RTRS was invited to participate in the fifth edition of the European Union Agricultural Outlook conference, which this year is entitled Sustainability from farm to fork. It was organized by the Directorate-General of Agriculture and Rural Development in Brussels, Belgium and took place on December 10th and 11th 2019.
The EU Agricultural Outlook conference has become the primary annual event to gather European stakeholders willing to engage and discuss the future of agriculture in Europe and the challenges that lie ahead.
Discussion on day one involved high level panellists and focused on sustainability from farm to fork. The second day started with a discussion on the impact of increasing societal demands on food prices. This was followed by a debate on the outlook for EU agricultural markets (crops, biofuels, specialised crops, meat and dairy).
RTRS was invited to speak in Session 4 of first day´s panel, entitled Sustainable Trade and opened by Sandra Gallina, Deputy Director-General (DG) of Trade for the European Commission. She spoke about how trade contributes to the sustainability of the global food system. Ann Tutwiler, Special Advisor from the Food and Land Use Coalition, later conducted an interview on the topic.
On behalf of the Association, RTRS President Marina Born de Engels attended the panel and delivered a presentation on RTRS’ activities related to sustainable sourcing, the different options for certified material offered by RTRS and their respective certifications. She also touched upon initiatives and projects – including landscapes approaches – where the Association participates or takes a leading role, and also delivered a key message on areas where government and organizations can work together.
‘International trade – and, more specifically, trade agreements between different regions – can have major positive effects on agricultural practices. We cannot solve environmental issues while creating social problems in the countries of origin. We must approach these issues holistically. RTRS and its certification standard is all about achieving such solutions. This is an important element in achieving the goal of producing 100% sustainable soy,’ said Marina Born de Engels. She also pointed out that “RTRS is involved in jurisdictional projects in various regions in Brazil and Argentina, as an example of the holistic approach which we hope to expand to other areas of South America and the world”.
Experienced British journalist Aminda Leigh chaired the panel, attended by representatives of sustainability initiatives such as Bart Vandewaetere (Head of Corporate Communications and Government Relations at Nestle for the Euro Zone, Middle East and North Africa), Emilie Sarrazin (Member of the Standards Committee at Fairtrade International) and David Amudavi (Executive Director, Biovision Africa Trust at Ecological Organic African Initiative).
Participants included EU institutions, governments and international organisations, those involved in the food supply chain, market experts, academics, think tanks and civil society.
‘It’s an important step forward for RTRS to be invited as a speaker by the European Commission in a session about sustainable trade. It reflects RTRS’s credibility on the matter and is an outstanding opportunity to establish RTRS as a credible partner in promoting good governance in the soy supply chain,’ said Marina Born de Engels. She went on to say that “events of this kind can lead to different alternatives for joint work, generating synergies between governments and multilateral associations and existing multi-stakeholder roundtables for different commodities, rather than creating or fostering new structures. They create the conditions for this journey where we search for common solutions together”.
12 December 2019