Canadian agriculture groups working to ensure diverse voices weigh in on UN Food Systems goals


The United Nations Food Systems Summit is coming up this fall, and is set up as a way to kickstart global agriculture systems in achieving sustainable development goals of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN.

There are seventeen sustainable development goals, and the purpose of the meeting is to create tangible solutions to implements the goals.

There is a worry though, that the outcomes of the meeting will be centred on European values, and for the Canadian Canola Growers Association (CCGA), like many other organizations in Canada that represent producers, it’s important to have a voice at the table.

“Europe is heavily involved, I’ll say it that way, but that’s why we are heavily involved,” says Rick White, president and CEO of the Canadian Canola Growers Association. “It’s not to go and argue, it’s to make the point, and have a voice at the table, so that others don’t speak for you. My experience so far, is that there’s a lot of good discussion, but there’s still a ‘we want to do it our way’ kind of attitude.”

In order to better advocate for Canadian commodities, White wants to focus on the scientific issues by using data, dropping the ideology, and make real, positive change for the three parameters of sustainability: the economy, social implications, and the environment. He adds that people tend to forget that sustainability is like a three-legged stool and that without the economics, it won’t stand.

The outcomes of the summit will have the potential to dictate policy, as Canada is a member-state of the UN — the gatekeeper of all those policies being the Canadian government. White and the CCGA have been working at educating the federal government through in-house pre-summit consultations, including advocating for farmers and the great job Canadian agriculture has done at increasing sustainability.

“I know Canadian farmers, in particular, all look after their farm with sustainability in mind, because they want it for the next generation, they want to leave their land in better shape than they received it, and make progress over time,” says White. “We just need to show people, and tell people, and measure this stuff to some degree, so it doesn’t antagonize farmers too much, but we need to tell that story, and make sure that it gets heard.”

Hear the full conversation between White and RealAg Radio host Shaun Haney:

Read more: Will Canada show grazing’s good side at the UN Food Systems Summit? 

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