Issued by the First Global Sustainable Rice Conference, 4‐5 October 2017, UN Conference Centre, UN Building, Bangkok, Thailand
We, delegates meeting in Bangkok at the First Global Sustainable Rice Conference from 4‐5 October 2017;
Considering the critical role of rice in global food security, grown by 150 million smallholders, mostly in Asia, and serving as the main staple for 70% of the world’s 815 million food‐insecure;
Acknowledging the need to boost global rice production to meet projected global supply shortfall by 2050, when demand will reach about 600 million metric tonnes, leading to an increasing annual requirement of 100 million metric tons of rice for every 1 billion people added to the global population;
Concerned over the extreme and increasing vulnerability of the livelihoods of millions of smallholder rice producers to the impacts of climate change;
Recognizing the major contributions of rice to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions in the agriculture sector of producing countries, amounting to an estimated 500 million tons of emissions CO2e/year, representing up to 50% of agricultural emissions in some rice‐producing countries and 10% of all agriculture sector emissions worldwide;
Mindful of the extreme vulnerability of rice to the impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels in deltaic regions, extreme weather events, temperature rise, salinity, droughts and flooding, with forecasts projecting yield losses and rising prices as a direct result of climate change by 2050;
Acknowledging the high social and environmental footprint of rice in terms of resource use (water, agrochemicals, labour, energy) and their impacts on food safety, outflows of rural labour, gender inequality, rural community health and the environment (including environmental contamination, human health impacts from over‐use of agrochemicals, which also impact on biodiversity and provision of ecosystem goods and services), with rice accounting for 30‐40% of the world’s irrigation water, and 13% of global nitrogen fertilizer use;
Welcoming the availability of proven climate‐smart technologies and tools to address climate change impacts, enhance resilience and boost water and fertilizer use efficiency in rice‐based cropping systems, including low‐cost technologies and farm management practices to eliminate stubble burning and reduce post‐harvest losses;
Appreciating the relevance and value of the SRP Standard for Sustainable Rice Cultivation, together with its associated Performance Indicators, as an objective science‐based approach to defining and monitoring sustainability across any rice agro‐ecosystem, as an accepted basis for certification for sustainable sourcing and as a normative basis for policy‐ making by the public sector to move the entire rice sector towards adoption of more sustainable production;
The First Global Sustainable Rice Conference (4‐5 October 2017) highlighted the need for urgent high‐level collaborative action to reduce the social, environmental and carbon footprint of rice systems, enhance resource efficiency, and protect livelihoods and biodiversity in rice landscapes and communities.
We therefore call for collective multi‐stakeholder action at local, regional and global levels to foster adoption of climate‐smart sustainable best practices to enhance long‐term productivity of rice landscapes despite a shrinking resource base, while protecting the environment, mitigating climate change impacts and safeguarding smallholder livelihoods and gender rights, as follows:
1. We call upon governments in rice producing countries to prioritize social and environmental sustainability of rice value chains within their respective national policies, regulatory frameworks, strategies and programmes, as an integral component of national efforts to deliver on national commitments under Agenda 2030 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and in doing so, to align farm support mechanisms to promote more responsible, efficient and need‐based use of farm inputs in line with recognized best practices, and incentivize adoption of proven climate change adaptation and mitigation measures in order to increase the adaptive capacity of rice farmers and conserve rural rice‐based landscapes;
2. We further call upon governments to ensure that rice sector policies and mechanisms support delivery of targets under SDG#5 on the economic empowerment of women engaged in the rice sector; especially to ensure equal access for women farmers to land, inputs, services and rice value chains.
3. We call upon governments and development partners to prioritize action to address emissions from irrigated rice fields, as a contribution to meeting national climate change mitigation targets in rice‐producing countries, as established by respective Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), and to give higher priority to mitigating emissions from rice at the forthcoming COP23 negotiations;
4. We call upon governments, international development partners, bilateral donors and the private sector to build on existing initiatives to forge public‐private sector cooperation in investment and in peoples' participation to provide incentives to upscale adoption of climate‐smart sustainable best practice, to drive policy and market reforms, to generate, adapt and transfer proven technologies, to invest in quality services for smallholder rice farmers and education for youth, and to ensure an equity‐ and gender‐sensitive approach to rice sector transformation, in support of national commitments, obligations and targets under Agenda 2030 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals;
5. We call upon especially the leading private actors in the rice sector to commit by 2025 to 100% fair and sustainable sourcing of rice products throughout their global supply chains to support smallholder farmers, based on the SRP Standard, and ensuring transparent and accountable reporting of impacts and benefits for people and planet.
Bangkok, 5 October 2017
About the First Global Sustainable Rice Conference
The First Global Sustainable Rice Conference and Exhibition was convened by UN Environment and the International Rice Research Institute under the auspices of the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP). The conference brought together 66 distinguished speakers and 300 high‐level stakeholders from 30 countries, representing a broad spectrum of rice sector actors and development professionals, including senior‐level representatives from UN and international agencies, governments, private sector supply chain actors, research institutions, farmer groups, equipment and service providers and civil society organizations from around the world.
The conference aimed to raise awareness of the critical role of rice in food security, poverty alleviation and climate change in the coming 25 years, to understand the sustainability challenges implicit in covering a projected 25% shortfall in global production by 2050, and to update participants on proven innovative solutions.
A total of 66 high‐level speakers deliberated on the need to refocus national rice sectors and global trade towards sustainable climate‐smart best practices throughout rice value chains. As the first global sustainable rice conference, it is recognized that the discussions and experiences have focused highly on Asia. Future development in the rice sector in Africa and elsewhere should adopt learnings from Asia and elsewhere to avoid similar pitfalls.
The discussions, held in 6 parallel thematic tracks, led to a series of recommendations for action directed at all stakeholder groups. These recommendations were adopted by consensus by all participants as the “Sustainable Rice Platform Bangkok Declaration on Sustainable Rice”, recognizing the urgent need for collaborative investment in innovative partnerships to drive transformation of the global rice sector towards a low‐carbon, sustainable future.
The recommendations articulated herein will be further communicated to the wider stakeholder community as a contribution to the forthcoming COP23 climate change talks in Bonn, Germany (6‐17 November 2017) as well as to meeting our collective obligations under the 2030 Agenda and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
About the Sustainable Rice Platform
The Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) is a multi‐stakeholder partnership to promote resource efficiency and sustainability, both on‐farm and throughout rice value chains. The alliance works with its 77 institutional partners in the public and private sectors as well as international organizations, NGOs and the international research community to promote climate‐smart best practice among rice smallholders in developing countries. In 2015 the world’s first Standard for Sustainable Rice Cultivation was launched, together with a set of Performance Indicators to enable monitoring of progress and impact. The launch triggered commitments by a number of private sector actors to achieve 100% sustainable sourcing within their global corporate supply chains by 2020. Revision of the Standard recently began with a 60‐day online public consultation.