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GFFA 2017: 9th Berlin Agriculture Ministers' Conference adopts communiqué on "Agriculture and Water - Key to Feeding the World"

Ministers commit themselves to lobby for sustainable stewardship of water

At the 9th Berlin Agriculture Ministers' Conference, 83 countries undertook to lobby for sustainable stewardship of water. At the world's largest meeting of agriculture ministers, they agreed on an ambitious GFFA final communiqué and presented it to FAO Director-General Graziano da Silva.

The Berlin Agriculture Ministers' Conference constitutes the political highlight of the GFFA. The 9th "Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) – The Berlin World Food Conference" was held in Berlin from 19 to 21 January with more than 1,500 participants from more than 100 countries. The 2017 conference focused on the topic: Agriculture and Water – Key to Feeding the World.


GFFA topic: Agriculture and Water – Key to Feeding the World

"The sustainable stewardship of water is one of the main challenges of our century," emphasised Federal Agriculture Minister Schmidt. He added: "Food security is not possible without water!"
In view of the increase in the world population, agriculture is faced with the task of producing more food with less water. For sustainable stewardship of water, all relevant players need to make their contributions and cooperate at global level. On the occasion of the Berlin Agriculture Ministers' Conference, the Minister therefore stated that he was, in cooperation with the Agriculture Ministers from nearly all corners of the globe, committed to take action to support the careful stewardship of water.


"As a key actor we need to manage water sustainably to help safeguard water quality, enhance access to education, training and know-how, strengthen the establishment of structures and reinforce the use of technologies," Mr Schmidt concluded at the end of the Agriculture Ministers' Conference. He said that the communiqué was a step towards this goal and at the same time a contribution to implementing the Unites Nations' Agenda 2030.

Sustainable use of resources: Agriculture takes on its responsibility

Being the largest user of water worldwide, agriculture has a special responsibility. The Agriculture Ministers gathered in Berlin made clear that: The agricultural sector assumes responsibility for the sustainable use of resources. As an important player, it is prepared to play an active role in the discussions on the future design of the global water management system. It is willing to use its considerable potential to help tackle water challenges.

  • The ministers identified four pivotal challenges in Berlin:
  • to reduce the risks of water scarcity;
  • to curb water pollution;
  • to manage surplus water; and
  • to ensure that agriculture has adequate access to water.

In Berlin, Federal Minister Schmidt presented the GFFA final communiqué to the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), José Graziano da Silva. In the communiqué, the participants at Agricultural Ministers' Conference call upon the FAO to communicate the GFFA at UN level as agriculture's contribution to a successful implementation of the Agenda 2030.

With the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the United Nations agreed on global sustainability goals (SDGs). The international community enshrined the sustainable use of water (SDG6) in this agenda as well as the fight against hunger (SDG2).

GFFA - The Berlin World Food Conference

The "GFFA - Berlin World Food Conference", launched in 2008 by the BMEL, takes place every year during the International Green Week. GFFA stands for "Global Forum for Food and Agriculture", an international conference that takes place annually. The political highlight of the GFFA is the Berlin Agriculture Ministers' Conference. It is the largest meeting of agriculture ministers throughout the world and it has established itself as an important international key event at the beginning of each year.

At numerous events and discussions, the GFFA offers representatives from the worlds of politics, industry, science and civil society an opportunity to share ideas and reach agreement on a different key topic of agricultural policy each year. The GFFA is organised by the BMEL in cooperation with GFFA Berlin e.V., the Senate of Berlin and Messe Berlin GmbH. It has firmly established itself as a unique and comprehensive international discussion platform.

GFFA - Impetus

The GFFA is an important key event at the beginning of each year. For instance, the core messages of the GFFA 2016 on the role of agriculture and rural areas in an era of urbanisation were integrated into the "New Urban Agenda", which was adopted at the United Nations World Summit, HABITAT III in October 2016. The meetings of the G7 and G20 Ministers of Agriculture in Japan and China in 2016 also referred to the GFFA 2016.

Since 2009 the Bilateral Trust Fund, a programme sponsored by the BMEL and the FAO, has adopted the GFFA themes in a dedicated manner and is implementing them in selected food security projects. Interested? For more information, please take a look at the brochure: "GFFA – BTF Political synergies in nternational activities".

Important impetus for the G20 Agriculture Ministers' Conference

The BMEL expects the GFFA to provide important impetus for future international work, starting with the G20 Agriculture Ministers' Conference under the German Presidency in Berlin on the following day. The aim is for the foundations established at the Berlin Agriculture Ministers' Conference to then be included in the G20 process.

The G20 Meeting of Agriculture Ministers is the first ministerial meeting under Germany's G20 Presidency of 2017. Its goals - "Safeguarding stability – Improving future viability – Assuming responsibility" - also apply to the role of agriculture. In addition to the digitisation of agriculture, the G20 Agriculture Ministers' meeting will also focus on the subject of "agriculture and water".

Background information on this year's theme

Water is life. Around 70 percent of the world's surface is covered in water. However, only around one percent of this water is freely available as freshwater and able to be used by mankind. Over the last 50 years, global water consumption has tripled. The increasing water scarcity exacerbates competition over the use of this dwindling resource; this consequently puts economic and social development at risk in the affected regions, and ultimately also political stability.

Water is, alongside soil, the most important input for agricultural production. Approximately 70 percent of the fresh water consumed is used for agricultural produce. Estimates by the UN suggest that the global demand for water in agriculture will increase, whilst - due to the fact that urban and industrial demand for water is also growing - the volume of water available for agriculture could decrease.

During the GFFA, key international players from politics, industry, science and civil society, invited by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) and its cooperation partners, used the opportunity to exchange thoughts and ideas on agriculture and water.

The goal is to successfully initiate discussions on the topic and to draw up specific recommendations for action. The agenda included ten expert panel discussions and "High Level Panels" of the European Commission and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO, as well as other events.

The final communiqué of the 9th Berlin Agriculture Ministers' Conference can be downloaded at www.bmel.de/GFFA-Kommunique_2017_EN .

FURTHER INFORMATION

As of:
07.02.17

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