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The Berlin Charter: Putting rural development on the G20 agenda

Last month an international group of high-level experts came together for a conference on rural development in Berlin. At the One World No Hunger conference, 150 young people from G20 and African countries also shared their stories and ideas about how to improve the future of the rural world.

The document the participants endorsed, The Berlin Charter, highlights global trends, challenges and opportunities for rural development. At the end of the conference it was handed to German Development Minister Dr. Gerd Müller to take to the G20 meeting in Hamburg in July. The 17-page document was drafted with contributions from the Malabo Montpellier Panel co-chair Professor Joachim von Braun, and Panel members Dr. Agnes Kalibata and Nachilala Nkombo, and was discussed during the first day plenary sessions.

The Berlin Charter

The Berlin Charter being handed to German Development Minister Dr. Gerd Müller to take to the G20.

In a globalising world, rural development requires rethinking. If the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals of ending all forms of hunger and poverty are to be realised, the groundwork must be laid now to revitalise rural economies, create jobs, ensure equitable growth and protect local environments. Members of the G20 need to find ways to build dynamic people-centred economies: agriculture must be at the heart of this endeavour.

When rural areas are well connected to markets and the potential of the agricultural sector is harnessed, demand for food in both rural and urban areas can be met. A revitalised agricultural system would see value added to products, create much-needed jobs especially for young people and women, and boost regional trade.

However, there are mounting challenges: the global population is projected to hit 9.5 billion by 2050, 2 billion people currently suffer from malnutrition, and 766 million are still living in poverty; meanwhile a bulging youth population lacks the skills needed to get jobs. These issues affect rural areas disproportionately, especially in Africa, where governments have “systematically neglected the development of rural areas.” It is critical that governments  invest in young people and provide them with prospects. They must see rural areas as the source of local and regional food security and resource them adequately, using social protection measures to ensure no one is left behind.

To meet these challenges effectively the Berlin Charter calls on national governments, development partners, financial institutions, people in rural areas - especially the young - to take action that helps realise the potential of smallholder farmers. It calls for stakeholders to ensure farmers’ access to markets, services and finance, build value-adding processing in rural areas, and introduce risk reduction measures. Education and media institutions can help improve the social image of farmers. Nana Adjoa Sifa Amponsah, founder of Guzakuza, an organisation working to help young women create businesses in rural areas said in a side Panel [KA1] “We need to make the rural and agriculture sector attractive and give opportunities to young entrepreneurs”.

The aim of the Charter is to provide a forward-looking, modern and innovative development vision of the rural world designed to motivate decision-makers to step up and do their utmost to support it. Sustainable development cannot be achieved without sustainable rural development. The Berlin Charter seeks to inspire global leaders at the G20 summit and beyond to set out a plan about how nations, with a focus on those most left behind, are going to get there.

Visit our flickr page for photos from the conference.  

The opinions represented in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of individual Malabo Montpellier Panel members and their organisations.

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