In the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the international community set out to transform our world by tackling multiple challenges through holistic and synergistic mechanisms to ensure well‐being, economic prosperity, and environmental protection. Achieving the sustainable development goals requires a commitment toward integrated and complimentary planning and policies, with the implementation of one goal contributing to the fulfillment of other goals. In this regard, we are offering a retreat in Vermont focusing on cultivation, marketing and policy for organic and regenerative agriculture and fostering sustainable and resilient communities. To this end, alternative energy practices, which compliment these respective goals, will also be presented.
While no one definition explains organic agriculture, it is defined as an “agricultural production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people.” It is considered holistic because it integrates ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles for local conditions, rather than rely on inputs with adverse effects. Further, organic agriculture takes into consideration other UN goals relating to the environment, sustainability and the family, found in resolutions for: “The Future We Want” declared at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio, 2012; the UN Decade for Biodiversity 2011-2020; the UN Decade of Nutrition 2016-2025; the UN Decade for Family Farming 2019-2028; and the UN Decade for Restoration of the Eco-system 2021-2030. To this end, it contributes to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s land use goals for the mitigation of climate change.
The Mission of Palestine along with the Permanent Mission of Thailand invites UN permanent missions to attend a two-day retreat on the link of organic agriculture and building sustainable and resilient communities. This retreat is being organized by the Grace Initiative Global as well as other co-sponsors. The retreat is taking place in Vermont because it is a model for development in rural areas, particularly for small land holding and family farming. This is particularly relevant considering that most of the world’s 570 million farms are small and family-run; and, family farms operate about 75% of the world’s agricultural land.
To this end, we will organize discussions and on-site visits of family run farms as well as presentations from academics and the private sector. As Vermont is the national leader for the highest percentage of organic agriculture, the retreat will offer diplomats the opportunity to learn about the efficiency and profitability of small land holding farms; sustainable agriculture; private sector involvement in organic farming; regenerative farming and soil management; and, small land pasture management. In addition, we will explore: the certification process; the application of alternative energy; the community level support and decision-making; the financial support for farmers, especially for new farmers and access to small land holdings; and, the conservation for farm land. Mostly, we will explore organic agriculture as a way of life for sustainable and resilient communities, and as a culture of harmony with each other and our common planet.
We envisage the 2019 retreat as a sequel to the first retreat on Sustainable and Resilient Communities and Sufficiency Economy Philosophy, co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Thailand, the chair of the G77 in 2016. In this regard, the retreat will honour the venerable H.E. Dr. Virachai Plasai, former permanent representative of the Thai mission to the UN and former Thai ambassador to the United States. Ambassador Plasai admired Vermont sustainability practices, finding that “Vermont’s success in creating a green and resilient community through the application of many sustainable practices for the community and by the community.” To this end, the retreat benefits from joint support by the Permanent Mission of Thailand, Chair of G77 in 2016, and the Mission of Palestine to the UN, Chair of Group of 77 of 2019. The proposed dates are 29-31 August 2019.
UN, The Sustainable Development Agenda. Accessed at https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/development-agenda/.
Prajal Pradhan, Luis Costa, Diego Rybski, et al. A Systematic Study of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Interactions, Earth Future (30 Nov. 2017).
UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Topics: Land. Accessed at https://unfccc.int/topics/land-use/the-big-picture/introduction-to-land-use.
Sarah K. Lowder, Jakob Skoet, Terri Raney. The Number, Size, and Distribution of Farms, Smallholder Farms, and Family Farms Worldwide. World Development. 87: (2016). 16.
H.E. Virachai Plasai, “Foreword: Vermont’s Sustainability Practices,” in Retreat Report of the Sustainability and Resilient Communities and the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy, 30 September to 1 October 2016.