By: CropLife International

Last month, CropLife International attended the 4th session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi, Kenya. Policy makers, businesses and third-sector organizations from across the globe came together to discuss the environmental challenges our planet faces, and how sustainable innovation could be the key to solve these.

One area we’re passionate about is improving soil health. We joined the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, the International Fertilizer Association and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) at a side event to talk about the importance of healthy soils to ensure food safety, food security and human health.

CropLife International’s Director of International Regulatory Affairs for Crop Protection, Christoph Neumann, spoke about how new innovations in plant science can help tackle pests and diseases, while also ensuring soil health.

He also spoke about the importance of no-till agriculture – the practice of planting a new crop directly into the stubble of the previous crop, without ploughing. Intrinsic to the use of no-till is the use of herbicides to control weeds.

No-till helps to maintain soil structure, improve the ability of soil to retain water and every year it prevents the release of CO2 equivalent to removing every car from London for 5 years.

Christoph explained how investment in research on natural pesticides, known as biologicals, is another major area of innovation to help farmers deal with the pest threats to our harvests and crops.

We also joined the UN Environment Programme which urges more action on chemical management. We support UNEP’s new report, Global Chemical Outlook II (GCO II), which calls for efforts to ensure chemical management is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. You can read more about how the industry actively supports GCO-II here.

Partnerships was another major them at UNEA. I sat on a panel event organised by UNEP where we discussed the value of public private partnerships to deliver sustainable development. I spoke about how we have worked with the German development organisation, GIZ, and the Vietnam government to help thousands of rice farmers towards a better future.

As Joyce Msuya, Assistant Secretary General and Active Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, articulated: Standing still is falling behind”. We must all work together to come up with new solutions to fight today’s environmental challenges – through collaboration across businesses, governments, citizens, and NGOs.

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