Sustainable Food Systems Necessary in Mitigating Climate Change, Speakers Say, as Second Committee Debates Agriculture Development, Food Security

GA/EF/3460
24 October 2016
Seventy-first Session, 19th & 20th Meetings (AM & PM)

Sustainable Food Systems Necessary in Mitigating Climate Change, Speakers Say, as Second Committee Debates Agriculture Development, Food Security

14 Draft Resolutions Also Introduced including Protection of Global Climate

Nearly 800 million people around the world were undernourished and global nutrition challenges were increasingly complex, the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) heard today as it discussed agriculture development, food security and nutrition.

Shantanu Mukherjee, Chief of the Policy Analysis Branch of the Division for Sustainable Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on agriculture development, food security and nutrition (document A/71/283).  The report stated that meeting the dietary needs of future populations would require “the sustainable doubling of agriculture productivity”.

Smallholder farmers were integral to the global system, he said, noting that farmers operating two hectares of land or less managed only 12 per cent of total agricultural land but produced more than 80 per cent of the world’s food in terms of value.

The report, he said, also highlighted efforts to implement Sustainable Development Goal 2 on ensuring sustainable food systems.  Shifting to more sustainable agriculture and food systems would be increasingly necessary to strengthen resilience to the effects of climate change while ensuring food security.

Opening the discussion, Thailand’s representative, speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the challenges of ensuring food security and nutrition included prolonged weakness in global recovery, food crises, volatile food prices and the sharp decline of commodity exports.  Those challenges were intensified by the changing global environment and were characterized by population movements, rapid urbanization, climate change and limited natural resources.  She urged the international community to step up efforts to fulfil the right to food by mainstreaming food security and nutrition and promoting agriculture policies, investment plans and healthy diets.

Niger’s representative, speaking for the African Group, said the notion of “leaving no one behind” was unlikely to be achieved without placing agricultural development, food security and nutrition at the centre of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Bangladesh’s representative, speaking for the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that agriculture was the dominant sector in most of the least developed nations.  Despite huge potential, the sector faced several challenges, and least developed countries had been disproportionately affected by climate change.  It was necessary to empower women, particularly in rural areas, as well as improve the infrastructure in those locales and provide access to innovative financing.

Guyana’s delegate, speaking for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said its member States faced challenges such as persistent exogenous shocks, economic and otherwise.  With falling commodity prices, some CARICOM member States had shifted their focus away from agriculture in the past two decades, and the annual food import bill had thus increased to more than $4 billion.  That bill would increase to $8-10 billion by 2020 if efforts to address the problem did not bear fruit.  Additionally, the Caribbean was one of the most hazard-prone regions in the world, and annual natural hazards were now being exacerbated by climate change.

Iran’s representative said that eliminating food insecurity was possible, but real challenges lay ahead.  The world produced enough food to feed the global population, but more than one-third of all food produced was wasted, mostly in developed countries due to unsustainable and wasteful consumption patterns.

Also speaking were representatives of Indonesia (speaking for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and in her national capacity), Nicaragua, Philippines, India, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Peru, Jamaica, Singapore, Nepal, Iraq, Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Brazil, China, Ethiopia, Central African Republic, Namibia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Togo, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Mongolia, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, and the Holy See.  A representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization also spoke.

In addition, several draft resolutions were introduced today.  Thailand’s delegate, on behalf of the Group of 77, introduced 13 resolutions:  Oil Slick on Lebanese Shores (A/C.2/71/L.2); combating sand and dust storms (A/C.2/71/L.4); Implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (A/C.2/71/L.19); towards the sustainable development of the Caribbean Sea for present and future generations (A/C.2/71/L.6); Follow up to and implementation of the SIDS [small island developing States] Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway and the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (A/C.2/71/L.14); Disaster Risk Reduction (A/C.2/71/L.9); effective global response to address the impacts of the El Niño phenomenon (A/C.2/71/L.13); Protection of global climate for present and future generations of mankind (A/C.2/71/L.17); Implementing of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa (A/C.2/71/L.10); Convention on Biological Diversity (A/C.2/71/L.7); Report of the United Nations Environment Assembly of the United Nations Environment Programme (A/C.2/71/L.5); Harmony with Nature (A/C.2/71/L.8); and ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all (A/C.2/71/L.11).  Tajikistan also introduced one draft resolution:  International Decade for Action, “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018-2028 (A/C.2/71/L.12).

The Second Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 25 October, to discuss Item 20:  “Implementation of the outcomes of the United Nations Conferences on Human Settlements and on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development and strengthening of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).”

Introduction of Report

SHANTANU MUKHERJEE, Chief of the Policy Analysis Branch of the Division for Sustainable Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced Secretary-General’s report on agriculture development, food security and nutrition (document A/71/283).

The report examined how to sustainably increase agricultural productivity, highlighting successful initiatives underway at the national, regional and international levels, he said.  The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development incorporated the unfinished business from the Millennium Development Goal era.  Agriculture, food security and nutrition were fundamental to the 2030 Agenda as a whole.

Smallholder farmers were integral to the global system, he said, noting that farmers operating two hectares of land or less managed only 12 per cent of total agricultural land but produced more than 80 per cent of the world’s food in terms of value.  On the positive side, there had been plenty of research and innovation allowing understanding into what needed to be done and could be usefully implemented.  He highlighted the importance of overcoming the gender gap in land rights.  That divide could be reduced by strengthening women’s property rights through legal reforms, redistributive land reforms, increased representation and decision-making in formal and informal land-related institutions and developing legal literacy programmes.

The report, he said, also highlighted efforts to implement Sustainable Development Goal 2:  ensuring sustainable food systems.  Shifting to more sustainable agriculture and food systems would be increasingly necessary to strengthen resilience to the effects of climate change while ensuring food security.  Maintaining agricultural genetic diversity was also essential due to changing environmental conditions.

Another important factor was the means of implementation, and the report noted that the international financial institutions remained an important source of financing for food and agriculture.  The report considered trade, price volatility and the uses of technology.

A section on conclusions and recommendations called for increased public and private investment in sustainable agriculture; improvements in the functioning of markets and trading systems; integrated management of soil and water resources; enhancement of access for small-scale farmers; reduction of food loss and waste; social protection policies to ensure access to food security; strengthening of women’s land rights; and improving nutrition through leveraging food supply chains.

Statements

PARYSA KHUNWUTHIKORN (Thailand), speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the challenges of ensuring food security and nutrition included prolonged weakness in global recovery, food crises, volatile food prices and the sharp decline of commodity exports.  Those challenges were intensified by the changing global environment and were characterized by population movements, rapid urbanization, climate change and limited natural resources.  They adversely affected developing countries, especially agro-based economies and net food importers, posing serious threats to attaining food security.  She urged the international community to step up efforts to fulfil the right to food by mainstreaming food security and nutrition and promoting agriculture policies, investment plans and healthy diets.

Agriculture remained a key sector for developing countries, which contributed immensely to economic growth and well-being, she said.  It was vital that the international community worked towards eliminating all forms of protectionism and enhanced commitments to improve market access, reduce trade-distorting national support and eliminate export subsidies and disciplines.  Technology and innovation were also urgently needed, especially for developing countries, to sustainably increase agricultural production to meet with rising demands, improve the global supply chain and decrease food loss and waste.  She stressed the need to promote the transfer, dissemination and diffusion of environmentally sound technology to developing countries.  She also noted that the adverse impacts of climate change had undermined the ability of all countries to achieve food security and sustainable development.  Further, unsustainable agriculture and food systems, particularly food loss and waste, were major contributors to climate change, accounting for about 8 per cent of total global greenhouse gas emissions.  A systematic transformation of agricultural and food policies was urgently needed to ensure they were sustainable and compatible with the challenges imposed by climate change.

INA KRISNAMURTHI (Indonesia), speaking for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), noted that one in nine people, or about 793 million people, worldwide suffered from chronic hunger.  Food insecurity was caused by poverty and price volatility due to food production shortages.  Climate change, land and water resource degradation and the deterioration of related ecosystems were some of the main causes for the food production shortage.  Taking into account poverty and price volatility, it was vital to understand that food security required a combination of coordinated actions in various sectors.  Those included integrated actions in finance, trade, climate adaptation, agriculture, health and nutrition, infrastructure, energy and other sectors.

The ASEAN Economic Community had taken concrete steps to eradicate food insecurity, including the establishment of institutional mechanisms in the region, she said.  It had adopted a Strategic Plan from 2016 to 2025 that envisioned a competitive, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agriculture as well as forestry sector integrated with the global economy.  The Plan was based on a single market and production base contributing to food and nutrition security and prosperity.  The region had also adopted the ASEAN Integrated Food Security Framework to ensure food stability and operationalize regional food emergency relief arrangements.  The framework was established with the Strategic Plan of Action on Food Security 2015‑2020.  The framework and the Plan of Action should ensure long-term food security and nutrition and improve the livelihoods of farmers in the region.

ABDALLAH WAFY (Niger), speaking on behalf of the African Group and associating himself with the Group of 77, said the notion of “leaving no one behind” was unlikely to be achieved without placing agricultural development, food security and nutrition at the centre of the of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.  In that regard, the African Union’s Agenda 2063, as well as its 10-year plan of action, provided a strategic framework for ensuring a positive socioeconomic transformation in Africa in which agriculture and the enhancement of access for small-scale farmers — especially women, youth and indigenous peoples — was central.

Noting that a large sector of the continent’s population depended on agriculture for its income and livelihood, he said Governments were putting in place measures aimed at modernizing the sector for increased production, productivity and value addition.  Emphasizing the need to invest in agriculture, diversify food production and diets and provide quality nutrition education to consumers, he said the Sustainable Development Goals presented an ideal and a means of achieving it.  Agricultural development, the provision of food security and nutrition were critical to ending poverty, not least because people living in rural areas constituted the largest percentage of those living in extreme poverty around the world.  Finance, technology and capacity-building — as well as working towards a fair and functioning trading system — would also be critical.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), speaking for the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that agriculture was the dominant sector in most least developed nations, employing 60 per cent of the population on average, the vast majority of them smallholders.  Despite huge potential, the sector faced several challenges, and least developed countries had been disproportionately affected by climate change.  It was gratifying to see the decline of undernourishment, but in 2013-2015 there were still close to 245 million undernourished people in those countries.

The nexus among agriculture, food security, peace and migration needed a holistic approach, he continued.  Investing in food security and agricultural development would strengthen efforts to prevent conflict and achieve peace.  Building resilience and resilient crop varieties was crucial to adapting and mitigating the effects of climate change.  It was necessary to empower women, particularly in rural areas, as well improve the infrastructure in those locales and provide access to innovative financing.

PATRICIA BAJAÑA (Nicaragua), noting that almost 800 million people in the world were undernourished, said that food security and nutrition had become urgent global challenges.  The international community could only eradicate world hunger and improve nutritional standards by integrating developing countries into world markets.  Eradicating hunger not only meant producing sufficient food, but also meant supervising the market and establishing a just trading system.  Nicaragua’s national strategy of food security and nutrition aimed to ensure that people were protected against hunger and had access to sufficient, nutritional food.  Her country had adopted policies.  For example, through public institutions supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), it was promoting the exchange of experiences among fishermen on the Atlantic coast.  Nicaraguan fishermen had travelled to Mexico to learn about safe lobster fishing practices.

LOURDES ORTIZ YPARRAGUIRRE (Philippines), aligning herself with the Group of 77 and the ASEAN, stressed that the central issue of hunger must be seen not simply in terms of food supply, but through the multifocal lens of agricultural productivity and the effects of climate change on it, which had already become severe.  Her country had, over the past year, suffered one of the worst El Niño droughts in its recorded history.  Stronger international cooperation, including technology transfer and capacity-building for adapting to climate change, was therefore needed to support country-led strategies.  Increased support to smallholders, rural women, fisher folk and indigenous communities was particularly important.  The elimination of all forms of protectionism and a substantial reduction in domestic and export subsidies was needed as well.  She described her country’s food security strategy as geared towards sustainability and resilience, adding that those goals should characterize long-term international efforts as well.

ASHISH KUMAR SINHA (India), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that improving agricultural productivity while pursuing sustainable agricultural practices at an affordable cost remained important for inclusive growth and development.  India had successfully transitioned from food deficiency at the time of independence to self-sufficiency through the Green Revolution, and today the country was a major exporter.  There were growing challenges to further improve agricultural productivity, however, notably the growing demand and the need for more sustainable farming practices.  India had launched several schemes to improve the availability of credit, crop insurance and direct benefit transfer for farmers.  India was also augmenting irrigation coverage through massive investments.

Mr. NAUKIN (Russian Federation) said that his country had increased food production to feed its population and attract investment.  As a result of measures it had passed to promote the agricultural sector, the country had seen a growth in grains, wheat and other products.  It was also implementing certain programmes to adapt agriculture to weather conditions, a vital exercise at the global and national levels.  The FAO and WHO should continue to develop indicators on food and keep the international community informed about food security.  According to the WFP, the Russian Federation was providing more than two dozen States with food.  From 2010 to 2016, it was providing $55 million to support food programmes in Central Asia, the Middle East and Northern Africa.

ABDULLAH MOHAMMED A. ALGHUNAIM (Saudi Arabia) said that demographic growth, the reduction of arable land and the impact of urbanization all had a significant impact on food security, which was one of the most pressing issues of the twenty‑first century.  Saudi Arabia had created a centre for humanitarian aid and action for allowing all individuals to live in dignity.  The centre had made a contribution to 72 programmes and reached 70 million beneficiaries.  It had also assisted in the situation in Yemen.  Emergency, medical and humanitarian aid, as well as and education and food, had been contributed to Yemen, and more than 8 million people had benefited.  Saudi Arabia also reaffirmed its tireless support for FAO, and had created a committee to reduce food waste.

Mr. AL-SHEEB (Qatar), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the challenges of food security were increasing.  It was necessary to help all categories of people who were suffering from malnutrition.  Qatar emphasized the importance of sustainable agriculture, food security, and the link between those and water, poverty and climate.  It was necessary to help and encourage developing nations and countries in special situations, particularly those suffering from soil degradation and desertification.  Everyone had the right to food security, he said.  It was essential to act in all sectors, particularly in health, agriculture, education, sewage, water and more.  It was impossible to ignore the burden of malnutrition and extreme poverty, and Qatar would be an important partner for improving agriculture and achieving food security.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) said that his country’s gastronomy had recently gone through a boom, leading to the increased well-being of its citizens and awareness of the need to protect ecosystems.  That boom had shown that culture could be a catalyst for sustainable development.  He proposed that the international community establish a day for sustainable gastronomy, so that farmers, fishers and other food producers could recognize the potential of their shared responsibility to fulfil global goals like promoting sustainable agriculture, inclusive growth and sustainable production and consumption patterns.  Holding such a day was appropriate and relevant and could have an impact on implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

MOHAMMAD REZA MOHAMMADI (Iran), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that eliminating food insecurity was possible, but real challenges lay ahead.  Food security depended strongly on soil, water, energy, biodiversity, climate and economic growth, as well as consumption and production patterns and empowering women.  There had been progress in addressing undernourishment, and the world produced enough food to feed the global population, but more than one third of all food produced was wasted, mostly in developed countries due to unsustainable and wasteful consumption patterns.  Iran recognized the importance of food security and prioritized improving agricultural productivity, enhancing commercialization, improving disaster risk management and promoting the sustainable development of natural resources.

E. COURTENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica) said that his country’s low food production and high dependence on food imports had resulted in high food import costs and left it vulnerable to external economic shocks and climate change.  Periods of drought in the northern hemisphere, as well as floods in Australia and Pakistan, had caused the prices of wheat, corn and sugar to jump to new highs on the world market, which had precipitated increases in Jamaica’s food bill.  That had a knock-on effect on the cost of local chicken and domestically produced livestock, as Jamaica imported animal feed like corn, coarse grains and soybeans.  At the same time, a lack of access to nutritious food and its improper use had led to the emergence of malnutrition, namely undernourishment, micronutrient deficiency and obesity.  The diet of a majority of the population had shifted from locally grown produce, with limited foods of animal origin, to less nutritious diets consisting of more processed and energy-dense foods of increased animal origin, with more added salt, sugars and fat.  Jamaica’s food and nutrition security was also threatened by annual hurricanes, drought and floods as well as the risk of climate change.

SEEMA GAIL PARKASH (Singapore), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the ASEAN, said food security was a complex sustainable development issue.  As a small city-State that imported over 90 per cent of its food supply, Singapore was vulnerable to fluctuations in food supply and prices, as well as food safety incidences overseas.  While it was not an agricultural country, the small agricultural sectors it did have played a critical role in its security as a buffer against supply disruptions.  A modern and tech-savvy farm sector was vital to attracting a new generation of agricultural professionals who would write the next chapter in national, regional and global food security efforts.  Singapore had embraced agrotechnology — the application of modern technology and life sciences to intensive farming systems.  It would also continue to promote the development of urban farming solutions and progressive farming technologies.  The Government would continue to support farmers’ efforts through technology transfer, sharing of expertise and funding new technologies to help Singapore become more self-reliable in food production.

RUDOLPH MICHAEL TEN-POW (Guyana), speaking for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating himself with the Group of 77, said progress in agriculture and food security could provide rich synergies for the achievement of all the Sustainable Development Goals.  The Community’s member States faced challenges such as persistent exogenous shocks, economic and otherwise.  With falling commodity prices, some CARICOM member States had shifted their focus away from agriculture in the past two decades, and the annual food import bill had thus increased to more than $4 billion.  This bill would increase to $8-10 billion by 2020 if efforts to address the problem did not bear fruit.  The smaller island States saw constrained livestock production due to limited available land.

Additionally, the Caribbean was one of the most hazard-prone regions in the world, and annual natural hazards were now being exacerbated by climate change, he said.  Much of the damage done by hurricanes and droughts adversely affected the agricultural sector.  Collective action was necessary to meet global dietary needs, and it was necessary to overcome constraints, including protectionist policies on agriculture.

LOK BAHADUR POUDEL CHHETRI (Nepal), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that “we cannot imagine a happy, healthy and peaceful world without food”.  Ending hunger by ensuring food security and nutrition was the first step towards achieving the other goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda, he said, adding that Nepal’s Constitution guaranteed the right to food sovereignty.  As a landlocked least developed country vulnerable to hazards, climate change and other threats, it was working to transform the agricultural landscape with enhanced productivity and sustained growth.  Noting that his country had one of the lowest ratios of arable land per capita in the world — which made sustainable agricultural development even more critical — he underscored the importance of appropriate, affordable, sustainable and climate-resilient agricultural technology.  Also vital was the continuous upgrading of technology to facilitate the least developed and landlocked least developed countries in their efforts towards economic growth, development and prosperity.

Mr. SLAIMAN (Iraq), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that data indicated that some countries had the resources to be agriculturally independent, but Da’esh had conquered large areas and posed a danger to food security in the country.  Furthermore, agriculture was the main source of income for the Iraqi people in agricultural areas.  Terrorists had impeded the economic and social development of large areas of the country, and Iraq faced a problem of rural exodus due to Da’esh.  There had also been a decrease in the quantity and quality of water resources.  The area of arable land in Iraq had been reduced and there had been insufficient use of technology.  Salinization, desertification and overdependence on the oil sector had contributed to a catastrophic food situation.  Iraq had adopted a national development plan to increase production and rehabilitate land liberated from the control of Da’esh, but needed financial support for modern irrigation projects and other investments in the agricultural sector.

MARIAME FOFANA (Burkina Faso), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, noted that 795 million people worldwide were undernourished and that 780 million of them lived in developing countries.  That unfortunate picture was linked to colossal challenges in attempting to eliminate hunger.  It was an enormous task, and the international community had devoted an entire goal to it in the 2030 Agenda.  Hunger was to be eliminated through the promotion of sustainable agriculture, which could only be achieved by a true surge of solidarity.  Eliminating hunger, ensuring food security and promoting sustainable agriculture were at the heart of Burkina Faso’s concerns.  It was working to increase agricultural water and irrigated areas, improve agricultural resistance to risks and natural hazards, promote agricultural research and improve the prevention and management of food and nutrition crises.

ANTÓNIO GUMENDE (Mozambique), associating himself with the Group of 77, Group of Least Developed Countries and the African Group, emphasized that sustainable and strong agricultural development was a condition for achieving food security and addressing people’s nutritional needs in the context of the 2030 Agenda’s aim to end poverty and hunger.  In that regard, Sustainable Development Goal 2 must be translated into practical and results-oriented actions, including through the revitalized global partnership, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Zero Hunger Challenge, strengthened North-South and South-South cooperation and other relevant mechanisms.  Mozambique was working on the promotion of productivity in the peasant family sector, the production of strategic, traditional and emerging crops and the promotion of agricultural trade, he said, calling on partners to prioritize support for the common objectives of agricultural development, food security and nutrition, and to fulfil their relevant international commitments.

PHILIP FOX-DRUMMOND GOUGH (Brazil), associating himself with the Group of 77, said it was important to prepare for a new development paradigm that aimed to transform the way the international community produced, traded, distributed, consumed and disposed of food.  The multidimensional character of those issues was directly reflected in the universal nature of the 2030 Agenda.  The achievement of targets relating to food security, nutrition and agriculture depended directly on the implementation of all the other Sustainable Development Goals.  Brazil had significantly improved its agricultural production and food security and was continuing to engage in South-South cooperation, particularly in Africa.  Improvements in food security, however, could be hampered by the massive concession of agricultural subsidies in rich countries, which would lead to distortions in world food markets and impede the development of robust agricultural sectors in the developing world.  With its long experience addressing malnutrition, Brazil advocated that broader agricultural and rural development helped break the cycle of poverty and ensure food security.

LU YUHUI (China), associating herself with the Group of 77, said mankind could not survive without food, and the 2030 Agenda had highlighted the importance of food security.  Countries needed to boost agricultural infrastructure and promote science and technology in the sector.  Trade protectionism needed to be minimized and North-South and South-South cooperation encouraged.  China attached great importance to agricultural development and would continue to scale up investments in agriculture to enhance food production capacity.  China took active part in international efforts to eradicate poverty and had helped other developing countries in their efforts.

M. MOUKAILA YACOUBA (Niger), associating himself with the Group of 77, African Group and Group of Least Developed Countries, said the African Union had recognized food insecurity on the continent and was encouraging its members to increase investment in the agricultural sector.  At the Maputo Summit in 2003, participants had agreed to devote 10 per cent of their budgets to agriculture.  That commitment was only respected by 10 countries, including Niger.  Adding that his country had made food security a foundation of the national economy, he said it had made up 40 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) over the last 10 years.  The Government had taken actions aimed to increase production of cereals and pulses as well as the prevalence of modern farms.  It was also attempting to build the national capacity for food production and supply and develop more resilience to natural hazards.

BEZA MELIS YIRGA (Ethiopia) said his country had been implementing an integrated development strategy that put increasing agricultural production and productivity at its centre.  The Government had been allocating more than 10 per cent of the national budget to agriculture.  It had expanded agricultural extension programmes through an integrated rural development programme that included education, health and rural infrastructure.  It had also continued to ensure broader community participation, especially of small-holder farmers.  The agricultural sector had registered an annual average growth rate of 6.6 per cent over the past five years.  Crop production had increased by 10 per cent over the same period.  With major interventions like expanded veterinary services, improved breed supply and animal feed, the value addition of the livestock sector had also increased at an annual average rate of 5 per cent.

QUENTIN PAULIN YAMBA POUNGAULT (Central African Republic), associated himself with the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the African Group.  The Central African Republic was grateful for the international support it had received, including the deployment of international forces who were working for security and peacebuilding and had helped the country complete the political transition that began after the violent coup of 24 March 2013.  The crisis of 2012 and political instability put an end to the planned actions the Government had devised the previous year.  The reestablishment of cotton, coffee, and cocoa farming was now taking place with the help of development partners.  The Government had updated its strategies to integrate nutrition and the promotion of healthy eating into its food and agriculture policies, and was committed to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.

LINDA ANNE SCOTT (Namibia), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said agriculture was the backbone of her country’s economy and the employer for thousands of its people.  Although the food and security situation had improved considerably in the last two decades since independence, Namibia’s potential for agriculture was severely constrained by climatic factors like drought and floods.  Access to adequate food for the marginalized and vulnerable sectors of its population remained a constant challenge, contributing to the current, unacceptable levels of malnutrition.  The country was working to address the issues of climate resilience and food security and to eradicate poverty.  It had established a food bank and a Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, which was synchronizing traditional social welfare safety nets for the most vulnerable sectors by implementing a basic income grant.

ALOMLANGSY RAYVONG (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), associating himself with the Group of 77, ASEAN and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said 70 per cent of the work force of his country was engaged in the agricultural sector.   The Government was working to improve the management and development of available land, construct new irrigation systems, set up agricultural research and apply new farming techniques.  Apart from rice cultivation, other cash crops were also promoted.  An agricultural bank was set up to ensure access to necessary financing for small and medium-sized farmers.  To ensure food security and to mitigate the impact of climate change and natural disasters, the Government had introduced more preparedness measures and had set up a rice bank.  Nutrition was also a priority, with strategies focusing on improving information on the subject.  The health sector was involved in promoting sanitation and immunization and in providing necessary micro-nutrients to children, particularly in rural and remote areas.

HEMOU TCHONDA KOSSI (Togo), associating himself with the Group of 77, Group of Least Developed Countries and the African Group, said that ongoing hunger and malnutrition required action by the international community.  The 2030 Agenda recommended that priority be given to agricultural productivity, reducing loss and waste, adopting healthy food diets, and mitigating the effects of climate change.  Seventy per cent of Togo’s citizens practiced agriculture.  The Government was focused on food security, implementing national investment programmes to improve farmers’ incomes and living standards for the rural population.  The Government helped subsidize fertilizer and agricultural equipment and had initiated programmes for entrepreneurship and soil fertility integrated management and reforestation.

NILUKA PRABHATH KADURUGAMUWA (Sri Lanka), associating himself with the Group of 77, said movements of population, rapid urbanization and changing lifestyles, limited natural resources and climate change had posed grave challenges to food security and nutrition.  It was disheartening to note that overall progress in reducing global hunger had been highly uneven, he said, stressing that carefully crafted policies on sustainable agriculture, food security and nutrition at the national levels could contribute to alleviating the impact of those global challenges.  Recalling that ancient Sri Lankans had been among the first people to manage water resources by building complex reservoirs and canals to store and conduct water for irrigational purposes, he described a number of the country’s modern-day agricultural practices, including an expansion of its rice paddy purchasing programme.  Sri Lanka had also introduced a number of nutrition initiatives and had achieved the Millennium Development Goal of halving hunger seven years before the 2015 target.

Introduction of Draft Resolutions

THANAVON PAMARANON (Thailand) introduced 13 draft resolutions on behalf of the Group of 77.

She said that under Agenda item 19, the Group was introducing two resolutions.  “Oil Slick on Lebanese Shores” (A/C.2/71/L.2) was a roll-over from last year’s resolution which reflected the conclusions of the Secretary-General’s report (document A/71/217) on the matter.  “Combating sand and dust storms” (A/C.2/71/L.4) emphasized the role of the United Nations system in advancing international cooperation to combat sand and dust storms, and invited all relevant bodies, agencies, funds and programmes of the United Nations system, including the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, World Meteorological Organization and all other related organizations to integrate measures to that effect.

Under agenda item 19 (a), the Group introduced one resolution, she said.  “Implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development” (A/C.2/71/L.19) sought to recognize and account for the ongoing commitments and mandates being implemented towards the achievement of sustainable development as a concept.  The purpose of the resolution was not meant to detract from the primacy of the 2030 Agenda, but instead to focus on the complementary work being done, she said.

Under agenda item 19 (b), she said the Group tabled two resolutions.  “Towards the sustainable development of the Caribbean Sea for present and future generations” (A/C.2/71/L.6) was a biannual resolution that called on the international community to continue to support that important regional initiative, including through the provision of finance, technological support and capacity-building.  “Follow up to and implementation of the SIDS [small island developing State] Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway and the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States” (A/C.2/71/L.14) took stock of the progress made on the implementation of commitments made in the Samoa Pathway, and called for a mid-term review.

Under Agenda item 19 (c), she said the Group tabled two resolutions.  “Disaster Risk Reduction” (A/C.2/71/L.9) sought to ensure the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.  “Effective global response to address the impacts of the El Niño phenomenon” (A/C.2/71/L.13) noted that the 2015-2016 phenomenon was the third strongest on record and affected more than 60 million people, particularly in developing countries.  The resolution put great emphasis on the common interest of nations to transcend the humanitarian assistance approach towards a multidisciplinary and articulated development-based response.

Under Agenda item 19 (d), she said the Group tabled one resolution.  “Protection of global climate for present and future generations of mankind” (A/C.2/71/L.17) acknowledged the commitments of the historic Paris Agreement on climate change and looked forward to its implementation.

Under Agenda item 19 (e), she said the Group tabled one resolution.  “Implementing of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa” (A/C.2/71/L.10) emphasized the commitment to combating desertification in the 2030 Agenda.

Under Agenda item 19 (f), she said the Group tabled one resolution.  “Convention on Biological Diversity” (A/C.2/71/L.7) reflected the relevant recommendations in the Secretary-General’s report (document A/71/216).

Under Agenda item 19 (g), she said the Group tabled one resolution.  “Report of the United Nations Environment Assembly of the United Nations Environment Programme” (A/C.2/71/L.5) was a biennial resolution and, she said, borrowed largely from the last one adopted in 2014 (document A/RES/69/223).

Under Agenda item 19 (h), she said the Group tabled one resolution.  “Harmony with Nature” (A/C.2/71/L.8) welcomed the Agreement with Bolivia and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs to contribute to the earmarked activity related to Harmony with Nature; requested the President of the General Assembly to hold an interactive dialogue to discuss the recommendations of the expert’s summary report; and invited States to consider, as appropriate, the findings and recommendations of the reports of the Secretary-General on Harmony with Nature and the experts’ summary report.

Under Agenda item 19 (i), she said the Group tabled one resolution.  “Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all” (A/C.2/71/L.11) was strongly aligned with the 2030 Agenda, and expanded the scope of previous years to move from “promotion” to “ensuring access.”  It also supported improvement of existing mechanisms for follow-up and review by calling for specific recommendations in the Secretary-General’s report.

Statements

MAHMADAMIN MAHMADAMINOV (Tajikistan) introduced the draft resolution, “International Decade for Action, “Water for Sustainable Development, 2018-2028” (A/C.2/71/L.12).  The resolution was procedural in nature and based on previous resolutions of the Second Committee of Water for Life Decade.  It proposed to proclaim the period of 2018-2028 as the International Decade for Action “Water for sustainable development”.  He invited all States that had not already done so to join as co-sponsors and expressed hope that it would be adopted by consensus, as previous water-related resolutions had been.

INA HAGNININGTYAS KRISNAMURTHI (Indonesia) said food insecurity, in addition to poverty and lack of access to food, was caused by land scarcity due to population increase; inadequate access to financial sources, technology and information; uneven distribution of food production; climate change; and international trade distortions.  Increasing sustainable agricultural production and productivity globally should go hand-in-hand with increasing the resilience of food and agricultural production to climate change.  Increasing public and private investment in sustainable agriculture was vital, especially when it could benefit local smallholders and help promote food security, improve nutritional outcomes and reduce inequality.  Indonesia’s general policy was aimed at promoting sustainable production for key crops and livestock, stabilizing food prices and availability, increasing the quality of food and nutrition, mitigating food vulnerability and improving the welfare of food producers, especially farmers, fishermen and fish farmers.

Mr. BILAU (Ukraine) said that his country was going through one of the most difficult stages in its modern history.  The WFP had provided food parcels for the most vulnerable internally displaced people, returnees, host families and those trapped in conflict hotspots.  Despite the difficult conditions, Ukraine remained among the strongest players in the international food market.  Grain harvest for the period of 2015-2016 was assessed to make record of 63 million tons.  As the internal need was assessed at 27 million tons, the remaining 36 million tons were foreseen for export.  Despite temporary difficulties, Ukraine would fulfil all its agricultural export obligations.  One of the goals was qualitative reform of core branches in agriculture, which would create favourable conditions for implementing financial instruments and attract investments to agriculture.  Cooperation with United Nations specialized agencies remained a top priority for Ukraine.

SUKHBOLD SUKHEE (Mongolia), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that his Government had established programmes aimed at increasing the competitiveness of its food production sector, creating the opportunity to export value-added product and ensuring a supply of healthy and safe food products to the population.  The full and effective implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 2 and its targets was indispensable in order to eradicate hunger and malnutrition as well as achieve the 2030 Agenda.

AKINREMI BOLAJI (Nigeria), associating himself with the Group of 77, said agriculture and food security had been adversely affected by the global and economic crisis as well as unpredictable and extreme effects of climate change.  Although the food crisis was global, African countries were among the worst affected.  As agriculture held the key to sustainable food security, the food crisis should be seen as an opportunity to accord priority to agriculture, particularly in Africa.  He called for regional and international support to strengthen the capacity of developing countries towards enhancing the production, productivity and nutritional quality of food crops and promotion of sustainable practices in agricultural activities.  Food security and nutrition was a global challenge, and efforts to address food security challenges and the eradication of poverty must be nationally articulated and designed.

Mr. RAKHMETOV (Kazakhstan) said that uneven economic development, extensive agricultural production, social and political instability, environmental degradation and climate change were the reasons why food security remained one the most pressing global problems.  Kazakhstan’s food security policies went beyond simply increasing food production and self-sufficiency, but included expanding agricultural exports and achieving a leading role both regionally and globally in food security.  Covering an area the size of Western Europe, up to 80 per cent of Kazakhstan’s land was suitable for agriculture.  The country ranked second in the world in arable land per capita (1.5 hectares) and was among the world’s top 10 food exporters.  The new “Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran-Persian Gulf” railway would allow a five-fold increase in exports of Kazakh wheat that in the short term would significantly expand the reach of the country’s grain exports.

BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, said Pope Francis had warned in his June 2016 address to the WFP in Rome of the dangers of seeing hunger and poverty purely as statistics and slowly becoming immune to other people’s tragedies, viewing them almost as something natural and, thus, inevitable.  Poverty must be denaturalized by seeing it as a troubling reality and not as an inevitable statistic because, as the Pope stated, “poverty has a face; it has the face of a child; it has the face of a family; it has the face of people, young and old; it has the face of widespread unemployment; it has the face of forced migrations, and of empty and destroyed homes.”  The Pope had also asked to “debureaucratize” hunger.  In his 2015 address to the Second International Conference on Nutrition of the Food and Agricultural Administration, he said there was more than enough food for everyone, yet not all could eat, even as the world witnessed “waste, excessive consumption and the use of food for other purposes”.  The “bureaucratization” of hunger also found expression in the obstruction of various forms of aid and development projects by political decisions and policies, skewed ideologies and impenetrable customs’ barriers.

CARLA MUCAVI, Director of the Food and Agriculture Organization Liaison Office in New York, also speaking for the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the WFP, said the way the world grew, processed, distributed and consumed food would have a profound effect on whether it achieved the 2030 Agenda.  Nutrition-sensitive agriculture and food systems should be prioritized so that all people could access the food they needed.  There was a need to revitalize the agricultural sector, invest in rural development and ensure food security — notably in developing countries — in a sustainable manner, which would lead to rich payoffs.  The international community could reduce rural poverty and improve well-being by increasing smallholders’ income as well as empowering women, fishers, pastoralist and indigenous people.  It should also support research, innovation or improving land tenure and access to natural resources.

The beauty of agricultural development was that solving one problem could often solve a multitude of others, she said.  Sustainable agricultural development made it possible for poor family farmers to lift themselves out of poverty and improve their food security and nutrition.  It also enabled them to feed the world’s rapidly growing population and smallholders to contribute to their nation’s economic growth and development.  Climate change was already impacting food systems and vice versa.  Its effects would require sustainable and climate-compatible agriculture practices, including diversification of production.  It would also mean minimizing food losses during storage, transport and at retailers or consumers.

For information media. Not an official record.