United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development


Australian Mission to the United Nations E-mail australia@un.int
150 East 42nd Street, New York NY 10017-5612 Ph 212 - 351 6600 Fax 212 - 351 6610 www.AustraliaUN.org
Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting for the 17th Session of
the Commission on Sustainable Development
24 February 2009
Agricultural Session
Statement by Mr Dean Merrilees
Head of the Australian Delegation
(Check against delivery)
Madam Chair
I will keep my remarks brief and just highlight a few key points from our written
Like all countries, Australia is concerned about the impact on food security of the
recent global food and economic crises.
Australia views agricultural productivity growth and efficient markets as the main
contributors to food security for a growing population, poverty reduction and overall
development. As many of these issues are covered by the Rio Declaration on
Environment and Development and Agenda 21, it is timely for the Commission to
take a close interest in global agriculture today.
With access to arable land and water becoming more difficult, Australia believes
productivity gains will be the main source of growth and the primary means to satisfy
increased demand for food and agriculture products.
Global per capita agricultural production has increased since the 1980s, with much
of this growth occurring in developing countries. However, as we have heard,
agricultural performance has varied widely across different regions. Future
productivity gains are expected to be less easily achieved.
It is also clear that the international community must take strong steps to improve
global food security through appropriate policy settings, including efficient global
markets and more open international agricultural trade.
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Open markets allow farmers to respond to high food prices and can provide the
incentive to produce more.
The panel today has reminded us of the range of tools available to achieve a more
sustainable base for agricultural production. In Australia, farm practices and land
management practices continue to evolve to adjust to Australia?s environment while
still improving productivity.
Australia also recognises that climate change has the potential to adversely affect
agricultural production in many countries. As was suggested by our panel today,
Australia strongly supports integrating adaptation responses into agricultural and
natural resource management policies and programs.
Domestically, Australia?s research and development (R&D), innovation and
technology transfer system has played an important role in improving agricultural
productivity. Australia strategically invests in a system of R&D corporations to
improve natural resource management, on-farm production, and development and
adoption of new technology. A recent study found that every AU$1 invested in R&D
delivered AU$11 in total benefits to primary producers and the wider community.
In conclusion, Australia strongly supports efforts to liberalise trade in agriculture
and the role of research, development and innovation and technology transfer in
lifting agricultural productivity and sustainability, and to improve food security.
Australia also supports the integration of adaptation responses to climate change
into agricultural and natural resource management policies and programs.
Thank you