political transformation that must take place "before it is too late".