Biovision President, Hans Herren, Gets to the Roots of Sustainable Agriculture at Rio+20

By Seyyada A Burney

Nourishing the Planet is traveling to Rio de Janeiro to emphasize agricultural solutions as key to sustainable development at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development. Each day over the next few weeks, we will feature a blog highlighting special events or topics of discussion at the conference.

Soils are the key to sustainable economic, social, and ecological development. (Photo credit: R. Mirza)

The world’s food and agricultural system is fraught with problems such as toxic pesticide use and poor resource management that jeopardize its ability to support a population of 9 billion in 2050. World Food Prize Laureate and President of the Biovision Foundation for Ecological Development, Hans Herren will address some of the root causes of food insecurity and poverty in two panel discussions on sustainable food and agriculture at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference for Sustainable Development. On June 17th, ‘From Production to Consumption – Towards a Sustainable Food System’ will address how achieving food security and nutrition for all requires development and implementation of more sustainable practices at all stages of the food system – production, distribution, and consumption. The event will involve a screening of Jan van den Berg’s film, “No Fight No Victory”, about inequitable access to food and a recent initiative in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, to legalize the right to food.

On 18th June, Herren will bring his expertise in sustainable agriculture in Africa to a discussion highlighting the importance of sustainable soil management. Soils ensure food, water, and energy for current and future generations, but mismanagement and land degradation have led to extensive soil loss in many regions. Soil is also a non-renewable resource and it can take up to 500 years for one inch of topsoil to form, a rate that is far exceeded by the current pace of soil erosion. ‘Fertile Soil for our Future: Nourish our People – Nurture our Planet’ will draw attention to the crucial role soils play in water management, climate change, agriculture, and resource extraction around the world. It will also spotlight how a focus on soil management in Biovision’s BioFarm project in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, has contributed to a sustainable economic, ecological, and social development in the region.

“The main focus in Rio must be on implementing sustainable farming methods and linking science and policy more closely,” demands Herren. “This is the only way for the economy to become truly green as well as socially sustainable.”

Seyyada Burney is a research intern with Nourishing the Planet.

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