Thursday, December 5th, 2013...11:03 pm

Creating An “Open, Voluntary and Inclusive” CSA Alliance

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“Open, Voluntary and Inclusive” are three main descriptors for the new global Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance. As the 3rd Conference on Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Security and Climate Change drew to a close, the last few hours of the conference was spent developing the design of the Alliance. The main objective is to formally launch the Alliance by September 23, 2014 at the UN Secretary General’s Leadership Summit in New York.

The basic process for the CSA Alliance is outlined below:

1.     Broadening the partnership: Five regional consultative meetings will be held in the coming year to seek input from governments, private sector, civil society groups and farmers on the CSA alliance. These will take place in Asia & Pacific, Caribbean & Latin America, Africa, Near East, and Europe.

2.     Drafting the Charter: A charter will guide the workings of the Alliance. Stakeholder groups will contribute input to the charter over the next year. The core group of partners (the Netherlands, USA, South Africa and FAO) will prepare the initial draft.

3.     Development of Programming: Three action groups were established at the 3rd Global Conference. There will be an investment, knowledge and enabling environment group, which will develop a scope of work and identify priorities and early action items that support the Alliance.

The final day of the conference allowed for open discussion with conference delegates on the scope, timeline and substance of the new CSA Alliance. Overall, there was general enthusiasm and much energy with moving forward with the Alliance. There were, however, some points of concern that delegates raised, particularly around the issue of inclusion and making the process seem less top-down. These included:

–        Inclusion of farmers in the stakeholder process

–        Inclusion of women and youth specifically in the charter

–        Inclusion of urban agriculture as an important focus of CSA

–        Broadening existing partnerships

–        Incorporating the “right to food” and a more rights-based approach to the Alliance

We will add that another notable actor was little mentioned throughout much of the conference: large-scale agribusiness. While much was discussed around getting better technologies into the hands of small-scale farmers, “Big Ag” will play a crucial role in feeding 9 billion people by 2050 whether opponents of large-scale agriculture like it or not. Market access remains a major barrier for the majority of smallholder farmers, and improving distribution and supply chains will be necessary for both poverty alleviation and food security. When environmental degradation is such a key concern and output from climate change, having agribusiness at the table and providing input to the Alliance is highly recommended.

We are looking forward to seeing concrete action steps and the formal launch of the Alliance next year. We are grateful to the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation and CIERP at The Fletcher School to have included us in this incredible process, particularly when agriculture, climate change and food security will be cornerstones of shifting development needs in the decades to come.

Submitted by: Julia Leis, Tameisha Henry, Tori Okner, Greg Sixt and Easwaran Narassimhan

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