REPORT FROM STOCKHOLM: 11-12 JUNE 2017
Nearly 30 Food Forever Champions and Partner Organizations gathered in Stockholm on the 11th and 12th of June to launch the Food Forever Initiative.
The Food Forever Initiative’s primary objective is to raise awareness for the importance and urgency of conserving and using agricultural biodiversity, and advocate for concrete actions and ideas to support the implementation of SDG Target 2.5:
“by 2020 maintain genetic diversity of seeds, cultivated plants, farmed and domesticated animals and their related wild species, including through soundly managed and diversified seed and plant banks at national, regional and international levels, and ensure access to and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge as internationally agreed”
Day one marked the first meeting of Champions and Partner Organizations. It was a day full of inspiring presentations on the larger context of the importance of agricultural biodiversity, followed by an exchange of ideas on Food Forever’s priorities in the time ahead. These discussions served as an opportunity to update all involved on the current status of and issues surrounding biodiversity conservation and discuss the way forward. Several compelling ideas for concrete actions and activities to be undertaken by Champions and Partner Organizations were shared.
The public launch of the Initiative was on day two at the Eat Foundation’s 4th annual EAT Stockhom Food Forum, an event attended by more than 500 delegates from 46 countries and accessed by as many as 8 million viewers on social media. Gunhild A. Stordalen, President of the EAT Foundation and Food Forever Champion said she was “proud that Food Forever has chosen EAT Stockholm Food Forum to launch this vital initiative to protect future crop diversity and food security. Biodiversity is at the heart of a sustainable food chain”.
Her Excellency Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, President of the Republic of Mauritius and Champion of the Food Forever Initiative, began our session with a keynote address on the urgency of conserving and using agricultural biodiversity. In her closing statements, she said: “If we are serious about feeding a growing world population with sufficient nutritious food in times of climate change, we have no other choice but to build on the biodiversity that nature and earlier generations have given to us.”
Following the President’s intervention, Marie Haga, Executive Director of the Crop Trust, moderated a panel discussion on the importance of safeguarding biodiversity for resilient food systems. “Producing food that is good for you, that is good for the farmers, good for the planet, is dependent on agricultural biodiversity. Not many people are aware of that,” she said.
Champions featured on the panel were: Nicolas Moreau (Head of Deutsche Asset Management), H.E. the President of the Republic of Mauritius, Alejandro Argumedo (Program Director at Asociación ANDES), and Ruben Echeverría (Director General of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture).
The champions talked about the importance of agro-biodiversity and their reasons for joining the Initiative. “I come from Peru, the land of the Incas and the potato,” said Champion Alejandro Argumedo. “My ancestors domesticated more than 120 plants. I work with indigenous communities in Cuzco, in the Potato Park, and where we safeguard around 1500 varieties of potatoes.”
“Target 2.5 is at the core of what I do. And I think this initiative can help farmers and indigenous people to keep that diversity that we have for creative sustainability and resilience”.
The full panel discussion can be found here.
In the afternoon, a ‘Competence Forum’ entitled Beyond Talk: Making Public-Private Partnerships Work for the Future of Our Food was organized under the Food Forever umbrella and as part of the Stockholm Food Forum. Discussions touched on a diverse set of topics such as the availability of different financial instruments, the importance of story-telling for crowd-funding and the complementarity of formal and informal seed systems.
The participants agreed, however, that several useful, tested models for Public-Private Partnerships in the Agricultural and Food Sector now exist and stand ready to be applied on a larger scale. The continuing challenge is to bring together the right actors and unite them around a common goal. And the Food Forever Initiative hopes to provide a common platform to accomplish this.
Food Forever remains grateful for the extremely generous support and enthusiasm we received from many of our Champions and partners during the launch events. Having so many gathered in one place proved invaluable and was a major first step in doing what we have all set out to accomplish: raising awareness for the importance of agricultural biodiversity.