On March 28th, 2019, the WFO Secretary General, Arianna Giuliodori, joined on behalf of the World Farmers’ Organisation, the VI Global Conference on Family Farming in Bilbao, Spain. The event represented a preparatory event of the launching of the UN Decade of Family Farming 2019-2028, to be held in Rome, at FAO headquarters, from May 27th to 29th.

Under the title “A Decade to improve the lives of Family Farmers”, the event, organised by the World Rural Forum (WRF), brought together representatives from Farmers’ Organisations, Civil Society Organisations, Governments, International Organisations, Research Centres and Cooperatives from all over the world to discuss how to implement the Decade, with a specific focus on the global action plan proposed by FAO and IFAD.

Adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 20th, 2017 the UN Decade will serve as a framework to work collectively to design and implement comprehensive economic, environmental and social policies, and to strengthen the position of family farming by creating conducive environments at all levels. This will, in turn, also contribute to the achievement of the SDGs, in particular those related to food security and nutrition.

During her intervention, the WFO Secretary General reminded that it is up to the farmers’ community worldwide to make the Decade a success.

We believe that family farming is able to deliver on the Sustainability challenge from the 3 perspectives: environmental, social and economic. Actually, if we don’t create the right conditions for the family farmers to decently earn their living from the farm, we will have no farming in the future!
We also believe that women empowerment and youth involvement are the most powerful instruments to accelerate the achievement of the Decade’s goals. But it is not about letting them play in the small game. We expect young and women farmers to overwhelmingly take a seat around the big table and become leaders of farms, processing industries, marketing activities, cooperatives, farmers organisations at all levels, from the local to the global dimension. Their energy and passion will give a boost to the entire agricultural sector.
In order to achieve the goals of the decade we need to act on different priorities: first, advocating for a better ACCESS to natural resources, including land and water, to social policies, to opportunities and credit.
We need a rural development approach that goes beyond agriculture to embrace the entire rural communities: a farm is not an island and a family needs health assistance, schools, services.
We need stronger and stronger farmers’ organisations, able to support family farmers in this transformation toward sustainability. That is why it is vital to train them to advocacy and leadership; to promote peer-to-peer exchanges; to spread the use of ICT tools and to reinforce their technical skills.
We need to embrace INNOVATION as a way of life. Farmers have always been natural innovators. In the traditional knowledge of today, there is yesterday’s innovation. Innovation is a fundamental process that goes beyond technology and includes business models, social services, agricultural practices.
To be sure that we are proceeding in the right direction we need to set clear goals, milestones, indicators, collect data and measure relentlessly.
If we are able to do so, not only we will successfully achieve SDG 1 and 2 in 2028 instead of 2030, but we can show the world that family farmers hold the key to achieve the entire Agenda 2030 and, even more than this, they hold an important part of the answer to the most pressing challenges of our time: migration, urbanisation, demographic growth, climate change.

As a member of the Committee for the implementation of the Decade, the World Farmers’ Organisation is ready and willing to work with all the fellow farmers’ organisations of the world and other relevant stakeholders to make the Decade a success and to achieve sustainable development.