IGW 2012 - Opening speech by Federal Minister Ilse Aigner

Federal Minister Ilse Aigner

Opening speech by Ilse Aigner, Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, at the International Green Week 2012

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In 2012, the Green Week is once again providing a grand stage. We will be welcoming high-ranking guests from across the globe.

  • It will be attended by 70 ministers, representing four billion people and every continent.
  • Thousands of companies will be presenting their products and innovations.
  • And hundreds of thousands of consumers will be there to be inspired.

The Green Week is a real crowd-puller. For policymakers, industry and society. Its drawing power is enormous. And this power has a name: our agri-food industry.

You, ladies and gentlemen, give it strength through your daily work. It is a pleasure and an honour for me to welcome you all!

1. Partner country Romania

My honoured guests Dacian Cioloş, and Valeriu Tabãrã,

You will feel at home on this grand stage. On the one hand because agriculture is the field that you are tilling with great commitment. And on the other because your homeland is playing a leading role here. It really is a home game for you at the Green Week. A very warm welcome to you both!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Romania is very much a new partner in the European Union. Romania has now been a member of our European community for five years. We are happy, my friends, that you are part of this community.

Your country has started out on a remarkable and successful journey. Dictatorship and misgovernment had hit Romania hard. But after the end of the East-West conflict, it opened up: to democracy, to a market economy - and to Europe!

I am convinced that Your country will be very well received in our community, not least for its agricultural and food products.

For it is clear that Romania not only has unique landscapes. No, Romania also has great products.

All that now separates you from these products, Ladies and Gentlemen, is me. And I promise you that I will soon get out of the way!

2. Food security - worldwide

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Green Week in Berlin stands for the strength of the agri-food sectors across and beyond national boundaries.

And people need this strength. Because the global population is growing. And as the population increases, so too will the scarcity:

  • of agricultural land,
  • of vital water supplies and, consequently,
  • the scarcity of food.

We are on the brink of a new era. If land, water and food are becoming scarce, the world must change.

The aim is to sustainably achieve maximum added value with a minimum of resources. That is the future that the Green Economy promises: efficient, socially sound and environmentally friendly.

The Green Week is a shop window showcasing the Green Economy. There are many trendsetters to be seen here. And we agriculture ministers also want to point the way ahead: with a historic summit.

On Saturday, government representatives from throughout the world will be assembling at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture.

I would like to have a close alliance "for food security through sustainable growth". We are in the middle of a fight against hunger. It will not be possible to win this battle without the agri-food sector. We will only have a chance if farmers work sustainably and productively - in all countries of the world!

To this end we also need functioning trade arrangements that follow meaningful rules: we want more transparency in respect of the causes of price fluctuations, in order to be able to combat these fluctuations effectively.

And we want clear limits so that price fluctuations on the international agricultural commodities markets do not result in even more hunger.

We want bread – and we do not want speculation that fails to put bread on the tables!

We put transparency and limits on the agenda here in Berlin a year ago. And the G20 Heads of State and Government adopted both recently. That is both confirmation and motivation for us agriculture ministers at the Green Week: we want to continue to be a motor for this movement!

Ladies and Gentlemen, for us it is a matter of course that no one needs to suffer hunger. We have enough.

But one billion people on this planet do not have enough. We must therefore try to see the bigger picture: And to this end we are aiming for a sustainable agri-food sector that achieves the maximum with scarce resources!

3. 50 Years of the Common Agricultural Policy

We in Europe know what is possible when you stand together. This year we are celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Common Agricultural Policy. This is a success story which is being continued chapter by chapter.

Established at a time when Europe had not yet recovered from a devastating war. Established as a result of the years of hunger, and in the hope of securing an adequate supply of food. And established in order to offer people a better quality of life.

At the beginning there were only six countries involved. Half a century later there are twenty-seven.

And we are delighted that we will soon be able to welcome Croatia as the 28th member. Tihomir Jakovina, my esteemed colleague, you are very welcome!

So many States are developing their agricultural policy together. This means that agricultural policy remains, as it has always been, a trailblazer for European unity and European solidarity. It has helped us to overcome borders. In the Europe of 2012, hunger is no longer a problem!

You, the farmers, are at the beginning of the value-added chain.

Many hours of hard work - day-in, day-out, in wind and weather. I believe that this work deserves recognition and respect!

Our food is characterised by its safety, quality and variety. That is a historic achievement and a reason to celebrate!

4. Charter for Agriculture and Consumers

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our farmers produce their goods for all of us sitting here. And we consumers are happy to help ourselves. At the same time, desires and new trends associated with our diet and questions concerning agricultural production methods are coming to the fore. This is why, exactly a year ago here on this very spot, I announced that we would draw up a Charter for Agriculture and Consumers.

In the run-up I invited the stakeholder groups to take part in a broad social dialogue. This was a first.

Everyone sat around one table:

  • the agricultural sector and consumers,
  • environmental organisations,
  • animal welfare groups,
  • religious leaders,
  • development aid workers,
  • food distributors and producers
  • and policy-makers.

This was, in terms of its composition and intensity, completely unprecedented.

I picked up on many suggestions that were put forward. They are part of the Charter I have presented here today. We are already in the process of putting this charter into practice. We will also have to explore new avenues in order to forge links between industry and consumers.

Here – at the world's largest meeting between agricultural and food industries and consumers - I would like to pick out three key points from the Charter.

First: Too much food in Germany ends up in the bin. This is not just a nuisance. This is, above all, a waste of valuable resources!

Ladies and Gentlemen, those of you who produce food will know that:

what's inside is

  • nature’s power,
  • a lot of energy and
  • the hard work you put into it.

But we here in Germany live in an affluent, throw-away society. Our foods are low in price. But is this a reason to throw them away?

No! We will tackle this problem in cooperation with the consumer associations and the food trade. Food belongs on our plates and not in the bin.

My esteemed guest John Dalli, you would like, on behalf of the European Commission, to reduce food waste by half by 2020. I am definitely on your side in this.

Second subject from the Charter: We must limit land take in Germany effectively!

My esteemed guest Gerd Sonnleitner, you rightly made the point that Land is, in the truest sense of the word, a breeding ground. 100 hectares of farmland are still lost every day in Germany. Land use for settlements and transport must be reduced! This is a loss we can no longer afford.

The EU Commission now suggests that 7 percent of land should be taken out of production in the future. This would be tantamount to the loss of the entire farmland in Rhineland-Palatinate!

And our farmers in Germany are already doing a great deal for the environment right now. So what I say is: Yes to more greening in Europe. But taking valuable land out of production is inconsistent with the challenges of ensuring global food security.

What we need, in fact, is smart networking between agricultural and environmental policies in the regions!

Third: Consumers want to have a choice. Last year we had a great competition: it was called “Germany’s Top National Dish”. The candidates spoke for themselves – and for their regions: Sauerbraten from the Rhineland, Pomeranian Roast Goose, and the victor, without any influence from me: Bavarian Roast Pork!

That is regional variety that can really inspire people!

One out of every two people pays attention to the origin of the food when shopping. Their main motive? 86 percent of consumers trust in the farmers from their region! This is shown by a recent survey carried out by my Ministry.

The region gives the food a unique character. You will be able to sample many specialities yourselves, both on the IGW Tour of Germany and at the other stands!

Regions have developed into real brands. I believe that this is the reward for your work, Ladies and Gentlemen!

You bring a great deal of added value to your home region. This is, after all, why regional products are heavily advertised. But we will only be able to achieve lasting success if regional products retain consumer trust.

I believe that
Whoever uses a region to advertise should also say: What region does the product come from? What ingredients are from the region? And who carries out the checks?

Transparency is my basic principle for consumers: Anyone prepared to pay more - no matter whether it is for organic food, Fairtrade, animal welfare or regional produce, must know what they are paying more for!

There is huge potential in regional food. And by that I am not just referring to our German regions. We value foods from other regions of Europe and the world just as much.

We want to get a taste of home – just as we want to get a taste of distant lands! The International Green Week shows that we are happy to go on this journey!

5. Conclusion: Opening

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Last year was remarkable in many respects. It was also the International Year of Forests.

My esteemed guests Philipp zu Guttenberg and Georg Schirmbeck, Together with many, many people we brought forests into the spotlight.

The principle of sustainability has prevailed in the forest sector for 300 years. This sustainability principle will gain in importance on a global scale. This is a recipe for success for our agricultural and forest industries. It is the future. It is an important part of the Green Economy.

If we take the Green Week as the shop window, the next 10 days will provide us with a glimpse of the agri-food industries as the Green Economy.

But we are not just observers. It is up to us to design the shop behind the window for the entire year round.

And we do just that. Out of conviction. With confidence. And with creative energy - together!

The grand stage is set - I would now like to invite my colleague Valeriu Tabãrã to come to the front:

The International Green Week 2012 is open!


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