The role of agriculture should go beyond just generating food to help address global challenges such as climate change and antimicrobial resistance, the head of United Nations agriculture agency stressed today.
“Agriculture is at the very heart” of a recent series of ground-breaking international agreements, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate change, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), José Graziano da Silva told ministers, and representatives of government, private sector and civil society attending the biannual meeting of the agency’s Committee on Agriculture, according to a FAO news release
“Sustainable agriculture is paramount to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, to sustain natural resources, to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change, to achieve healthier food systems and to build resilience against crises and natural disasters,” he said.
While past developments in agriculture have led to major improvements in productivity, he continued, “progress has been uneven” and that “greater emphasis must be placed on the social and environmental dimensions of sustainability.”
The Director-General pointed to growing international recognition that agriculture can play a transformative role in addressing the impacts of climate change.
Countries are set to gather for the next Conference of States Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), informally known as ‘COP 22,’ in Morocco in November to put into motion their pledges on climate change, and FAO “stands ready to assist governments, especially of developing countries to have access to international resources that are available to finance these actions,” he said.
Mr. Graziano da Silva also noted that the “role of agriculture goes beyond generating food and income,” referring to FAO’s recent commitment at the UN General Assembly to work closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) to curb antimicrobial resistance.
“We at FAO believe that antibiotics and other antimicrobials should be used in agriculture to cure diseases and to alleviate suffering. Only under strict circumstances they could be used to prevent an imminent threat of infection,” he said.
Mr. Graziano da Silva told the Committee’s opening session today that in 2014-15, FAO supported 245 initiatives in 89 countries to promote sustainable agricultural production practices based on participatory approaches.
The Committee meets every two years to assess the current state of affairs in world agriculture and provide guidance to FAO on its program of work.