Turning Talk Into Action

February 22, 2011

In January, I attended the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. This event, held in Davos, Switzerland, brings together some of the world’s most influential people: heads of state, chief executives, Nobel Prize winners, government officials, editors and columnists for leading publications. But in recent years, the conference’s high-powered participants have begun paying more attention to those with the least influence.

In January, I attended the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. This event, held in Davos, Switzerland, brings together some of the world’s most influential people: heads of state, chief executives, Nobel Prize winners, government officials, editors and columnists for leading publications. But in recent years, the conference’s high-powered participants have begun paying more attention to those with the least influence.

Five years ago, topics such as global public health, economic development and agricultural productivity were barely on the agenda at Davos. Today, it’s a different story. There are now a host of “continuing” themes, with working groups convening between Davos meetings and the same CEOs and other leaders taking the initiative in driving a particular development agenda. These groups are making commitments to action and following up with reports on their progress.

This year, for example, at what has become the annual convening of the working group on agriculture, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon helped launch the “New Vision for Agriculture.” This initiative is the product of a group that includes leaders of global companies, government officials and the heads of foundations and non-governmental organizations. The New Vision for Agriculture outlines commitments to push forward real collaboration between the public and private sectors to advance smallholder farmers in developing countries. The working group has laid the groundwork for this new vision through smaller pilot initiatives in the last few years. Talk has turned into action.

This, to me, is such a hopeful development. It shows that when decision-makers are aware of practical solutions to global challenges, they can help spark concerted and sustained action. The New Vision for Agriculture also serves as a validation of TechnoServe’s approach. It’s no coincidence that the report references our work in Nicaragua and Honduras. TechnoServe has more than four decades of experience in creating exactly the kind of market-based solutions that the New Vision for Agriculture envisions. We have long recognized that agriculture is the key to improving the lives of the developing world’s poor. And we know how to bring public and private stakeholders together to create real and lasting change for smallholder farmers.

In the coming years, I hope that the movers and shakers at Davos continue to pay attention to global development and the crucial importance of breaking the cycle of poverty for the world’s poorest people. TechnoServe will be a part of these discussions – and help drive action to create sustainable solutions.

 

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