In 2016, the Platform raised its profile in the international fora on agriculture and rural development during the first year of SDG implementation as called for in its newly approved Strategic Plan 2016-2020. One example is the featuring of the Global Donor Platform in the communiqué of the G7 agricultural ministers informing the G7 Ise-Shima Leaders’ Declaration in May 2016. In the communiqué, the ministers underscored the convening role of the Platform as open discussion and exchange space and highlighted the need for higher level political engagement and coordination for sustainable agriculture and rural development to achieve Agenda 2030.
The ultimate goal of the Platform for the year 2016 was to understand the implications of Agenda 2030 on rural development and find the place for agriculture in the process of rapid urbanisation and rural transformation. Rural areas are not only directly exposed to economic and environmental impacts, they are also directly and indirectly affected by urbanisation and migration, by technological development and changes of consumer patterns. As part of the Strategic Initiative Agenda 2030 for rural transformation of the Platform, the members gathered around the focal topic on rural transformation. The universality and multi layering of the SDGs correspond with the complexity of drivers and dynamics influencing this process and ultimately rural livelihoods. The international community as a whole agreed that a higher level of coordination, coherence and collaboration amongst donor countries will be required to support the rural areas through the transition they are undergoing and to direct this transition to a positive outcome.
It became clear quite quickly that the steering of this process will be an unbearable task for one single sector. And although agriculture will remain at the centre of political and economic activities in rural areas, members realised that they need to look at the sector through a different lens, by for example reaching the intended outcomes by linking agriculture to sustainable and inclusive business models and markets and by actively establishing cooperation pathways with businesses and private sector as a whole.
There was a broad concurrence that much further analysis and exchange will be needed to change the sectoral thinking in development assistance and establish new approaches that match the new dimensions of rural development in the Agenda 2030 era. How holistic can donors and IFIs be in their programming following the call of the SDGs for more comprehensive and sustainable approaches to development? Where is the red thread leading through the SDGs? The complexity of development work has changed and it is certainly not one agency or government that can deal with the situation alone.