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The Challenge to Integrate Individual Initiatives in Agriculture


I recently travelled to Europe for two important conferences:   the International Plant Protection Congress in Berlin and World Water Week (WWW) in Stockholm.

The IPPC is always an interesting venue as it brings together plant protection disciplines from not only across the globe but also across various disciplines like weeds and pests, diseases and insects and so forth.   The Congress addressed some of the big issues in plant protection today such as climate change and its impact on pests, and legal issues such as how to put in place legal instruments that support responsible use of technology for plant protection.

During the Congress there were a lot of very good isolated projects presented and discussed but I think the challenge is how do you connect them – all these research outputs & projects – into an integrated approach to increase crop productivity in a sustainable manner?

In the opening session I was fortunate enough to receive an Award of Distinction – one of six awards given out at the Congress.  The meeting was attended by some 1400 delegates from 95 countries.   The IPPC meets every 4 years and coincidentally the next Congress is being hosted by ICRISAT  in Hyderabad in 2019.

During my time in Berlin I also met with Caio Koch Weser, the Vice President of Deutsche Bank, which is based in Berlin.    He has an interesting background, having worked in the World Bank for many years – including serving as Secretary to World Bank President Robert McNamara – who many agree was one of the most influential Presidents in that organisation’s  history.

Meeting with Dr. Johan L Kuylenstierna, Executive Director, Stockholm Environment Institute during WWW

Meeting with Dr. Johan L Kuylenstierna, Executive Director, Stockholm Environment Institute during WWW

I met Ciao along with Marie Haga , the Executive Director of the GCDT (which is based in Bonn, Germany), to discuss ways to set up an investment vehicle for the Crop Trust as a means of funding that organisation moving forward.   We looked at how we could sequence the implementation of that vehicle, how to bring on ambassadors to help promote the vehicle, and how to ensure investors maintain their capital – investing in green funds – and at the same time ensuring the benefits are used to support the Crop Trust in growing and maintaining their genebank and potentially in supporting pre-breeding activities as well.

From Berlin I travelled to Stockholm where World Water Week  was holding it’s Silver Jubilee annual meeting; coincidentally Caio Koch Weser was part of the World Bank team that funded the first Water Week 25 years ago.

WWW is hosted by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and is an interesting platform for increasing awareness around the role of water and livelihoods and smart cities – how all this fits together.   This year the conference theme was WASH – Water & Sanitation & Hygiene – and how these elements all impact on the livelihoods of people in both cities and rural areas.

This discussion was particularly important in the lead up to the UN Summit in New York later this month where new Sustainable Development Goals for people and the planet – including those around water – will be adopted to replace the Millennium Goals that expire at the end of this year.

So this was a productive event and I learned a lot about the ecosystem of WWW but again it was interesting to see over the course of various sessions similar fragmented approaches as in Berlin.   The question is: how do you bring them together?   In any organisation there’s fragmentation – silos – and these silos also exist between organisations and across Ministries in government.

This seems to be an underlying theme that I think is preventing us from unlocking the challenges to providing sustainable solutions to rural families.   There’s a huge opportunity to harness that potential to support integration of these organisations leading to larger scale change – especially in rural farming communities around the world.

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