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AgriVision: USA will lead again, says Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan, the United Nations’ previous secretary-general, is convinced the United States will regain its leading moral position in the world as soon as the current administration’s term is over.

Kofi Annan addressed a full house of agricultural leaders this week at the biannual event AgriVision, organised by animal nutrition company Nutreco and held in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. He discussed current-day global challenges in agriculture and how to deal with these.

US withdrawal from Paris treaties

In a Q&A session he indicated he is disappointed about the fact that the United States had withdrawn from the Paris Climate Agreements. He said, “The current US government has chosen to pursue another road than to maintain its leading position that has been existing since the Second World War. I do believe that is temporary. I am convinced the United States will come back, if not in 4 years, it will be in 8 years.”

Kofi Annan during his speech at AgriVision 2017. Photo: Vincent ter Beek
Kofi Annan during his speech at AgriVision 2017. Photo: Vincent ter Beek

He continued, saying: “Climate change is a threat. It leads to conflict and migration because of environmental reasons. Just imagine that people in Country A get desperate because there’s a lack of clean water availability or perhaps because of the rising sea water. People migrate. Then Country B says: We cannot help you, we have our hands full dealing with our own problems.”

Good international relationships

Mr Annan emphasised the importance of good international relationships, adding: “I sense that the current US administration is not exactly interested in the fact that good relationships matter.”

He also said to be disappointed about the fact that the Trump administration has cut its budgets on the theme of birth control. The growth of the world population, e.g. in his own continent Africa – cannot become sustainable without a good family planning, he said.

Sustainable future agriculture production

In his presentation, he touched on six important factors for a sustainable agricultural development in the future.

• He pointed out the importance of helping smallholder farms to develop.

• In addition, he said, it is important to do agriculture with respect for biodiversity and natural resources.

• He emphasised food quality. He said higher food quality leads to higher levels of prosperity.

• Mr Annan’s 4th point referred to health and safety being essential when making agricultural produce. That would include producing with as low levels of antibiotics possible.

• His 5th point referred to developing agriculture being able to get people jobs and away from poverty.

• The last essential point was that national governments should be predictable, something that isn’t always the case in e.g. Africa. He said, “Healthy societies prosper with peace and by governments that respect the state of law and human rights.”

Ever since he left the United Nations, in late 2006, Mr Annan has invested his time and efforts in better governance and support for both people and countries to make the world a better and safer place. He does so through his own Kofi Annan Foundation.

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