Q1: Partner Profile – Farming First

CropLife International is a proud supporter of Farming First, a multi-stakeholder coalition that identifies and promotes ways to advance sustainable agriculture. With one shared voice, Farming First highlights the importance of improving farmer livelihoods as well as the important contribution that agriculture makes to food security, climate change, and biodiversity. Here, Farming First’s coordinator Michael Hoevel discusses key takeaways from their recent dialogue on the Sustainable Development Goals.

Promoting Nature-Based Solutions for the SDGs

Today’s agricultural challenges are interconnected and must be tackled in a holistic manner. This was one of the key takeaways from Farming First’s recent dialogue exploring how to help farmers deliver nature-based solutions toward the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Farming First coalition viewed the dialogue as an opportunity to elevate agricultural voices ahead of the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA 5.2). To cover a wide range of topics, participants were split into four breakout sessions focusing on ecosystem services to improve food, water, and energy systems; sustainable land use practices; food security under climate change; and precision agriculture techniques – each generating its own set of key takeaways.

Food security starts with the soil

Across the discussion groups, there was a strong emphasis on the importance of soil in our food systems. These conversations illuminated the value – and challenges – of measuring and maintaining soil health. For instance, one of the key problems identified was the need for standardized benchmarks. Benchmarks can not only help evaluate the health of the soil but also help provide farmers with guidance on best practices.

Soils also play a key role in capturing carbon, which can help with climate mitigation. To ensure farmers are able to manage soils for carbon capture, food systems actors need to work across sectors – from agriculture and environment to finance and retail. Farmers – and especially smallholders – are on the frontlines of climate change, dealing with the early consequences of the climate crisis every day.

Given this harsh reality, the session on food security stressed the need to empower farmers to sustainably steward the land while providing food and nutrition for the planet. Examples of this included ensuring farmers can access new crop varieties and digital tools. Reflecting the fact that farmers face myriad challenges, the food security session also underlined the need for bundled solutions and holistic approaches.

Harnessing innovation to empower farmers

The need to empower farmers – in a time when we must create more from less – was strongly echoed in the discussion on ecosystem services to improve food, water, and energy systems. Here attendees agreed that localized solutions responsive to specific agroecological and socioeconomic conditions will allow farmers to use innovations best suited to their needs.

It also became clear that technology of all kinds can be relevant depending on the context. Precision agriculture, for example, can come in many shapes and forms. But for farmers to use the technology, it must reach them first. Toward this end, participants concluded that education and extension services should be strengthened and expanded.

Elevating voices

Taken together, Farming First’s dialogue shows the power of galvanizing a wide range of agricultural stakeholders. Not only does this enable new ideas to emerge and connections to be made, but it can elevate voices that might otherwise not be heard, as showcased through the #FarmingUNEA5 social media campaign, featuring key insights from the conversations. Over the campaign period, Farming First’s Twitter and LinkedIn outreach garnered nearly 30,000 impressions.

Campaigns like these are at the core of Farming First. Consisting of almost 200 agricultural organizations around the world, the coalition represents a diverse but shared voice, and through conversations such as this Dialogue, can highlight the important contribution that agriculture can make to broader global development issues.

Explore all the outcomes from the dialogue here and join the conversation on social media using #FarmingUNEA5!