|STATEMENT by HIS EXCELLENCY JIGMI Y. THINLEY PRIME MINISTER OF THE KINGDOM OF BHUTAN|
My dear friend and colleague, Dr Vandana Shiva. Esteemed members and delegates of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements.
I cannot express how delighted I am to be with you this morning here in Rio. Nor could I wish to begin my engagements in Rio in any other way! After all, the best way to launch any endeavour is to go back to basics. And nothing is more basic than food!
Indeed, your theme of the day ― Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture ― should be the starting point for everything that will happen here in Rio in the coming days. Without food security, there is no other kind of security. And without sustainable agriculture, there is no food security.
It really is as straightforward as that! Even military experts have written that the ability to feed one’s own people in a time of global instability, conflict, and insecurity is more important for national security than any army or military might. The United Nations itself has said (and I quote) “Fertile land with access to water has become a strategic asset.”
And yet, increasingly, we cannot take that most basic of all securities for granted. Globally, soils are eroding much faster than they can form. According to one Cornell University study, India and China are losing soil 40 times faster than it is replenished, with 30% of the world’s arable land rapidly becoming unproductive due to erosion. It takes 500 years for a single inch of topsoil to form, yet the planet is losing 24 billion tons of it every year.
But it is not only erosion and outright soil loss that threaten the world’s food security. Land is being severely degraded through nutrient depletion, biodiversity loss, acid rain, and soil compaction. Agricultural chemicals are polluting water sources. Insects are becoming resistant to pesticides. And, even as 1.3 billion of the world’s people will go to bed hungry tonight, more grain is now being fed to cattle and cars than to people.