Eduardo Rojas Briales – Opening – Opening Address: Negotiating landscapes for multiple benefits

This article posts during GLF 2014. See in English | Espanol

Assistant Director-General of FAO, Eduardo Rojas Briales, speaks at the high-level opening plenary session from the first day of the Global Landscapes Forum 2014, in Lima, Peru, during COP20.

The session explores how integrated approaches support the achievement of multiple benefits in the landscape, by addressing the following points: Which processes and principles can be applied that help in negotiating multiple benefits? What are the main obstacles to achieving combined land use solutions? And what does “good landscape governance” look like?

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Global Landscapes Forum, Lima, Peru

#COP20GLF #ThinkLandscape

Eduardo Rojas Briales – Opening Address- Negotiating landscapes for multiple benefits

Your Excellency, Minister D. Juan Benitez,

Heads of UN agencies and other international organizations,



Ladies and Gentlemen,

buenas tardes, bonjour, good afternoon!

It is a special honour for me to greet you on the occasion of the Global Landscapes Forum 2 on behalf of FAO Director-General Dr José Graziano da Silva. He would have wished to address you directly but was unable to do so, due to the meeting of the FAO Council. It is an honour to take part in this opening ceremony together with the Peruvian Minister of Agriculture, D. Juan Benitez. Allow me to extend a warm welcome to you all, on behalf of all of the organizations that have made this this Forum possible.

The success, in terms of participation, of this second edition of the Global Landscapes Forum has exceeded all expectations. A total of 1 600 participants have registered and the web page has been receiving more than 10 000 visits per day. All this is thanks to the success of previous editions, including GLF1 – celebrated for the first time during COP19 in Warsaw – as well as Forest Day, Agriculture and Rural Development Day, and Mountain Day. I would like to acknowledge the excellent cooperation among the organizers of this event: CIFOR, UNEP, FAO, our various partners, as well as the special role played by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests which has organized various editions of GLF as well as its predecessor, Forest Day. By uniting our efforts, we can ensure that our messages are carried farther at the same time as we search for solutions in these interconnected areas.

We would like to express special gratitude towards those donors who, thanks to their support, have made this event possible: the CGIAR research programme on forests, trees and agroforestry, UKAID, NORAD and AusAID. We also thank South Pole Carbon who, through its carbon emissions compensation programme, has enabled this event to be carbon neutral.

2015 will be a crucial year for the international agenda. The UN General Assembly will approve the post-2015 agenda which includes the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with targets to 2030. It is very important that agriculture, forests, mountains, food and nutrition, rural development and climate change are reflected in an inclusive way in the future Sustainable Development Goals, so that their multi-functional potential is fully realized and not constrained or limited.

In 2015 we will also celebrate the International Year of Soils, and the Hyogo Framework on disaster risk reduction will be approved. Furthermore, Beijing+20 will strengthen the importance of gender. Allow me to remind you, as Commissioner-General of the UN for Milan Expo 2015, of the excellent opportunity that this Expo offers to disseminate information about the main challenges and opportunities to improve food security for all the citizens of this planet in the shortest possible time and in a sustainable way. The UN presence will focus on the Zero Hunger Challenge launched by the Secretary-General at Rio+20. Finally, in September, South Africa and FAO will organize the XIV World Forestry Congress, the main forestry event on the planet, which will be hosted for the first time on the African continent. You are all warmly invited to both events.

Humanity is facing key challenges such as food and nutrition security, the fight against poverty, climate change, and energy security. Even today, 805 million people suffer from chronic hunger, one billion people live in extreme poverty, especially in rural areas. We need to ensure access to energy, water and sanitation, education, health, employment, a dignified life and security to all. And all this in a way that is sustainable and allows us to preserve conditions for life on the planet and prevent natural disasters – for this forests are key.

The integrated approach of this Forum invites us to address these challenges from a shared perspective that recognizes the significant linkages between agriculture, forests, and mountains. The landscape approach – is based on a deeply rooted forestry tradition: watershed management. Suffice it to recall the name of the forestry career in Francophone countries since the establishment of the School of Nancy in 1824 (Ingénieurs des Eaux et Forêts). By overcoming sectoral barriers or a particular land use or activity, one can achieve economies of scale in social and political terms (communication) and find synergies while building new partnerships. We could mention as examples forest restoration, agroforestry, silvo-pastoral models, the relationship between mangroves and fisheries, and pollination. Looking to the future we should pay more attention to the water issue. This new paradigm must place rural people and their legitimate aspirations to human development at the centre of attention and as point of convergence of different sectors and activities.

But we also have good news, suggesting that we are on the right track. During the recent ICN-2 which took place at FAO Headquarters in Rome a few weeks ago, world leaders agreed on the establishment of national policies to eradicate malnutrition and transform agri-food chains so as to ensure adequate and universally affordable diets. There was widespread agreement at ICN-2 with respect to the limits of the planet and the environmental dimension of this collective effort. As emphasized at Rio+20, the 3 pillars of sustainability cannot be addressed in isolation.

ICN-2 recalled the need to address the linkages between food and health while increasing the recognition of how much health depends on the environmental conditions – especially of air and water – where people live, which also highlights the importance of peri-urban forests. We have to redesign agriculture not only to be ready by 2050 to feed a planet with 9 000 million people, having overcome hunger and poverty, but to do so with healthy diets.

The emerging terminology of climate-smart agriculture seeks to place agriculture as a central solution for many challenges, particularly climate change in both its adaptation and mitigation aspects. It also aims to legitimately improve production and income, especially for small farmers. The Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture launched at the Climate Summit by the UN Secretary-General in September should serve as a platform to support action in this area.

REDD + is one of the most immediate mitigation opportunities which provides substantial environmental and social co-benefits. We find that countries are making considerable progress in this area with the support of numerous international partners that include UN-REDD (formed by UNDP, UNEP and FAO and supporting 56 countries) and the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility of the World Bank.

An increasing number of countries have pledged to restore significant areas of land under the Bonn Challenge 2011 and the Aichi targets. As a contribution in this area, FAO has recently launched the Forest Landscape Restoration Facility which aims to support countries in their efforts towards forest restoration. We would like to mention in this context also the Global Soil Partnership, the Forest and Farm Facility and the Mountain Partnership, hosted by FAO.

Finally we must remember that rural areas and activities are also the source of renewable bio-materials (wood, bamboo, fibres, etc.) that will allow us to follow a path towards greener and lower carbon economies, thanks to the invaluable substitution effect. New developments in the chemical, textile, construction and energy industries are opening up new opportunities to diversify and improve the living conditions of the rural population, encourage entrepreneurship and optimize the use of by-products. This is possible as long as competition with food production is avoided and sustainability limits are respected.

To achieve the paradigm shift advocated by this Forum we have to innovate at both the scientific and technological levels as well as at a conceptual level with the aim of achieving rural territories that are more resilient, able to protect us from disasters, effective in the use of resources, and productive in terms of goods and services, while we ensure rural development that is inclusive and respectful of the environment.

All actors must be involved. The example of the Committee on Food Security, hosted in FAO, can inspire us along the way. The Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security, approved in 2012 by the Committee, offer an inspiring example to follow in such a crucial, as well as politically sensitive, area for the future of rural societies.

The relentless process of urbanization which is taking place on all continents should not lead us to believe the illusion that modern society will be less dependent on rural areas. Quite the contrary, the challenges that society faces today require much more of its territory, resources, activities and population, as well as of its traditional knowledge, than in the past. This Forum, which, on behalf of FAO, I have the honour to contribute to opening today, should guide us to respond optimally to these emerging issues. I wish you all fruitful discussions and thank you for your kind attention!