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Earth Summit ended without targets

By Elliot Pfebve

THE just ended Earth Summit 2012 in Rio de Janeiro which is a follow up to the world Summit on Sustainable Development Johannesburg 2005 and yet again a reflection of the first crucial summit in Rio in 20 in 1992, exactly 20 years ago, has ended without once again SMART targets.

The absence of Barack Obama and David Cameron, two of the strongest men in the world gives a mockery to the UN endeavour to come up with a coherent plan of action to combat climate change,191 UN members, including 86 presidents and heads of government, another lost chance another global disaster.

Twenty years after the famous Rio de Janeiro earth summit, the world sit at a cliff edge of an ecosystem disaster, the impact of agriculture to social, economic and environmental sector tend to be immediately felt and this is because food availability entirely depend on it. The magnitude of the problem we face is summed up in the address by the teenage at the Rio Summit 2012, Brittany Trilford from New Zealand, "You have 72 hours to decide the fate of your children - my children - my children's children - and I start the clock now."

There is need for coordinated efforts by both regional and international agencies to mitigate the effects of climate change and policy formulation to effect a sustainable ecosystem. The UN must play a leading role as Karlsson M. (2005) noted, “The World Summit on Sustainable Development requested in its Johannesburg Plan of Implementation that a new collaborative mechanism between United Nations agencies, programmes and institutions be formed”.

The collaboration among agencies is important as agriculture is driven by many factors many of which give rise to transboundary Ecosystem effect. Thus energy, climate change, environmental degradation, atmospheric changes and water source availability are all a key to a sustainable agro-industry.

While agriculture is a vast industry spanning many sub-sectors such as Livestock, cereal, fisheries, bio fuel and grain production, the drivers are the same, land, water and optimum temperatures. Sustainable agricultural production requires deployment of technology to maximize outputs with minimum damage to the environment; such is the challenge to the policy makers.

As the World’s population reaches approximately 8.1 billion by 2025 UN (2006), so the demand for food grows. We call upon the International and regional agencies to implement policies that use clean technologies to meet the linear demographic change without unsustainable deforestation. The later is a sensitive issue given the fact that, developing countries, which produce the bulk of the food consumed globally still live in abject poverty.

They still use fossil fuel thereby contributing to GHG emissions and global warming. The deforestation in turn affect weather pattern and rainfall harvest. The poor nations are unable to afford high tech equipment to improve yields at the rate of population growth, as such; much of the agricultural production is through small scale holder enterprise. Unless the richer nations under the auspices of UN make provisions to fund the developing countries, the campaign efforts BBC (2005), “Make poverty history” will translate into empty slogans.

The efforts by FAO, World Bank, IFAD and GATT in providing funding for agricultural planning and implementation to government institutions must be accelerated, Agenda 21 (2004). Food security must be viewed as a global collective responsibility. Policy makers must ensure that, small scale farmers are accessible to credit to finance machinery, hybrid seeds and fertilizers to maximize agriculture production. Only when these farmers realize equity will they be able to play their part in sustainable development.

Given the above, the UN and indeed the G20 must come up with not only statement of intent but a budgetary framework to deal with CDS thematic areas that mitigates the global ecosystem challenges.

Elliot Pfebve (Unemployed Zimbabwean Climate Change Expert).