Over 400 participants from around the world, more than 70 international speakers. These are the numbers that made up the 2019 edition of the World Farmers’ Organisation General Assembly in Luxembourg.

Rome, Italy, May 24th, 2019 – Over 400 participants from around the world, more than 70 international speakers. These are the numbers that made up the 2019 edition of the World Farmers’ Organisation General Assembly in Luxembourg, where farmers’ leaders gathered to exchange their views and share their experience on how INNOVATION in all its forms can light up the way forward, transforming the farm towards an improved viability and the food systems towards global sustainability.

The high-level representatives of governments and other national and subnational institutions, multilateral and international organizations, research centres and academia, private sector entities, development agencies, and others that came together to join the debate at this year’s General Assembly included among others: Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister of Luxembourg; Romain Schneider, Minister of Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development of Luxembourg; Mario Arvelo, Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic to the Rome-based UN Agencies and Chair of the United Nations Committee on World Food Security, UN CFS; Jean-Jacques Soula, Coordinator of the World Organisation for Animal Health, OIE; Judith Kons, Head of Division 625, Global Forum on Food and Agriculture, GFFA; Graziano da Silva, Director General of FAO (video message); David Nabarro, 2018 World Food Prize laureate and Curator of the Food System Dialogues (FSDs); Fabrice De Clerck, EAT Science Director; Thouraya Triki, Director Sustainable Production, IFAD; Emanuele Santi, Fund Manager, Bamboo Capital Partners; Mi Nguyen, Co-Chair, Global Alliance on Climate Smart Agriculture, GACSA; Timothy T.Y. Hsiang, Secretary General, ICDF – International Cooperation and Development Fund; Dimitri Houtart, BBC Rural Affairs Champion, to name but a few.

The title of this year’s General Assembly was “THE FARMERS’ ROUTE” to indicate the path that farmers are building and following to achieve a more sustainable future for all and to underline the need of promoting a real farmer driven approach to tackle global challenges, with a special  focus was onINNOVATION, analysing and comparing different experiences and approaches.

The WFO General Assembly lasted four days, from May 20th to 23rd, and the first day was dedicated to parallel technical sessions organized and led by the WFO working groups and committees on their respective policy areas, including CLIMATE CHANGE, VALUE CHAIN, WOMEN AND YOUTH,LIVESTOCK and INNOVATION.

Speakers and participants shared their opinions and experiences to figure out what solutions to look for to drive the agriculture towards a brighter future for all.

All the topics were discussed in a holistic manner thus achieving an inspiring and constructive exchange among all the actors of the entire value chain.

The first day also featured the second meeting of the “CLIMAKERS”, the members of the Farmers Driven Climate Change Alliance.

The meeting provided a venue to further develop the points agreed during the first meeting, including the shared roles and responsibilities of the players involved, and envisage new opportunities and partnerships to make progress on the Farmers Driven Climate Change Agenda, as to ensure that the initiative delivers its outcomes.

Launched in Katowice, Poland, within the context of the UNFCCC COP 24 Farmers Day, this initiative, conceived by the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO), aims to enhance the role of the farmers in the global political discussion on climate change.

In the evening, the Opening Ceremony officially gave the start to the 2019 edition WFO General Assembly.

This year, for the first time, the World Farmers’ Organisation launched the WFO Award, honouring all the women farmers who are contributing to a better agricultural sector and a better world through their leadership in farmers’ organisations. To thank these great women for all their efforts in supporting the world farmers, a tree for each of them was planted and marked with their name and it will forever be out there on the web, for them to see in a digital garden.

From the farmers from all the corners of this globe, the best wishes to the awarded Women Farmers Leaders: Katrina Sarah Milne, President, Federated Farmers of New Zealand, New Zealand; Minette Batters, President, UK National Farmers Union, UK; Sonja de Becker, President, Boerenbond, Belgium; Veronica Barbati, President, Coldiretti Youth, Italy; Mary Robinson, President, Canadian Federation of Agriculture, Canada; Christiane Lambert, President, FNSEA, France; An Sarun, President, Cambodian Farmers Association Federation of Agricultural Producers, Cambodia; Fiona Simson, President, National Farmers’ Federation Australia, Australia; Elizabeth Mpofu, General Coordinator, La Via Campesina; Elizabeth Nsimadala, President, Eastern Africa Farmers Federation, EAFF; Marianne Streel, President, Fédération Wallonne de l’Agriculture, Belgium; Elisabeth Atangana, President, Concertation Nationale des Organisations Paysannes du Cameroun, Cameroun; Agita Hauka, President, Latvian Farmers’ Federation, Latvia; Teresa Hałas, President, NSZZ RI Solidarność, Poland.

The second day consisted of the Internal Affairs Session, during which the General Assembly approved the “FARMERS’ ROUTE DECLARATION”, a statement that promotes a real “farmers driven approach” to tackle global challenges, highlighting the path that the farmers of the world are already building and following to achieve a more sustainable future for all.

The approval of the “Farmers’ Route Declaration” represents a tremendous achievement and confirms the principle of the “farmers driven” agenda, which has been guiding WFO engagement in all political process on agriculture since May 2018, in Moscow,  where the General Assembly adopted a new agenda to enhance the position of the farmers in the global political discussion on climate change.

The third day saw the High-Level Panel Session, moderated by Dimitri Houtart, BBC Rural Affairs Champion & Radio 4 Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Editor.

In the morning, participants were involved in the “Luxembourg Food Systems Dialogues” session, curated by Dr David Nabarro, 2018 World Food Prize laureate. It was a great opportunity to explore options for food systems transformation for farmers and agriculture around the world, emphasizing the links with food systems more broadly.

The following session viewed the worldwide farmers’ leaders and EAT Lancet Foundation on the same stage for an open, inclusive and holistic debate on the talked-about report that EAT Lancet Foundation released.

The audience was one of the main actors, with its knowledge, experience and expertise, reminding that farmers produce a wide variety of food for year-round consumption and this variety that provides a balanced diet with high nutritional value vegetables, fruits, grains and animal products, is key to end all forms of malnutrition and ensure healthy lives for all.

In the afternoon, the session on “Innovative Financing in Agriculture” promoted the exchange between International Financial Institutions that invest in the agricultural sector worldwide and the world farmers’ leaders, with the aim of providing practical examples of ongoing projects and programmes and set the path for future sustainable and effective commitments.

The General Assembly culminated in the farm visits around the Luxembourg Area, during which participants had the opportunity to share their own knowledge and experience and learning from each other.

The next edition of the WFO General Assembly will be held in Minnesota in the late spring of 2020.

The FARMERS’ ROUTE has been set and we are navigating towards a more sustainable future for all.