15 March 2012

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Unleash Potential of Small Farmers, Food Producers, Secretary-General Urges


Round Table on Food and Nutrition Security, Sustainable Agriculture


Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message to the High-level Round Table on Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture, delivered by Janos Pasztor, Executive Secretary of the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Global Sustainability, in New York on 15 March:

I am pleased to send greetings to this High-level Round Table, taking place less than 100 days before the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

Sustainable development is one of the five priorities of my Action Agenda for the next five years, and food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture figure prominently in that plan.  Also, my High-level Panel on Global Sustainability has identified this as a key issue and calls for a twenty-first century green revolution that increases productivity, but also drastically reduces resource intensity and protects biodiversity at the same time.

Every household needs to be able to afford safe, nutritious foods.  Markets need to be open and fair.  Women and children need better nutrition to avoid the hidden disgrace of stunting, which affects nearly 200 million children.  And the poorest people need to know they can count on social protection that will not let them go hungry.  We want everyone to enjoy their right to food.

To achieve these objectives, we need to transform the way we approach food security, in particular by unleashing the potential of millions of small farmers and food producers, of whom the majority are women.  We need to encourage the production of more — and more nutritious — food while protecting natural resources, and recognize the important links between food, water and energy.  And as weather patterns become more unpredictable, agriculture needs to become more resilient and “climate-smart”.

We also need to stop wasting food along the value chain, and start reflecting the benefits of natural resources — and the costs of depleting them — when we calculate the value of food.  Only then will it be possible for Governments, farmers, businesses and consumers to choose the most sustainable options for food security.

To transform agriculture and food systems, all stakeholders should be involved in decision-making, especially women and small-scale farmers and food producers.  Sustainable agriculture and food security will be best achieved when consumers and producers, and the private and public sectors, agree on principles and build partnerships.

Food prices remain volatile, and people in all regions remain vulnerable to financial and climate shocks.  The United Nations system is committed to working for a sustainable future in which vulnerability is reduced and food and nutrition security is guaranteed for all.

I wish you a successful meeting and that your discussions will contribute to a successful outcome of the Rio+20 process.

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For information media • not an official record