Rio+20 succeeded in providing a major boost to sustainable development. It has breathed new life into the development sphere and captured the imagination of many governments and other stakeholders. Sustainable development is now emerging as the overarching paradigm of the UN’s post 2015 global development agenda with a process agreed in Rio now underway to define a set of sustainable development goals (SDGs) to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Rio+20 provided IFOAM with an opportunity to position organic agriculture as a multi-functional tool for inclusive sustainable development and the organic movement as a global force for creating a better future. IFOAM was able to demonstrate how consumers and farmers are coming together to establish their own food systems that enable new local markets to be built, that share risk, that create new jobs and livelihoods, that make fresh, non-toxic, nutritious and affordable food widely available to people where they live. It was able to show that the organic alternative is already flourishing in the many diverse ways that people are sustainably producing, distributing, marketing and consuming organic produce.
In Rio the Green Economy concept was one of the main overarching themes and was positioned in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication. The international organic movement has pioneered the Green Economy through the development of markets for sustainable products that protect ecosystems and enhance lives. Organic agriculture is held-up in UNEP’s influential Green Economy Report as an example of how economic growth can be de-coupled from resource use. Support of organic agriculture is one of five UNEP recommendations for transforming the global economy.
Fourteen of 24 thematic priorities for sustainable development set out in the Rio+20 outcome agreement ‘The Future We Want’ have direct relevance to organic agriculture; Poverty Eradication, Food security and nutrition and sustainable agriculture, Water, Health, Least developed countries, Landlocked developing countries, Africa, Disaster risk reduction, Climate change, Biodiversity, Desertification, land degradation and drought, Mountains, Chemicals and waste and, Sustainable consumption and production.
The renewed global awareness and interest in sustainable development and the leadership of agencies such as UNEP has created important policy space and opportunities for organic agriculture. IFOAM’s sustainable development campaign is focused on building the advocacy alliances and developing the means of implementation required to effectively respond to these opportunities and ensuring organic agriculture is part of the SDG process.