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In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, journalist Zofeen
Ebrahim (right) interviews a source at the
UN summit on sustainable development.
By Katie Taft

Among a sea of more than 3,000 journalists clacking away at keyboards in the media centre at the Rio+20 conference, Zofeen Ebrahim desperately searched for an adapter for her computer. Having arrived in Rio de Janeiro just 12 hours earlier, Ebrahim bubbled with nervous energy, or perhaps jetlag.

“I need to get something to eat and then I want to find a woman leader who was here 20 years ago,” she said as she struggled to plug in the adapter loaned to her by a fellow journalist.

A mother of two from Pakistan, Ebrahim was in Rio last week to cover the conference along with 16 other journalists from developing countries around the world. Their trip was part of an IFAD-supported training programme presented by the Thomson Reuters Foundation (TRF) and IPS International News Agency.

“When I left Pakistan to come here, my country had a prime minister,” Ebrahim said between mouthfuls of pizza in the canteen of the conference venue. “When I landed in Rio, my country no longer had a prime minister.” Just the day before, Pakistan’s Supreme Court had removed Yousuf Raza Gilani, the country’s longest-serving prime minister, from office.

I asked Ebrahim if she felt that she was missing the year’s best news story in her own country by coming to Rio. She immediately shook her head and said she did not. The Rio summit on sustainable development “is important for Pakistan,” she added. “It is a story that needs attention, too.”

Best practices for journalists
Ebrahim and other journalists from developing countries face multiple challenges that go well beyond the annoyance of overcoming jetlag or finding a local adapter. One of the biggest is a lack of access to experts when covering highly technical topics. This is where TRF and IPS step in, with training that focuses on best practices to help the journalists increase the quality of their stories on issues related to climate change.

No one knows the struggles of reporting on climate change more than Bassem Abo Alabass, a 24-year-old journalist from Egypt. In his brief career, Abo Alabass has already seen the inside of a prison cell for two days after taking to the streets in Cairo, not as a journalist but as “one of the people.”

He is not surprised when I tell him that he is the only registered journalist from Egypt attending the Rio+20 conference.

Abo Alabass recently wrote a piece, for the news website Ahram Online, about a scientific report on the decreasing water level of the Nile. Because it was online, he was able to track how many readers followed the story. “Very few people read it,” he said. “People in Egypt have only one thing on their minds. Making climate change a story that they can connect to right now is hard.”

Two days after we spoke in Rio, Abo Alabass returned to Egypt and came home to a new president-elect, Mohammed Mursi. Eighteen months after street protests forced Hosni Mubarak to quit, Mursi had become the country’s first democratically elected civilian president.

Tough job, important story
When you are faced with revolutions on your doorstep, it is difficult to write a story on sustainable development that will interest readers, IPS trainer Miren Gutiérrez told me during a pause in the journalists’ workshop in Rio. Couple that with the fact that they were competing with those 3,000 other journalists for interviews at the Rio+20 conference, and an already tough job just got tougher.

But for Zofeen Ebrahim, it was worth the trouble. “I am glad I came here,” she said, running to do an interview on the last day of the conference. “This is just too important, not just for people in Pakistan, but for everyone.”

Read one of Ebrahim’s stories filed from Rio here and another here.

Reflections on Rio +20, so far

Posted by Sarah Hessel Saturday, June 23, 2012 0 comments

by Elwyn Grainger-Jones

Well, it's midway through Rio +20.  I've been going from event to event, location to location, speaking at some on the subject of sustainable smallholder agriculture, and absorbing the atmosphere.  Don't think that the Rio delegates are on the beach - this was pretty empty when I drove past it yesterday!  Most delegates are spread out across hundreds of side events, with a smaller group in the actual text negotiations.  And at any one time, a lot of them are stuck in traffic shuttling between locations, where they can at least enjoy the views of this beautiful city.

What is most fascinating at these big conferences is to dip into different communities, it's sort of a human zoo with (and apologies for any stereotyping) so many different group cultures.  So far I have spoken at a film launch, surrounded by young and articulate Brazilian journalists keen to talk about how to connect with people through human stories; at a corporate sustainability event on climate risk management, surrounded by smart, focused business people excited about the number of possible connections to help at the same time both smallholder farmers and their own businesses; at a civil society-organized event, with young and old environmentalists deeply frustrated at the lack of action from national and global leaders on this issue and concerned about corporate power and 'land grabbing'; and at an agriculture event, surrounded by technical experts who after years of piloting sustainable agriculture techniques are searching for ways to 'scale up' the use of these approaches with the urgency required.

What have I learnt so far?  Well, there's a lot of soul-searching going on behind the scenes here.  Yes, there has been progress on poverty reduction, but on the environment - let's face it - we are losing.   It's not that there is no cause for hope - Rio is full of wonderful examples of humanity finding ways to live sustainably.  There has also been tremendous progress in developing knowledge and tools to tackle environmental problems since the original Rio conference, including (at last) more serious talk about redefining how we measure growth to include the stock of natural assets.  It's just that the pace of environmental degradation - including climate change - is exceeding the pace at which these examples, approaches and tools are being scaled up.  The statistics on what's been happening since the original Rio conference in 1992 bear this out.

I'd like to see more psychologists here.  I'm only half-joking.  There are so many technical experts in Rio who can earnestly share frightening graphs (I have some good ones myself) to make a rational case for action.   But this is not enough.  As someone put it at an IIED event -  environmentalists have used science, then security and now economics to make the case for action, but this is not getting through fast enough.  Why is this?  The main explanations being given are the inertia of "mindsets" which are changing more slowly than the world around us, responsibility for failure (and success) being spread too thinly, and all this leading to politicians generally not being pressured to take bold action.  Civil society is here, but this in no way feels like a coherent and unified mass-movement creating pressure across the globe.   More fundamental questions around whether or how the values of modern consumer economies can be made compatible with environmental sustainability are generally put in the "too difficult" or "too radical" box.

I think, as always, this comes down to the age-old struggle between different aspects of human nature:  we can be far-sighted, visionary, cooperative even across nations, and expansive in our thinking; but, especially in times of anxiety, we can be short term, selfish, non-cooperative and narrow in our thinking.  Short-term thinking defies action on climate change.  A deeply competitive environment and a lack of trust is challenging our ability to cooperate across nations on these global issues.  Narrow thinking, understandable given the mind-boggling complexity of human interaction with ecosystems, lies behind the "silo thinking" within governments and internationally on public policy where issues are pursued in isolation of each other to the detriment of all - e.g. between the environment, development, finance, people or agriculture (where, for example, there are too many examples of agricultural production being boosted at the expense of ecosystems).

And how should we communicate this conference to the world?  It's too early to conclude on the conference since we don't yet know what the outcome will be.  In terms of communicating environment issues more generally, most of us working on these issues are torn between giving a message of fear or hope, so we oscillate between the two.   We can at least learn from the mistakes of the past and move on from communicating the environment purely in terms of trade-offs (e.g. "you can either protect nature or feed your people" - a false trade-off in fact), and perhaps make clearer the equity and justice aspects of what is happening on the environment.

So fingers crossed for the next few days - given what's at stake, I hope world leaders rise to the challenge.

Conveying silent voices of smallholders at #rioplus20

Posted by Jeffrey A Brez Thursday, June 21, 2012 0 comments

by Clarissa Baldin

On the evening of 18 June, just prior to the official opening of #RioPlus20, TVE  launched its Zero Ten Twenty and Life Apps series movies to a select audience at the headquarters’ of Brazilian TV channel Canal Futura in Rio de Janeiro.

IFAD was represented by Elwyn Grainger-Jones, Director, Environment and Climate Division, who spoke on the importance of listening to the voices the rural poor. Despite supplying up to 80 per cent of the food consumed in a large part of the developing world, with much of that produced by women, smallholder households are often forgotten, as if their voices were silent. Elwyn reiterated IFAD’s 35 year old commitment to change this reality. Communicating how vulnerable smallholders are to health and nutrition challenges and their importance to the global food and agricultural system is part of IFAD’s strategy to raise awareness and mobilize resources to support poor rural women and men.

As managers of vast areas of land and natural resources, smallholders are both victims and drivers of environmental degradation, and need support to scale up sustainable practices.

The Zero Ten Twenty series followed 10 children around the globe from their birth in 1992, the first Rio Earth Summit, to 2012.  These children who grew up in different parts of the globe, during the fastest changing century of human history, share with us their hopes. Joining them on their journey, we find out that while much has improved for Kay Kay in China, there is still a long way to go for Rosamaria in Brazil.

The Life Apps series challenged a team of young computer programmers in India, Kenya, Brazil and other countries to develop a phone application that meets the needs of the poor and helps them to improve their lives.

Both series are part of Reframing Rio, a multimedia project designed by tve, IPS and IIED to enhance global awareness and mobilize efforts towards the urgent need of a sustainable world. You can watch these episodes and find out more at the Reframing Rio website.

Read more on IFAD’s support to Reframing Rio here.

Joint Opinion Article by the Heads of FAO, IFAD, WFP and Bioversity José Graziano da Silva, Director General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO; Kanayo F. Nwanze, President, International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD; Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director, World Food Programme, WFP and Emile A. Frison, Bioversity International

They struggle to make crops grow in the parched earth. They watch in despair as their seedlings and livestock are washed away by flash floods. They stand quietly in the markets and watch others buy food that has become too expensive for them to afford.
Who are they? They are the hundreds of millions of people who strive – and often fail – to get enough nutritious food each day to lead a healthy life. Hunger is the world’s greatest solvable problem. And solving it is the basis for sustainable development.

It’s a tragic irony that many of them could have better access to food, but don’t. They are smallholder farmers who barely manage to grow enough to feed their families, they are the landless and they are poor urban dwellers that live in communities where plenty of food is available. Their children are often malnourished, facing chronic illness, stunted physical and cognitive growth and reduced life expectancy.
Their experience proves a central truth that must be accepted by all participants in Rio+20, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development: There can be no sustainable development if billions live in poverty and hunger.

The theme of Rio+20 is “The Future We Want.” For many of the 1.3 billion people who live in extreme poverty, the future they want could be within their grasp. But this can only be achieved if governments and their citizens, civil society and the private sector, accept that it is the right of every person to be free from hunger, and are willing to act to make this happen. To do this we need to improve people’s access to food in their communities, increase production by 60 per cent by 2050, drastically reduce huge losses and waste of food and manage our natural resources sustainably, so that it flourishes for future generations.

The people who work on the world’s 500 million small farms are the drivers of rural economies and the custodians of a much of our natural resources and agricultural biodiversity. They have enormous potential as entrepreneurs, but lack the means needed to build their businesses, and their own food security and that of others.

When people have access to nutritious food and when they can support themselves and their families, the wider community feels the impact. Productivity increases, incomes rise and access to healthcare and education improves.

Rio+20 is a chance to rise to the challenge. We need to work together to implement policy reforms, create the incentives, invest in research and innovation, build human capacity and expand market opportunities for farmers and their families and small agribusinesses. We need to reform our food production and consumption systems using scarce resources more responsibly. Unless we sustainably manage land, water, fisheries, forests and biodiversity, we cannot achieve long-term agricultural growth.

Sustainable solutions must also be equitable solutions. A large number of smallholder farmers are women. For lasting development in agriculture and food security, women must have the same access as men to resources and the same participation in community decision-making.

Long-term improvement in the lives of millions of people depends on supporting their resilience through climate-smart agriculture and safety net programmes that strengthen their ability to withstand and recover from shocks like extreme weather, market downturns and food price spikes. It also depends on agriculture that provides more diverse foods for healthy diets and on using what we have more wisely by reducing losses and waste in the food supply chain.

As world leaders meet in Rio, we are at a crossroads. In one direction is the path to further environmental degradation and human suffering; in the other direction lies the future we all want. The Rio summit offers a historic opportunity we cannot afford to miss. Achieving healthier food for all and healthier ecosystems can be done. We know how to end hunger and manage the earth’s resources in a more sustainable way. But we need a stronger political will to do it.

We should look to Rio+20 as the beginning of a new process and not the end. The target date for the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is within sight. And we must redouble our efforts to meet those goals. Rio must be our stepping stone from the MDGs and their target date of 2015 to a new set of goals. This is our opportunity and we must seize it while we can.

The room is humming and buzzing with enthusiastic discussions and exchanges of viewpoints between the hundred participants that have come from thirteen countries in Eastern and Southern Africa for this week’s KM&L ‘sharing and learning event’ in Nairobi.

Open Space - sharing of experiences

We are at the end of the second day of the workshop and it is evident that a lot of learning has been going on ‘out there’, back in the project and country programmes. The participants are eager to share and learn from the varied experiences presented.

From the afternoon’s “Open Space” session where interesting experiences (from “Household mentoring”, to the “Usefulness of E-libraries”, to discussions on “how to de-mystify the “KM&L monster”, plus a lot of other interesting experiences) are presented and discussed, we have Valentina Sauve from the Learning Routes Programme in East and Southern Africa – ROUTESA, presenting “Learning Routes: A Knowledge Management and Capacity Building Tool for Rural Development”:


Valentina Sauve: “We do Knowledge Management in practise”......!

Valentina continues: “The Learning Route is really just a very practical and down to earth tool for knowledge sharing and capacity building that combines local knowledge, innovation and good practices from the field with a pedagogical strategy. The aim is to build a knowledge management ‘device’ to impact the users’ practices and performances within their associations and home territories. The Learning Route has proven to be a powerful method for fostering capacity building through peer-to-peer sharing of knowledge, experiences and good practices”.

Measuring Smallholder Resilience #Rioplus20

Posted by Jeffrey A Brez Wednesday, June 20, 2012 1 comments

by Esther Penunia, Elwyn Grainger-Jones and Jeffrey A. Brez

On 18 June, at the Agriculture and Rural Development Day (ARDD) event in Rio de Janeiro, IFAD, ICRAF, EcoAgriculture Partners and the Asian Farmers Association (AFA) joined forces to discuss how to measure resilience to climate change and sustainable agriculture for smallholders in developing countries [for more info, see learning event no. 12].

Elwyn Grainger-Jones, IFAD’s Environment and Climate Director, presented the results measurement framework of the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP).  Take a look at the table on page 4 of the full document and then read Elwyn’s reflections on the discussion, and detailed recommendations from  Esther Penunia, Secretary General of AFA for measuring success.


“We had a great discussion. The main thing I learnt was that there are big gaps in measuring the impacts of climate adaptation - or 'climate resilience'- projects on people. Impact measures on poverty and nutrition are fairly well developed, although sometimes not collected with a view to measuring resilience to shocks.  Technologies and techniques for measuring the bio-physical aspects (e.g. through remote sensing) are being rapidly developed, but are still too often missing from M&E systems - project information often does not tell us whether poverty has been reduced at the expense of, rather than by building up, the natural environment.  Finally, indicators on the adaptive capacity of institutions and governance systems are difficult to frame in any kind of quantitative way, and yet this is one of the most important areas for climate adaptation.  We need to work together to build up knowledge on all of this, and then integrate it into wider project investment or policy impact systems so that adaptation or resilience is not kept apart as a stand-alone issue.”  


“Thanks to IFAD for giving us the opportunity to present the perspectives of family farmers in Asia. We are happy to know that IFAD has this new ASAP program to channel climate finance to smallholder farmers, aimed to scale up and integrate climate change adaptation in its regular smallholder development programs. It is a clear response to the call of smallholder family farmer groups to help us upscale and mainstream sustainable, agro-ecological family farming systems. It is a clear recognition that sustainable, agro-ecological organic approaches by smallholders/family farmers are the imperatives to address the interrelated issues of poverty, hunger and climate change. It also a clear recognition of women's significant role in sustainable farming. 

We appreciate the ASAP framework as we find it comprehensive. We would like to make three major comments on this. 

1. We recommend that in ASAP outcomea, we include indicators related to access and control of productive resources (land, water, forests, seeds) by poor smallholders. Even before we can talk of increased land management, of sustainable agriculture, we need security of tenure so that we can decide what to plant, how to plant, what seeds to use. Clear indicators for significant increase of women having rights to farmlands are critical. 

2. We recommend indicators related to increase in biodiversity:  increase in the number of family farmers practicing integrated, diversified, agro-ecological approaches; increase by which smallholders are able to diversify their crops and the seeds they use. We need to encourage a wider genetic base in agriculture - trees, fruits, grains, vegetables, animals --- for nutrition, pest control and resilience to climate change. If we do not include these indicators, we are afraid that we will be promoting still monoculture --- planting of just one crop but drought or flood resilient. We fear that we will just promote GMO seeds -- which may be drought or flood or pest resilient --but which is outside the control and culture of farmers. 

3. We appreciate also the indicators on forming or strengthening community groups. we would like indicators that show that these groups are able to interact, share lessons with one another, craft advocacy and extension strategies together and engage their governments. These community groups should be able to have increased participation in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of climate adaptation projects, not only of IFAD, but also of national and local governments. 

This leads me to the final point. What can be the role of regional / international farmers' organizations, especially those involved in the farmers' forum, like AFA, in ASAP.  We can:

  • facilitate link between IFAD and ASAP and FOs in pilot countries;  
  • raise smallholder awareness; 
  • mobilize their participation through in country consultations with government and other stakeholders; 
  • gather feedback from the field through our members and drawing up recommendations based on field experiences; 
  • perform as third party monitors of ASAP; 
  • knowledge sharing session among project recipients of ASAP;  
  • assist in documentation, dissemination and popularization of natural resource-based traditional knowledge and farmer generated innovation."

Me (Jeff)

I can’t resist adding here that Esther’s recommendations will be extremely helpful for us as we define our knowledge and learning activities.  Check out the ASAP Knowledge and Learning Concept.  There will be more to come!

A regional Knowledge Management and Learning (KM&L) Workshop is being held this week in Nairobi, Kenya, for staff from IFAD-supported projects and country offices in East and Southern Africa (ESA).

The workshop is hosted by IFADAfrica, ESA’s regional knowledge network. It represents the culmination of the regional KM&L initiative implemented by IFADAfrica over the past three years, in which 125 project staff from 32 projects in 12 countries, CPMs and Country Office staff, as well as a more limited number of staff from government departments and partner organizations, have participated.

The participants have during their participation in the initiative been working on how to operationalize effective knowledge management and learning in their projects and anchor it in the country programmes. Many projects also received coaching on KM&L.

This week the participants share their experiences since the initiative started in 2009.

The expected outputs of the KM&L 'sharing & learning event' are:
  • Enhanced sharing of ways in which KM&L has been implemented;
  • Further development and sharing of effective KM&L tools;
  • A more structured and linked system for sharing and joint learning in the region;
  • Documentation of good practices and impact achieved in the field;
  • Analysis of ‘next steps’ and development of KM&L workplans by the participating country teams 
During the first day of the workshop the participating projects shared numerous lessons and insights about how KM&L has contributed to more effective project management and implementation processes. They shared the challenges they faced and how they had tried to overcome these challenges to operationalize KM&L in their projects and country programmes. A common feature that came out from most teams was that it is the continuous improvement process that KM&L fosters that is the key in KM&L as it helps to reflect, share and learn, and then change and adapt implementation processes for projects to become more effective and successful.

Country presentation - Tanzania Team
Discussing experiences and challenges

Statement on Rio +20 from Bioversity International, FAO, IFAD and WFP

We stand at a crossroads: it lies within our reach to eliminate hunger and poverty, using methods that do not compromise the future of life on this planet. That is the essence of sustainability. It will require not just universal acceptance of the right of every person to be free from hunger, but also profound changes in the way we produce and consume food and manage the earth's resources. 

Rio+20 gives us a golden opportunity to bring together the agendas of food security and sustainable development to build the future we want. Increasingly, we know how to eliminate hunger and poverty in ways that also promote sound management of natural resources, encourage social inclusion and drive economic growth.

There are 1.3 billion people living in extreme poverty, and close to 900 million chronically undernourished. An additional 1 billion suffer from “hidden hunger”, a lack of vitamins and minerals. Undernourishment in children prevents them from ever reaching their full physical and cognitive potential, costing lives, livelihoods and economic growth. We must all understand that the Rio vision of sustainable development cannot be achieved as long as hunger and extreme poverty persist.

We can and we must help poor people worldwide access the food they need, and we must support their efforts to escape the poverty trap for good. But the world's ecosystems and biodiversity are already under extreme pressure from overexploitation, degradation and the effects of climate change. We now face the challenge of raising global food production by 60 per cent by 2050 while managing the natural resource base so that we are not robbing future generations.

It can be done. We can reach our goal of eliminating hunger while promoting sustainable food production. We know what the right tools and policies are. What we need most are the governance systems and institutions that promote accountability and ensure that the right tools and policies are scaled up and applied.

Rio+20 must demonstrate the political will to improve governance, reform policy and, above all, take action.  All our efforts toward "sustainable development" will be in vain if we cannot feed humanity and also safeguard the resources upon which life depends.

This is a shared challenge, involving actions that must be undertaken by government, the private sector and civil society, and producers and consumers of food. It is everyone’s responsibility. We must unlock the power of partnerships, working across sectors and tearing down barriers that have sometimes made development efforts uncoordinated and inefficient. The principles of inclusiveness, equity, gender equality and a rights-based approach must be upheld both in the consultative process and the actions undertaken. We can also build upon existing institutions such as the inclusive Committee on World Food Security (CFS).

We must recognize that individuals and the private sector make the bulk of investments in our food systems. The people who work the world's 500 million small farms are the backbone of many rural economies, and are the largest investors in agriculture in the developing world. They are also custodians of a large part of the world's natural resources and biodiversity. They have enormous potential as entrepreneurs, but all too often lack the resources they need to thrive, feed their families and contribute to the food and nutrition security of others.

Women are drivers of change. The majority of small farmers are women.  Giving them the same access as men to assets, services and other resources could make a powerful contribution to poverty reduction and food security.  Let us not waste this potential, nor exclude their voices.

We must scale up safety nets and build resilient livelihoods and landscapes. To ensure access to adequate and nutritious food at all times, the poorest and most vulnerable people in both rural and urban areas need to be supported through research, education, assistance, and social protection programmes, or safety nets.  Disaster risk management and resilience-building need to be adopted by food-insecure countries and communities exposed to increasing land degradation and resource scarcity, changing rainfall patterns and  extreme weather events, as well as market downturns, food price spikes and other shocks.

Responsible tenure systems* are needed to secure access rights to land, fisheries and forests for poor people. Agricultural methods and technologies that work with and not against nature can help them produce more, and more sustainably. Promotion of crop diversification can ensure that agriculture produces a variety of foods suitable for health and nutrition, and also provide the necessary resilience to cope with climate change.

Action also must be taken to deal with the fact that one third of food produced globally is wasted or lost to spoilage, damage and other causes. Making the most of what we already produce and harvest would reduce the increase in production required to feed a growing population, raise the incomes and food security of poor farmers, and also minimize the impact of food production on global ecosystems.

The future we want is within our grasp. Together, the Rome-based food and agriculture agencies commit to working with international organizations, governments, research institutions, civil society and non-governmental organizations, cooperatives, small farmers’ organizations, communities and the private sector, at all levels. We must all rise together to meet this challenge.

Let us seize this historic opportunity. Let us dedicate ourselves to transforming our current unsustainable food production and consumption systems, so as to ensure access to sufficient nutritious food for all people. We must act now.

* The Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security, recently endorsed by the  CFS, outline principles and practices that governments can refer to when making laws and administering land, fisheries and forests rights.

IFAD supports poor farmers' voices at #rioplus20

Posted by Jeffrey A Brez Monday, June 18, 2012 0 comments

by Clarissa Baldin, & Jeffrey A. Brez

IFAD has provided two small grants to two groups of regional and international smallholder farmers organizations to participate in the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).
At Rio+20, the delegates from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas must agree on new solutions for how we grow, share and consume our food, and include the developing world’s 500 million small farms in those solutions.  This "once-in-a-generation" conference is an important opportunity to ensure an increased commitment to strengthen policies and scale up investments in sustainable food and agriculture systems - so that we can feed the world and protect the planet. Smallholder producers and their organisations already play a key role in maintaining and strengthening these systems at national and global levels - and they can contribute much more. They have in many cases developed small scale sustainable agriculture as an economically sound and ecological way to produce food, while reducing global greenhouse gas emissions through promoting more localized, agro-ecology based production models that are less dependent on fossil energy or that sequester carbon.
The availability of IFAD to support smallholders Farmers Organisations in Rio+20 was expressed and discussed in a special working group session of the Farmers Forum in February 2012. These grants are a direct output of these discussions.
The goal of the grants is to generate among Rio+20 stakeholders awareness of and support to successful small and medium scale sustainable food production as a major contributor to global food security, building rural economies, and sustaining the earth's biodiversity and natural resources.
The recipient of the first grant is the Associazione Italiana per l'Agricoltura Biologica (AIAB) acting on behalf of La Via Campesina, the West African Farmers Organizations Network (ROPPA) and the World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP).  The recipient of the second grant is the Brazilian Union of Farm Workers (CONTAG) acting on behalf of the family farming coalition in the MERCOSUR (COPROFAM), the Panafrican Farmers' Organization (PAFO) and the Asian Farmers' Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA).
IFAD’s grants will support complementary activities carried out by the organizations, who aim to engage small and medium scale farmers, farmworkers, the landless, fisher folk and indigenous people organizations globally and generate support in the Rio+20 negotiations for policies and proposals in favour of small holder based, sustainable agriculture and fisheries. Specific activities include:
  • Support to coordination of small and family farmers’, small producers’ and fisher folks’ contributions to Farmers Major Group, and interface with other Major Groups including Women and NGOs Major Groups;
  • Support to the Peoples Summit for an Alternative Development
  • Interactions with governments and international agencies during the “Dialogue days” (from 16 to 19 June) and the Rio+20 Conference proper (20 to 22 June) through informal meetings with country delegations and officials.
La Via Campesina, ROPPA, WFFP, COPROFAM, PAFO and AFA represent together hundreds of millions of smallholder food producers. They are founding members and active participants of the Farmers’ Forum at IFAD and are all members of its Steering Committee.  During the Rio+20 summit, representatives of organizations members of these three networks from Africa, Asia and the Americas will defend their proposals for sustainable solutions to the current crisis.
Find out more about IFAD and Rio + 20.

Some people say that professional publishing is like keeping a house clean. When you do it all perfectly, nobody notices. Everything is as it should be. But when you make one little mistake, overlook some dust on a high shelf or forget to polish grubby fingerprints off the full-length mirror, everybody spots it.
AR2011 cover photo: the bus to market in Molondo, Mali  ©Amadou Keita

Pulling together IFAD’s Annual Report is a bit like cleaning a many-roomed mansion and getting it smart enough for viewing. The task is complicated by the fact that the rooms are inhabited by many different kinds of people, with their own furniture, habits and styles. Also, the mansion has some similarities to Hogwarts in the Harry Potter books. As Percy Weasley says in one of the films, “Keep an eye on the staircases – they like to change”.

Just under 40 focal points worked on the 2011 IFAD Annual Report and many of them, like me, have done so for many years. Maybe they too have the same visceral response to the phrase “It’s that time of year again”.

As AR coordinator, my job is to help the focal points and the divisions they represent make the most of their rooms in the mansion – to explain why their work is important and to spotlight their results. We take their texts and information, trim and polish a little, and bring them all together in a coherent whole.

Unlike Harry Potter and his friends, we don’t wave any magic wands to get the job done. Instead we use hard work and rigorous (sometimes pedestrian) procedures to draft and redraft texts and check and recheck facts and figures. And we rely on the goodwill and cooperation of our colleagues across the organization.

Here I’d like to say a big “Thank You” to AR focal points past and present! There would be no report without you.

The Annual Report has always been about accuracy, and that’s why lots of people inside and outside the organization turn to it when they need reliable figures and information. Guaranteeing accuracy in four languages is the task of another team of people: the production manager, the copy-editor, the sub-editor, the translators, the revisers, the layout designers, the proofreaders. Not to mention some very special focal points who provide the figures in the first place and help us double and triple check them.

Come mid to late June every year, we’re ready to throw open the doors and launch the latest report. 2011 is my 8th Annual Report. It’s a whole lot neater, shorter and more readable than the 2004 edition and this year, for the first time, we’ve also done the Highlights, in just 12 pages. It’s like the floor plan, if you will, of the mansion.

But there’s always room for improvement. Please fill in our readership survey and tell us what you like and what you think we could do better.