The 2015 Paris Climate Conference, COP21, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provided the context for the third Annual SIANI meeting, where the SDGs in particular became the recurring theme in many presentations and discussions. You can find the full summary report from the event and the infographic with the results from the Round Table Dialogue here. Below are 5 key messages that emerged throughout the day:
#1 – Building connections
During 2015 both SIANI and its members have been present at and arranged a number of seminars, ranging from Almedalen, the political forum in Sweden, to international conferences like the Global Landscapes Forum at COP21.The global connections were made clear by Matthew Fielding as he presented data showing the SIANI website has visitors from almost every country in the world except 9. On top of the extensive geographical outreach, in 2015 SIANI has also advanced on bridging connections between different disciplines. This was exemplified by Anders Malmer of SLU Global,theme leader for Sustainable Agricultural Production and Food Security, and Maria Ölund of Focali, theme leader for Forest, Landscapes and Food Security, who mentioned how SIANI Themes have enabled outreach to and connections with different societal sectors and key stakeholders.
#2 – Tracking progress to a better world
Moving from a theoretical understanding of how different issues connect and affect the world’s hunger statistics, Alexandra Silfverstolpe, founder of Data Act Lab, presented the Ending Rural Hunger Project, an interactive online tool developed in cooperation with the Brookings Institute which helps to collect, sort and visualize data about food and nutrition security of the world’s rural population. Basing on three dimensions, needs, policies and available resources, the tool makes it possible to track the progress for achieving the SDG #2 and also provides policy directions for more effective ways to reach the goal. One of the key messages was that altering food security situation requires better aid targeting. A. Silfverstolpe emphasised the importance of investing in infrastructure and careful consideration of agricultural subsidies. The Ending Rural Hunger report recommends that well-off countries should switch some money from agricultural subsidies into aid.
#3 – Working together for a better impact
SIANI members who participated in the meeting were able to contribute to the SIANI work plan in 2016. This activity was organized in a form of the Roundtable Dialogues, an engaging and interactive method that makes it possible to get ideas from every participant. A wide spectrum of topics, actionable and creative ideas were shared. Strengthening communication and knowledge transfer within the network and improved accessibility of information for people outside the network was a common thread, as well as how to work together to monitor the progress of the SDGs and how to better contextualize them. The SIANI team is currently working on the report from the discussions which will be available on the website in mid-February.
#4 – Producing knowledge
The scope of what SIANI will be doing in 2016opened up more with the talks made by when SIANI Expert Groups. The work in SIANI expert groups is very robust, the topics range from more local solutions to improve soil fertility through biochar to the best suitable solutions for food waste management systems to understanding of interactions between food security, sanitation, water and nutrition.
A group of students from SLU presented their work on SIANI Youth initiative and further emphasized the need to reach out to people who are not usually engaged in agricultural matters as well as the importance of more accessible language and broader communication strategy.
#5 – Breaking the silos
“Breaking the silos” was a message popping up again and again during the day. Ola Möller, SIDA, explained that despite the fact that today’s agriculture is a large contributor to both greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss, rural development and sustainable practices also provide an opportunity for agriculture to climb the ladder of political priorities because agriculture can gather many of the SDGs ”under one umbrella”.