Global climate, energy and food issues are intensifying the challenges that family farmers face every day.

18 October 2022.- Representatives of family farming organisations from all 5 continents met in Derio (Bizkaia) to discuss “Family farming responses to today’s climate, energy and food challenges”. The meeting, held on 6 October, was organised by the World Rural Forum with the support of the Provincial Government of Bizkaia.

The meeting provided a space for dialogue between family farming leaders on the responses needed to address the current challenges of food systems and family farming and a reflection on the opportunities to be seized in a context of increasing attention to family farming and which is being developed in the United Nations Decade for Family Farming 2019-2028.

Martín Uriarte, President of the World Rural Forum opened the session together with Arantza Atutxa, Director General of Agriculture of the Provincial Government of Bizkaia who declared that “family farming is the most flexible and sustainable formula to face current crises”.

Through the strengthening of family farming and the alliance between the various actors, it is possible to progress simultaneously in the social, economic and environmental agendas“. Martin Uriarte, WRF

At the meeting, through the testimonies of family farming leaders, it was recognised that the various crises – which are overlapping and interrelated – that they face have a direct impact on the profitability and sustainability of family farming. These crises include, of course, the global climate crisis – with a major impact on production from the Pacific to Europe -, the economic crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. These global crises interact with the social, economic and environmental conditions specific to each region.

Representatives of PIFON (Pacific Islands Farmers’ Organisations Network), PROPAC (Central African Farmers’ Organisations), UPA (Spanish Small Farmers’ Union), UAGA (Alava Farmers’ Union) and ENBA Gipuzkoa (Farmers’ Union of the Basque Country) agreed in highlighting the resilience of family farming in the current crises, but also the need to establish public policies and measures to support family farmers to cope with them.

The exchange also noted that, although these crises are affecting all family farmers on different scales, they have a higher impact on women, who are the fundamental pillar of food security and rural economies.

In this sense, representatives of REFACOF (African Women’s Network for Community Forest Management), AFA (Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Development), PDRR (Regional Rural Dialogue Programme for Central America and the Dominican Republic) and ENBA Bizkaia participated by reaffirming that the role of women in family farming is especially relevant for food security and strengthening their enormous potential is key to face the impacts of the crises.

However, despite being those who suffer most from the consequences of these crises, it was emphasised that family farming is the cornerstone of development and a “global public good that must be strengthened” (in the words of Gabriel Ferrero, President of the Committee on World Food Security).


The meeting therefore highlighted the key role of family farming, at local and global level, in the transformation of agri-food systems to make them more sustainable, inclusive, resilient and viable, and the need to support family farmers by ensuring their economic sustainability and by counting on public policies and measures to support them in crisis situations.

It is necessary to reflect on the specific interventions that need to be designed to mitigate their impacts. Not only that, but it is also essential at this time to strengthen the resilience and development of family farmers by positioning them in the transformation and adaptation of agri-food systems.