ORGANIC AND SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE LINKAGES WITH THE UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT: EARTH SUMMIT IN RIO DE JANEIRO.
The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) is expected to be the largest United Nations summit ever held. Decisions made at UNCED are likely to shape the international environmental agenda well Into the 2lst century. UNCED has generated Intense Interest and activity among non-governmental organi2atlons (NGOs) worldwide, which have won an unprecedented degree of access to decisionmaking at UNCED. Due to this access the conference preparatory process is forging new alliances among NGOs that transcend special Interest and geographic boundaries.
Through the Association for Progressive Communications, much of the UNCED Preparatory Committee (Prepcom) proceedings and dialogue between NGOs active in the UNCED process have been accessible at low cost via electronic conferences. In the United States. EcoNet. a network of the Institute for Global Communications is the easiest and lowest cost means of following these dialogues.
Despite its central role In environmental degradation, agriculture does not have Its own heading on the UNCED agenda. Agriculture was Initially left off the UNCED agenda because it was not perceived as a high priority by the United Nations Environment Program CUNEP). This year NGOs worldwide and certain official delegates of UNCED have worked hard to bring sustainable agriculture Into the UNCED agenda.
In the United States advocates for sustainable agriculture have worked to bring their concerns into the UNCED process In several ways. Sustainable agriculture representatives from the U.S. attended the Netherlands Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Conference on Agriculture and Environment In April. 1991. This conference produced the “Den-Bosch Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development” with the goal of Incorporating the principles of sustainable agriculture into the UNCED agenda and FAO policy.
While agricultural issues are not in the forefront of UNCED debates. UNCED is providing the impetus to help galvanize a global shift toward sustainable agriculture. Up to now U.S. organic and sustainable agriculture coalitions which joined in efforts to reform U.S. agricultural policy In the 1990 Farm Bill have not fully participated in the UNCED proceedings. The importance of involving the U.S. alternative agriculture movement In this international process cannot be underestimated.
There are efforts currently underway to build linkages between U.S. organic and sustainable agriculture groups and International agriculture NGOs sharing concerns about the role of agriculture In the environment. One such effort Is through the U.S. citizens Network Working Group on sustainable Agriculture, convened by Donna Batcho. UN Representative of the International Federation of Organic Farmers Movements (IFQAM). This working group produced a policy paper on sustainable agriculture for the alternative national report produced by the Citizens Network.
This U.S. effort is currently being expanded Into an “International Intersessional Task Group on Sustainable Agriculture” convened by Thomas Forster of the Organic Farmers Associations Council (OFAC). The Intersessional task groups are designed to promote International consensus building between NGOs in specific issue areas in advance of the final Preparatory Committee meeting in New York In March. 1992 (Prepcomm IV).
The goal of the task group on sustainable agriculture is to “deliver clear, constructive, consensus policy positions on agricultural issues for ratification in domestic (U.S.) and International UNCED related forum before, at and through Prepcom IV in New York In March, 1992”. One important opportunity to inform NGOs leading into the Prepcomm meetings will be during NGO meetings In New York from February 27 to March 1, 1992.
The group plans to expand and improve facilitation of the networks of existing sustainable and organic groups to draft policy positions for review and adoption. The group plans to work with key Southern and Northern NGOs active in promotion of sustainable agriculture and deliver positions to UNCED delegates, other environmental NGOs and the media leading up to the Earth Summit.
Information about the task group on UNCED will be available on EcoNet In the U.S. by November, 1991. Workshops on the importance of the UNCED process are planned for conferences on sustainable and organic agriculture scheduled for winter, 1992. For more Information about the task group and its work contact:
Donna Batcho, Convenor Thomas Forster, Director
Sustainable Agriculture Working Group Organic Farmers Assoc. Council
U.S. Citizens Network on UNCED Post Office Box 213
Post Office Box 739 Putney, Vermont 05346
New York. New York 10156
PROPOSAL TO LINK U.S. ORGANIC AND SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE GRASSROOTS GROUPS INTO THE INTERNATIONAL NGO DIALOGUE ON UNCED
Deliver clear, constructive, consensus policy positions on agricultural Issues for ratification In domestic (U.S.) and international UNCED related forum before, at and through the Fourth Prepcom In New York this coming March, 1992.
l. Expand and Improve facilitation of the networks of the existing sustainable and organic groups to draft policy positions for review and adoption by the groups by February, 1992 to present in New York.
2. Share development of agricultural positions with NGO
groups working on agriculture related positions such as other Intercessional and Citizens Network Task Groups, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM). the Consortium to Protect the Earth (CAPE), and southern groups.
- 3. Share policy development with key southern and eastern European sustainable and organic agriculture NGO groups Involved with agricultural Issues around UNCED.
- 4. Prepare and brief UN delegates, media and NGO representatives to UNCED Prepcomm IV on agricultural positions as they relate to the UNCED agenda and arrange for a meeting in New York on these agricultural issues.
- 5. Plan the form and the content of presentation during the June, 1992 UNCED and parallel NGO events In Rio de Janeiro.
- 6. Produce a summary pamphlet in concert with Citizens Network on the positions and the ongoing needs for Integration of organic and sustainable agriculture Issues which can be distributed to official and NGO parties related to UNCED and utilized in other policy forum by sustainable and organic agriculture NGO participants.
STRUCTURE: Facilitation of the sustainable agriculture dialogue related to UNCED will utilize the existing Sustainable Agriculture Working Group organized under Citizens Network on UNCED as well as joining with southern and other northern NGO’s In an Intesessional Task Group on Sustainable Agriculture with co-conveners from the North and South. Donna Batcho is convener of the Citizens Network Sustainable Agriculture Working Group. Thomas Forster is co-convener from the northern NGO community for the Intersessional Task Group. A southern co-convener will be sought for the Task Group as resources for Implementing this effort are secured.
1991 October- December
1. Expand and facilitate Citizens Network dialogue on ag positions In UNCED.
2. Initiate and facilitate Intersessional Task Group on Agriculture (ITG-AG).
3. Target representatives to deliver draft policy positions and press releases at five upcoming International events:
- Globescope Americas Conference in Miami (October 29-November 2)
- World Women’s Congress In Miami (November 8-12)
- IFOAM Vienna International Organic Trade Conference (November 11-13)
- East Central Europe Regional IFOAM Meeting In Prague(November 14-5)
- NGO Steering Committee Conference In Paris (December 17-20)
4. Utilize computer conferencing and rapidly disseminated print media to manage communications and consensus building.
5. Conduct high profile workshops on agricultural issues in UNCED at scheduled agricultural conferences:
- Asilomar Eco-Farm Conference (January 23-5)
Esalen UNCED, Free Trade and Sustainable Agriculture International Leadership Meeting (January 26 -proposed)
National Organic and Sustainable Agriculture Conference In Washington, D.C. (February 14-5)
Environmental conferences on NGO positions in UNCED as scheduled
6. Identify key delegates and NGO participants. Brief them with agricultural positions and hold a briefing session during Prepcomm in New York. Prepare for UNCED by doing the same to package and deliver the consensus positions to both officials and NGO delegates from both north and south planning to be in Brasil.
7. Complete policy paper for wide distribution