Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Nourishing People and the Planet: Time to Act

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March 28, 2012

Three important international meetings this year are likely setting sustainable agricultural development on a new course. The links between agriculture and the environment are on the global agenda.

Today, we’re writing from London, currently attending the Planet Under Pressure conference. Scientists in the global change community, focused on reducing the environmental impact of a growing global population, have come together to share their latest work in the lead up to Rio+20—the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development happening in Rio de Janeiro this June, and commemorating the pivotal Earth Summit that took place there in 1992. Food security and agriculture have been integral to the discussions. This comes after the latest climate change negotiations in Durban, South Africa, back in December 2011, where governments from around the world made progress toward including agriculture in the international climate change mitigation strategy.

With Durban, Planet under Pressure, and Rio+20 all talking about agriculture, it is clear: now is the time to act. We know that smart use of limited natural resources is good for a smallholder farmer’s bottom line. But what exactly does that mean?

Over the next year, we will be bringing you a monthly series, Nourishing People and the Planet, exploring agriculture and the environment from the perspective of the world’s smallholder farmers, and the billions of poor people who directly depend on them for their food and livelihoods.

We will be talking about the cutting-edge work, such as the integrated monitoring system for African agricultural landscapes we reported in a recent blog, and key questions at the forefront of the field around agricultural sustainability.

We’ll highlight the voices of leaders, scientists, and our partners working with small farmers in developing countries, and hear what they have to say about some of the most important innovations in this field. We hope, also, to hear from you. What are your questions and concerns when it comes to helping small farmers around the world grow more food, more effectively, while also ensuring environmental sustainability?

This is the year to make nourishing people and the planet an international priority. We hope you’ll join us every month here at Impatient Optimists for an online discussion about the issues.

 
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