How can agro-commodity traders contribute to the SDGs

29 May 2015 by Andrew Bovarnick, Global Head of the Green Commodities Programme, Sustainable Development Cluster, UNDP

cocoa podsGhana’s cocoa is produced by thousands of smallholder farmers, spread over six of the country’s 10 regions. Photo: COCOBOD
With the global population predicted to reach nine billion by 2050, we face a dual challenge: ensuring the continued production of agricultural commodities, such as soy, palm oil, cattle, coffee and cocoa, without destroying the planet’s natural resources that humanity depends on to survive. Agricultural commodities are the bedrock of a number of rural developing economies, contributing to vital economic growth and the ongoing fight against poverty. As such, they play a critical role in contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals. But deforestation and land degradation, a direct result of the growth of the agriculture sector, is irreversibly damaging our planet, its biodiversity, and the important ecosystem services it provides. In fact, the largest driver of deforestation today is the production of agricultural commodities. This is why UNDP set up the Green Commodities Programme (GCP) in 2009 to spearhead dialogue, decision-making and action in the agro-commodity sector between governments, the private sector and civil society. The goal is to improve the economic, social and environmental impact of agricultural commodities, with a specific focus on improving the lot of smallholders, most of whom live in poverty with no access to training, financing or land security. For example, an estimated 26 million coffee … Read more

Racing against the clock, torrential rains and new earthquakes

29 May 2015 by Ugo Blanco, Regional Advisor for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, UNDP

woman holds babyThe destruction in rural areas affected by the earthquake is severe. Basic services have been affected, and families with babies have difficulty responding to the health needs and housing. Photo: Ugo Blanco / UNDP
The truth is I didn’t know what time it was. Only weeks after the terrible earthquake that devastated Nepal, I was with a team of engineers working with families from the Sindhupalchock district, a rural area in the centre of Nepal where barely a house was left standing. As a UNDP regional crisis adviser, I was focused on the job at hand -- but fate had other plans. Another quake hit. I didn't know what was happening. My legs started shaking uncontrollably, and suddenly I fell to the ground. Then I heard the shouts. Many of the families we were there to help panicked. Men, women, children -- everyone was screaming. Some fainted, while even more homes collapsed around us. In Nepal, we are running against the clock, facing a large number of challenges that make reconstruction a complex task. Over 300,000 homes were damaged. They pose a huge risk, as it’s only a matter of time until they too collapse. In addition, winter is approaching with its torrential monsoon rains. It is absolutely urgent that we help these communities have safer and warmer homes in the coming weeks. People who already had very little before the earthquakes, have now lost … Read more

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