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Expert Panel in Brussels discuss IAASTD findings
"How can we reduce hunger and poverty, improve rural livelihoods, and facilitate equitable, environmentally, socially and economically sustainable development through the generation, access to, and use of agricultural knowledge, science and technology?"
This is the key question behind the three-year collaborative effort (2005-2007) of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD). It was set up to meet the development and sustainability goals of reducing hunger and poverty; improving nutrition, health and rural livelihoods; and facilitating social and environmental sustainability. The project is a major global initiative, developed out of a consultative process involving 900 participants and 110 countries from all regions of the world.
In Brussels on July 2nd, an Expert Panel with Professor Hans Herren, Co-Chair of the IAASTD, was hosted by the Association of World Council of Churches related Development Organisations in Europe (Aprodev), the Conference of European Churches (CEC), and Protestant Church of Germany (EKD)
Under the title "Food for the Hungry: Findings from the IAASTD Report", Professor Herren outlined the findings of the IAASTD. These include the call for a fundamental rethinking of the high-tech and capital intensive agricultural development and of a reductionist science. Focusing on soil fertility, responsible water management, responsible energy use and the protection of natural resources, the report argues that combining sustainability issues and poverty reduction requires putting small farmers in the South at the centre.
The report advocates a science directly relating to the problems of the farmers in the fields and a technological progress that is "location specific". Emphasis is laid on methods of farming, i.e. the knowledge of the farmers themselves, as opposed to purchased inputs, which create dependency on unreliable market forces.
The IAASTD report critically scrutinises the liberalisation process of the past and calls for a more balanced trade system, leaving the weak a chance to survive in global competition. There is a need for revised trade rules that support instead of obstructing smallholder development.
Denzil Walton (CEL representative at the IAASTD Expert Panel meeting, 2 nd July)
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