CEJA, the European Council of Young Farmers, welcomes efforts to address climate change at the COP 21 Sustainable Innovation Forum but also calls for increased recognition of the contribution of young farmers to sustainability and climate change mitigation in the debate. CEJA also underlines the uniqueness of the agricultural sector and therefore the need for it to be treated accordingly.
CEJA welcomes talks on sustainable innovation in order to mitigate climate change and secure the future of global food production. However, agriculture cannot be treated like other sectors in the context of this debate. Different forms of transport, or different types of energy, can be used in order to achieve the same end-result; but the soil, seeds and animals grown and reared by farmers simply cannot be substituted by other alternatives. The world’s population needs to eat every day to survive; European young farmers are some of the most innovative, productive and sustainable food producers on the planet. Considering the European family farming model, this production occurs sustainably, optimising the use of land and natural resources provided by fertile European ground and safeguarding the landscape and countryside which is so appreciated by those who live among it. This model also ensures that age-old expertise and knowledge of the land is passed on to young farmers in a bid to ensure continued sustainable production for many generations to come, and is also complemented by innovations and the use of new technologies.
Many services provided by farmers are not widely recognised in the climate change debate, such as the carbon sink of Europe’s forests and permanent grasslands or water filtration services provided by cultivated soil. In this context, it is imperative to underline the important contribution to climate change mitigation already provided by European farmers despite the constraints of the industry they operate in. The contribution made by this sector should be fostered through targeted funding for innovation investments for young farmers, not penalised by burdens on producers which should instead be shared across all links of the food supply chain.
CEJA represents the political interests of around two million young farmers from across Europe. Its main objectives are to facilitate the installation of young farmers, to inform and to train them as well as act as a forum for communication and dialogue between them.