Last week, policymakers, business leaders, and farmers gathered in Oslo at the second annual African Green Revolution Conference
to discuss ways to increase agricultural productivity in Africa
. The conference, inspired by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s July 2004 call to revolutionize African farming, and co-sponsored by two Norwegian public development organizations and two transnational companies, focused on how partnerships between the public and private sectors can offer valuable opportunities for agricultural development. Pedro Sanchez of Columbia University
’s Earth Institute cited Malawi
, which last year managed to turn a 40 percent grain deficit into a 25 percent surplus, as the first successful African Green Revolution country. Yet other attendees warned that this growth had been achieved partially at the expense of environmental degradation
—particularly deforestation—and urged agricultural development programs in Africa to strive for growth that will be sustainable in the long-term.
Also last week: Representatives from 158 countries met in Vienna for a weeklong UN conference on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The delegates agreed that industrialized nations should aim for a non-binding target of reducing their emissions by between 25 and 40 percent of 1990 levels by 2020. This goal is expected to serve as a loose framework for the major UN-sponsored international climate talks that will be held in Bali, Indonesia this December. At the conference, China rejected criticism that it has not been doing enough to combat climate change, arguing that its one-child policy, by preventing 300 million births over the past three decades, has also kept the country’s levels of greenhouse gas emissions significantly lower than they would have otherwise been.