Environmental sustainability was one of the key messages from a conference held in Brussels on the reform of the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) titled: The Cap – Have Your Say.
EU Farm Commissioner Phil Hogan said he was “pleased to see two-thirds of farmers were willing to do more for climate and the environment”. There were three main takeaway messages from the event. Hogan said EU citizens want:
- Access to high-quality food;
- Farmers to contribute to environmental protection and sustainability goals; and
- More investment in rural areas to guarantee the viability of rural communities.
According to Brussels-based agriculture publication, AgraFacts, these comments echoed the overall theme from the conference that post-2021, the reformed CAP “must reconcile the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainability, while farmers must play a more prominent role in contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.
The conference was held to a packed auditorium, with more than 300 people turned away – highlighting the seriousness of this reform and the degree of interest among stakeholders and consumers. The European Commission received more than 322,900 submissions in its public consultation of the CAP reform, contrasting around 5,700 received in the July 2010 ‘public debate’. While comments ranged from a wide range of stakeholders, AgraFacts points out that once the generated responses from NGOs, such as Living Land, are discounted the number of comments was closer to 58,520 replies.
A report on the findings of the responses delivered at the conference showed that there was broad agreement that the CAP should do more to boost investment, employment and mitigating and adapting to climate change. The report also points out the “tension” between economic development & environmental sustainability and the future challenge on how to reach the two objectives simultaneously.