Helen Clark : Driving inclusive and green growth in agriculture through public-private collaboration platforms

Jun 18, 2012

UNDP is pleased to co-host this event with the Government of Denmark and the Global Compact.  It is a pleasure to be with my co-host the Danish Minister for Development Co-operation, Christian Friis Bach and other valuable partners for UNDP.

As suggested by the title of this event, what motivates our joint work and brings us together in Rio is agriculture’s potential to be a powerful driver of inclusive and green growth and the contribution which public-private collaboration platforms can make to that.

I am pleased to announce that UNDP is establishing a “Building Tomorrow’s Markets” initiative. It will extend the good work now underway in a number of the countries represented at this event on National Commodity Platforms, based on public-private collaboration, to more sectors and countries.

Commodity platforms: a mechanism for public-private collaboration
These National Commodity Platforms facilitate public-private collaboration¬-bringing producers, traders, and buyers of commodities within a particular sector together with representatives of national and local governments, farmer’s organizations, financial institutions, and development organizations to agree on the specific actions needed to improve sustainability, inclusiveness, and performance.

I understand that the Environment Minister from Costa Rica and colleagues from IKEA and Kraft will speak about the national commodity platforms they are involved in with UNDP in various sectors & countries. I will talk briefly about how the platforms work in practice, and emphasize the potential they represent going forward from Rio.

Through UNDP’s work to date, we see that by facilitating systematic and continuous dialogue, national commodity platforms can bring tangible benefits to all parties.
•    They enable the private sector to inform actors of new and emerging market opportunities for sustainable commodities, and to help reach agreement about the methods and innovations needed to realise those opportunities.
•    They enable governments to identify what is needed to facilitate sector-wide transitions to sustainable production, through, for example, investments in rural infrastructure and agricultural extension services, new regulations, and/or access to credit.
•    They enable small scale producers to air grievances, contribute local know-how, clarify their land rights, and improve land tenure.

These processes engage all actors in problem solving which translates into action. For example, in keeping with what was agreed through platform discussions, I understand that the Government of Costa Rica is taking steps to update its regulatory framework around the production of pineapples – helping to motivate shifts to more sustainable and responsible production. Large companies operating there, like Chiquita, Dole, and others, have stepped up efforts to support small producers to adopt sustainable practices, including through the sharing of best practices and research.

Turning agriculture into a driver of sustainable development

UNDP is neither an agriculture nor a food-specific agency, but addressing the root causes of unsustainability in agriculture requires approaches which go to the core of our mandate and expertise – integrated policy making, clarification of land tenure, institutional capacity building, and democratic governance. As the leader and manager of co-ordination for the UN development system, we are also able to play the role of facilitator, helping to bring stakeholders together to achieve set clear objectives and follow through on their commitments.

Thus UNDP is able to support governments and small producers to put what is agreed within National Commodity Platforms into practice – working to strengthen local and national governance institutions, and backing efforts to put in place needed regulatory and legal frameworks and policy reforms.

We engage in this work because we see the potential of agriculture to drive sustainable development at scale. Its impact results in part from the sheer size of the sector in so many countries.

Two-thirds of those living in extreme poverty live in rural areas, most work either as small holder farmers or as agricultural laborers . A significant proportion of these farmers and workers are women.

Agriculture is the largest single user of land on the planet, covering some 38 per cent of the Earth’s terrestrial surface . Many current agricultural practices are contributing to the environmental pressures which are threatening planetary boundaries, including that of climate change. Fifteen per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions globally are generated from agricultural production –including through biodiversity loss, and the degradation of land and freshwater .

Current approaches to food production and distribution also fail the roughly one in seven people who are chronically malnourished . To achieve zero hunger in this generation and for the next, as called for by the United Nations Secretary General, food production will need to increase significantly –while its environmental footprint shrinks.

Fortunately, the tactics and technologies needed to shift to more productive, inclusive, and sustainable approaches, exist and are being used in countries and localities around the world. To initiate a shift at the scale required, however, forward-looking leadership is needed in the public and private sector alike. Leaders must be willing to try new ways of doing business, collaborate with diverse actors, learn from experience, abandon what fails, and adopt what works. I am pleased to share the stage with such leaders and hope to work with many more of you who are here today.  

To move this work forward, UNDP is committed to learning from its experience with National Commodity Platforms and expanding this model of public-private collaboration through our “Building Tomorrow’s Markets” initiative.

The name implies that this work is driven by a conviction that tomorrow’s markets must be about more than short-term profits - they must be about what is ultimately in everyone’s interest. We can employ the power of markets to strengthen sustainability and competitiveness simultaneously - create jobs, raise incomes, and ensure company profitability – while also protecting the one planet we all have to share.

I thank the partners present on the panel for their on-going co-operation and partnership.

Going forward from Rio, we look forward to working with the governments, businesses, NGOs, and international institutions represented in the room, to take these efforts to scale – for the benefit of producers, consumers, and businesses alike, and to improve the health and prosperity of our communities and countries in this generation and for future generations.


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