Global Soil Week Peer-reviews Strategies for Transforming Agriculture
Photo courtesy of Graciela Metternicht
story highlights

Discussions first focused on lessons “on the ground,” to draw broader insights for policymakers, agricultural services providers, development partners and other stakeholders on how to build an enabling environment for achieving the SDGs by strengthening the “missing middle” between global and national targets, and local realities.

These lessons were then distilled into key strategies for achieving an enabling environment for sustainable and climate-resilient agriculture.

Finally, peer-review workshops as well as a ‘GSW Lab’ examined the final set of strategies and recommendations against the realities of day-to-day policy formulation and implementation.

30 May 2019: Global Soil Week (GSW) 2019 convened under the theme, ‘Creating an Enabling Environment for Sustainable and Climate-Resilient Agriculture in Africa.’ Speakers stressed that what is needed is nothing less than transforming and modernizing agriculture and associated policies for an estimated 1.5 billion smallholder farmers, “the biggest workforce on our planet.” The discussions also brought in the perspectives of diverse “voices from the ground” – representatives of women’s and farmers’ organizations and youth – who underscored the importance of focusing on women’s empowerment as managers of land and natural resources, providing farmer-friendly extension services, and making agriculture “cooler” in order to attract youth.

The conference adopted a “bottom-up” approach that first allowed participants to discuss lessons learned from more than 20 projects in Africa and Asia that are promoting sustainable land management (SLM) at the local level. The aim of this technical segment, which took place during the first two days of the conference, was to draw broader insights for policymakers, agricultural services providers, development partners and other stakeholders on how to build an enabling environment for achieving the SDGs by strengthening the “missing middle” between global and national targets, and local realities.

The technical sessions addressed project experiences under the broad themes of: practices for empowering women’s participation in SLM and decision making; business models to strengthen financial and market inclusion for smallholder farmers and pastoralists; and mechanisms for bridging macro- and micro-level land governance structures.

Building on the case studies, ‘Dimension Workshops’ on the second and third days further distilled the lessons learned into key strategies for achieving an enabling environment for sustainable and climate-resilient agriculture. During these workshops, participants focused on insights gained on how to do projects differently in order to bridge the gap that exists between the SDGs and action on the ground.

Following these workshops, a high-level segment took place, bringing together officials from Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, India and Germany, as well as technical experts from international and regional organizations. The discussions focused on identifying entry points to channel the results from the technical segment of GSW 2019 into national and global policy processes. In a series of peer-review workshops as well as a ‘GSW Lab,’ participants examined the final set of strategies and recommendations against the realities of day-to-day policy formulation and implementation.

In parallel to the peer-review workshops, the GSW Co-Host governments (Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Madagascar), as well as funding and technical partners, discussed an outcome document reiterating the urgency of the climate crisis and the importance of building the case that investing in nature-based solutions – such as facilitating access to voluntary carbon markets for farmers – makes sense from an ecosystem, livelihoods and financial perspective. Töpfer, Müller, Gaßner – Think Tank for Sustainability (TMG Research) informed the group that the document would be finalized with a view to providing input to the Nature-Based Solutions stream of the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit, as part of contributions being submitted by Major Groups.

GSW 2019 brought together more than 200 experts, policymakers, civil society representatives and representatives of international organizations and development partners. The event was convened by TMG Research, with support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). It took place from 27-30 May 2019, in Nairobi, Kenya. [IISD RS Coverage of Global Soil Week 2019]


related events