IFOAM has campaigned for and succeeded in having a Sustainable Development Goal dedicated to sustainable agriculture

The UN General Assembly's Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) concluded its 13th and final session at UN Headquarters in New York on Saturday, 19 July 2014. The OWG adopted its outcome by acclamation, and the proposal will be submitted to the UN General Assembly for consideration and appropriate action. Although there is still another year’s worth of negotiations before the proposed SDGs are adopted, IFOAM has achieved its aim of having a standalone goal on Sustainable Agriculture with clearly defined targets on the promotion of smallholders, climate resilience and genetic resources.

The long-awaited set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) goes into effect after 2015 and includes things like doubling the incomes of small-scale food producers. A final list of 17 goals also asks the world to ‘ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters, and that progressively improve land and soil quality’. Another target is on maintaining genetic diversity of seeds, cultivated plants, farmed and domesticated animals and their related wild species by 2020, and ensuring access to and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge as internationally agreed. The good news for the organic movement is that if Organic Agriculture and trade is done sustainably, it clearly meets all these criteria. These goals really matter, because they will help steer billions of dollars in aid and investment over the coming decades to these UN priorities.

While many delegations and observers were not utterly satisfied with the final set of 17 goals and 169 targets (including 62 targets on means of implementation), the general feeling was that the document represented the best outcome that could be hoped for, looking back on the Group’s 16 months of work.

The final document can be found here.

The goals will be presented to the U.N. General Assembly in September and then will undergo a year of even more intense negotiations.

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