Editorial-1772015 is a critical year for the future of sustainable development. Three major high-powered conferences are taking place during the year; major decisions will be made and their impacts will reverberate for decades to come. These are: the Financing for Development (FfD) Conference in Addis Ababa, which took place in July, the UN Summit on the post-2015 development agenda in New York in September and the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December.

The UN Summit in September will approve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will kick in as the Millennium Development Goals come to an end in 2015. Among the 17 goals and 169 targets proposed for the SDGs, Goal 2 and its five targets focus on food and nutrition security and agriculture, which set specific, nutrition-related targets on reducing stunting and wasting among children. They also include targets on improving agricultural productivity and incomes for smallholders, increasing resilience, boosting investments in rural infrastructure, reducing trade restrictions and distortions and protecting biodiversity. Other SDGs address important aspects of food and agriculture, including post-harvest and food losses, access to land, and regulation of fishing.

Achieving the SDGs will largely depend on the availability of financial resources, hence the importance of the FfD Conference in Addis Ababa. A key focus of this conference was on innovative ways to mobilise finance, including from the private sector. Given the high level of perceived risk associated with agriculture, smallholder farmers and small and medium- sized enterprises find it difficult to get credit from banks. Several organisations, including CTA, are exploring various ways to deliver inclusive value chain finance that could unlock capital for smallholders and SMEs. The Climate Summit is also expected to address financing issues.

In all these discussions, the challenge will be how to translate what is decided in Addis Ababa, New York and Paris into real benefits for millions of farmers across the developing world.

Michal Hailu
Director – CTA

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