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GHI highlights Latin American agriculture at Clinton Foundation event
By Dr. Margaret M. Zeigler, Executive Director, Global Harvest Initiative
On December 11, 2014, The Clinton Foundation convened a collaborative meeting, Future of the Americas, in Miami, Florida, focusing on the dynamic role of the Americas in the global arena. Hosted on the campus of the University of Miami by the University President, Dr. Donna Shalala, and led by former President Bill Clinton, attendees included high level government participants from the Americas such as President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, Vice President Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado of Panama, and former President of Peru, Alejandro Toledo. Leaders from the private sector included Carlos Slim of Mexico, Robert Zoellick, Chairman of Goldman Sachs International Advisors and former President of the World Bank, and business leaders from countries in the region such as Gustavo Grobocopatel, President of Grupo Los Grobo, Argentina. Thought leaders from GHI Consultative Partner organizations such as Mark Tercek, President and CEO of The Nature Conservancy, and Luis Alberto Moreno, President of the Inter-American Development Bank, provided additional focus on environmental and social issues.
One of the major outcomes of the Future of the Americas gathering was to provide prioritized policy and investment recommendations on health, economic growth, energy, and agriculture and food security to the upcoming Seventh Summit of the Americas meeting to be held in Panama on April 10-11, 2015. This meeting will convene the majority of heads of state from the Western Hemisphere.
The First Summit of the Americas was convened by President Clinton in 1994. The Summits brings together heads of state from democracies in the Western Hemisphere to strengthen cooperation, expand prosperity, and promote democracy, and build upon themes of eradicating poverty and discrimination, stimulating economic growth, and fostering sustainable development.
As part of the Future of the Americas meeting, I was honored to be invited by session moderator, Dr. Ruben Echeverria, Director General of CIAT, to make remarks during the major session entitled “Can Latin America be the World’s Breadbasket?” The session was based on the groundbreaking policy report co-published by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and GHI, “The Next Global Breadbasket: How Latin America Can Feed the World.” The session discussed ways to increase agricultural productivity and revamp agricultural innovation systems in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Over 40 attendees to this session engaged in provocative dialogue and Ruben summarized the outcome of the food and agriculture session with priority recommendations to the Seventh Summit of the Americas as follows:
- Invest in sustainable agricultural productivity: public and private research & development, restoration of degraded landscapes, adaptation to climate change, and agricultural health services;
- Implement effective agricultural public policies: improve rural infrastructure, trade, natural resources tenure and property rights; and institutional capacity building; and,
- Strengthen public-private partnerships: linking family farmers to markets, cooperatives and producer associations, improving financial services, and transport and logistics
GHI was pleased to help shape these policy recommendations that will be made to leaders of the Western Hemisphere at the April 2015 Summit. The future of the Americas is indeed bright and we must harness the great potential of Latin American agriculture to become the next global breadbasket!