SfL to Bring Farmer Voices to upcoming UNEA-6

January 26, 2024

From February 26 to March 1, Solutions from the Land will make its first appearance at the world’s highest-level event for environmental issues. SfL farmer and Co-Chair A.G. Kawamura along with four additional team members will be in attendance at the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-6) in Kenya, representing farmers, ranchers, foresters, fishers and agriculture value-chain partners from around the world.

“Environmental Resolutions and action plans decided upon at the assembly will lead to voluntary or in some cases mandatory next steps for UN members,” says Kawamura who also serves as a co-chair of the Farmers Major Group (FMG) for the assembly. “My main focus at UNEA-6 is to provide a voice for Farmers across the globe on topics such as water, biodiversity and biosecurity. In addition, our SfL team is laying plans to host multiple side events to further educate attendees on climate-smart practices such as circular bio-economy systems and the impact of invasive species on agriculture. We currently have side event proposals in motion.”

The United Nations Environment Programme hosts a UNEA every other year with the intent of providing substantive support and capacity-building for the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Farmers Major Group is one of nine Civil Society MG’s that will introduce input in chosen resolutions discussed at the assembly.

Both Kawamura and his fellow co-chair Paul Temple must gather a consensus among various farmers constituency groups involved in UNEA-6, to ensure the collective majority is represented accurately. Resolutions are pre-determined by United Nations Environmental Programme leaders, but Major Group Facilitators bring forth the suggestions, questions or concerns that help determine the proposed plans’ ultimate outcomes.

“I think it’s important to note, Paul and I are active, engaged farmers,” says Kawamura, a 3rd generation urban and peri-urban fruit and vegetable grower from California. “While it is not a pre-requisite to be a farmer in this position, it helps to know that those who have their boots on the ground can provide their first-hand knowledge in these roles as well.”

Kawamura says SfL’s involvement will be similar to previous COPs; team members will create new partnerships, connect with previous stakeholders and provide expertise during the invitation-only assembly. SfL team members are vested in discussions surrounding circular bioeconomy systems, biofuels, invasive species, plastics, water quality and nitrogen fertilizer, adds Kawamura.

According to SfL President Ernie Shea, the team is currently constructing a viable strategy for guiding UNEP’s adoption of a balanced multiple-systems approach to managing agricultural lands through the lens of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The team is “assembling reports, studies, data and other supporting materials documenting the positive role and contributions of technology, precision agriculture, circular bioeconomy systems and other sustainable intensification programs.”

At the beginning of February, UNEP leadership will notify major groups of which side events will take place on-site. Once the SfL team knows more they will provide attendees with further information. They will also equip those at home with live streaming links for side events when video is available.

“There’s an expectation that these side events will cross over into other Major Facilitating Groups such as Children & Youth or Women because at the end of the day, everyone is working toward the same goal of creating a better world for current and future generations to come,” Kawamura says. “Cross over on side events allow for further collaboration and innovation outside of our normal silos – something SfL has strived for since our inception. Our involvement at UNEA is the next piece in our path toward more intentional and more strategic engagement with agriculture, civil society and our constituency.”

SfL looks forward to proactively participating in UNEP forums demonstrating proven and pragmatic system approaches that produce multiple benefit outcomes and collaborations during their first attendance at the Assembly. Shea says they will “widely share their work with national and global agricultural organizations for use in their communication outreach efforts as well.” Team members will send out Assembly updates via Facebook, X, LinkedIn and email.

“Solutions from the Land will continue to keep Farmers and value chain partners well informed so that everyone involved in this mission to better integrate climate-smart agriculture practices into global conversations, policies and recommendations can have an opportunity to contribute to the discussions as well – whether they’re with us in Kenya or not,” Shea concludes. “Ultimately, we hope our participation will lead to balanced, 21st Century climate-smart systems and outcome approaches for managing agricultural landscapes in nature-positive ways to meet the United Nations’ SDGs.”

For more information or to understand how you can contribute to SfL’s UNEA-6 efforts, contact Ernie Shea, SfL President at eshea@solutionsfromtheland.org, or A.G. Kawamura, SfL Co-Chair at agkawa@me.com.

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