Too late and too little

Knowledge brokering05 Nov 2010Hans Eenhoorn

‘The Conference aims to develop a roadmap with concrete actions linking agricultural-related investments, policies and measures with the transition to climate smart growth.’ This is a most valuable objective and the fact that this conference was organized, and attracted so many government delegations (most of them headed by the minister for agriculture), makes it a public relations success.

The issues discussed, and the paper (declaration?) produced, raise awareness for the urgency of solving the interrelated problems of food security and climate change, and the inevitable conclusion that agriculture is the key to the solution to these problems. Although nothing new was presented, so far so good. However, the conference will not produce anything like a useful roadmap and a serious action plan. The draft action plan presented on Thursday is just a list of ideas and most of these ideas are not new, or works in progress. A civil society group present at the conference made that clear, stating: ‘The Hague conference need not reinvent the wheel’.

A roadmap needs clear milestones, and each milestone needs a clear commitment on finance and agreement on who is responsible for the necessary action (including mandate) to achieve it. Milestones have to be defined with intervals of 6 or 12 months in order to check progress and when necessary take remedial action. Without milestones, there is no roadmap. It was, of all people, the representative of Sudan who pointed this severe shortcoming out to the conference chair.

My verdict on the conference is therefore that it was wonderful to organize it and that awareness of problems and solutions has increased, which was necessary. In this respect, the conference can be regarded as successful. However, I fear that after the conference it will be ‘business as usual’ with the great risk for our world that too little action will be taken too late.

And I pray, on behalf of 1 billion hungry people, that I am wrong.