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Are Super Farms the Solution to the World’s Food Insecurity Challenge? Ten Questions You Need to Ask Yourself

José Cuesta's picture
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Join me in a Twitter Chat on why global food prices remain high on Dec. 4 at 10 a.m. ET/15:00 GMT. I'll be tweeting from @worldbanklive with hashtag #foodpriceschat. Ask questions beforehand with hashtag #foodpriceschat. Looking forward to seeing you on Twitter.


Agriculture workers on a strawberry farm in Argentina. © Nahuel Berger/World Bank

Today there are 842 million who are hungry. As the global population approaches 9 billion by 2050, demand for food will keep increasing, requiring sustained improvement in agricultural productivity. Where will these productivity increases come from? For decades, small-scale family farming was widely thought to be more productive and more efficient in reducing poverty than large-scale farming. But now advocates of large-scale agriculture point to its advantages in leveraging huge investments and innovative technologies as well as its enormous export potential. Critics, however, highlight serious environmental, animal welfare, social and economic concerns, especially in the context of fragile institutions. The often outrageous conditions and devastating social impacts that “land grabs” bring about are well known, particularly in severely food-insecure countries.

So, is large-scale farming—particularly the popularly known “super farms”—the solution to food demand challenges? Or is it an obstacle? Here are the 10 key questions you need to ask yourself to better understand this issue. I have tried to address them in the latest issue of Food Price Watch.

World Bank Is Committed to Forest Communities

Rachel Kyte's picture

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Curt Carnemark/World Bank

Here at the World Bank we believe that independent internal evaluation is central to strengthening our work. Rigorous, evidence-based evaluation informs the design of global programs and enhances the development impact of partner and country efforts.

The World Bank Group’s Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) has undertaken a review of the implementation of the 2002 Forest Strategy. The strategy emphasized the positive developmental benefits of forest conservation and management, while strengthening environmental and social safeguards.

The report confirms that the World Bank’s forest work has:

  • contributed substantially to positive environmental outcomes;
  • successfully reduced deforestation when forest protected areas are designed and managed by people who live in and around them;
  • improved livelihoods, especially through support for participatory forest management initiatives, which involve and empower local communities;
  • advanced the rule of law in a sector plagued by patronage, corruption, and rent-seeking by increasing transparency and accountability and by putting environmental standards in place.

But to be most useful, an evaluation must meet a quality standard.

While we agree with some of IEG’s findings, we – and our Board - strongly disagree with others.

Progress in the Corridors at the Convention on Biological Diversity

Rachel Kyte's picture

Elephants. World Bank/Curt Carnemark

Sometimes, international convention meetings can be heart-breakingly slow-moving. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) – one of the three conventions born after Rio in 1992 to drive sustainable development – which has been meeting in Hyderabad in India this week, is no exception. I’ve seen tough negotiators from all corners of the Earth emerge from conference rooms wearing pained expressions.

It’s outside the negotiating rooms – where the major topic of the moment is how to mobilize the financial resources needed to meet the CBD’s ambitious Aichi Targets – where things are a lot brighter.

Cost-Effective Conservation

Rachel Kyte's picture

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The success of the Amazon Region Protected Areas Program (ARPA) drew a crowd here in Hyderabad at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity meeting. This effort by the government of Brazil – supported by the World Bank, the Global Environment Facility, WWF, and the German Development Bank (KfW) – is protecting almost 60 million hectares of rainforest, an area roughly the size of France and Belgium combined.

Speakers from the governments of Brazil and Germany, as well as from the GEF and foundations, all agreed that ARPA’s results are impressive: Between 2004 and 2006, ARPA accounted for 37 percent of Brazil’s substantial decrease in deforestation, and the program’s first 13 new protected areas will save more than 430 million tons of CO2 emissions through 2050.

Views From Brazil, Ecuador and India: What Will It Take to End Poverty?

Mehreen Arshad Sheikh's picture

Our World Bank community has been out in the field with video cameras asking families, farmers, workers and parents from all corners of the globe: What will it take… to improve your life?.. to get a better job? … to end poverty?

As part of our global conversation on social media and multimedia, we have received video from countries like Brazil, Ecuador, Tanzania, Laos and India. People are sharing their ideas, their hopes and their solutions for creating a better life for all.

Here are three views on #whatwillittake:

In Brazil, Maria José dos Santos tells us that providing more schools and childcare would allow mothers to get fulltime jobs. “It would be great if everybody had more access to child care and all day schools. That would enable mothers to work in peace.”

Bilan d’une semaine à Rio : du pain sur la planche pour lundi prochain

Rachel Kyte's picture

Nous nous sommes rendus à Rio+20, la Conférence des Nations Unies sur le développement durable, avec la ferme intention d’en repartir munis d’un plan concret, un plan également adressé aux ministres des finances, du développement et de l’environnement qui nous indiquerait les changements à opérer « dès le lundi matin prochain » en vue d’atteindre notre objectif d’un développement durable pour tous.

 

Ce plan, nous l’avons.

How a Week in Rio Leads to an Active Monday Morning

Rachel Kyte's picture

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What will you do Monday morning to start making a difference? UN Photo/Maria Elisa Franco

We came to Rio+20 determined that one outcome of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development must be a plan for what ministers of finance, development and environment and ourselves need to do differently Monday morning, June 25th  – if we are to achieve sustainable development for all. 

We have our plan.

We came to Rio+20 knowing that inclusive green growth is the pathway to sustainable development, and the evidence here is that this international community agrees. 

The analysis behind the World Bank’s report Inclusive Green Growth: The Pathway to Sustainable Development framed many of the conference debates and helped facilitate a new focus on natural capital accounting – a fundamental component of inclusive green growth.

According to the 59 countries, 86 companies, and 17 civil society organizations that supported the World Bank Group-facilitated 50:50 campaign – as well as many others – natural capital accounting is an idea whose time has come.   

In fact, natural capital accounting events filled the Rio Convention Center, and government and civil society groups alike highlighted the importance of moving beyond GDP.

This new energy and emphasis around this issue may be the most important outcome of Rio+ 20. 

Gender Equality: Smart Economics & Smart Business

Rachel Kyte's picture

Gro Harlem Brundtland speaks with Michele Bachelet at Rio+20. UN Photo/Maria Elisa Franco
Gro Harlem Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway and special envoy of the UN secretary-general on climate change, speaks with Michelle Bachelet, former president of Chile and executive director of UN Women, during a press conference at the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development. UN Photo/Maria Elisa Franco

Twenty years ago, evenings in the Planeta Femea - the women’s tent in the alternative forum, the Global Forum - changed my life. I started connecting health, rights, environment, and development through the vision of the women there. Now, 20 years later, a new generation of young women is angry and frustrated that their rights and their health always seem to get traded away at the last moment.

Absent here in Rio are some of the pioneers on whose shoulders we stand - Wangari Maathai and Bella Abzug to name just two. We should remember that in the run-up to Rio the first time around, delegates and officialdom thought them troublesome -  they “needed to be managed.” Wangari, of course, faced much worse before she was embraced as a radical reformer for peace and sustainable development and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

In Rio this time around, gender equality is understood as smart economics, and judging by the energy and programming in the private sector summits, smart business, too. This is a real advance in implementing Agenda 21.

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