2023 has undoubtedly been a challenging year for Family Farming, which had to face multiple impacts from interrelated crises —the climate and energy crises, as well as the effects of wars. Food production systems and the livelihoods of family farming have been dramatically affected by extreme weather events such as droughts, storms and weather patterns changes, jeopardizing the future of food and generating a significant increase in hunger and poverty. Meanwhile, family farming demonstrated its fundamental role in addressing such challenges by contributing to food system resilience and maintaining biodiversity, among others.

In this complex context, the WRF has taken a firm step forward by positioning family farming as a key transformative agent to address the enormous challenges we face. I would like to highlight some significant advances, undoubtedly the result of the efforts of millions of farmers represented in the family farming organisations that are part of the WRF, together with other organisations that support the sector and that are themselves members of the WRF network.

The United Nations Decade for Family Farming 2019-2028 (UNDFF) has made important advances as countries such as Argentina have approved National Action Plans for the Decade, while others, such as Uruguay, Chile, Brazil and Moldova, have made progress in their development. Additionally, major exchanges and debates have also been held in support of the Decade. However, these are certainly steps that need to be reinforced in order to address the current complex situation of family farming.

The WRF has reached significant milestones in terms of recognition, such as i) obtaining observer status in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); ii) formalizing the Economic Partnership Framework Agreement with the European Union (EU) and being selected as one of the 57 members of the EU Dialogue Platform between Civil Society and Local Authorities; and iii) signing the Collaboration Agreement with FAO for the upcoming three years, which demonstrates the broad and deep collaboration history between the two entities.

In terms of the financial stability of the organisation, the WRF, in partnership with its organisations, has taken a great leap forward, mainly due the successful approval of the important project with the EU. This milestone will undoubtedly strengthen leadership, improve capacity and increase the presence of the WRF in key spaces for family farming.

Following the mid-term review of the WRF Strategic Plan 2020-2025, three new strategic action lines were introduced, whose development also deserves special mention.

Firstly, the WRF has implemented a comprehensive roadmap for integrating family farming into climate negotiations. This roadmap includes: i) producing a report on Climate Finance; ii) participating in the launch of an international communication campaign; iii) initiating trainings on climate change; iv) involving a large WRF delegation from 5 continents and organizing various events at COP28, and iv) partnering with various actors (Global Strategic Communications Network – GSCC, Meridian Institute, etc.).

On the other hand, empowering women and rural young leadership stand as priorities of the WRF, which were also included as strategic lines. Both gained ground throughout 2023, with the celebration of the II. International Meeting of Rural Women within the framework of the Marcha das Margaridas 2023, as well as the hard work of the Family Farming Youth Core Group, which included exchanges, defining priorities and participating in various international events.

In terms of partnerships, the WRF maintains a solid collaboration history with FAO, which in 2023 resulted in the implementation of 5 Letters of Agreement: with IFAD, the International Land Coalition (ILC), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the Specialised Meeting on Family Farming of MERCOSUR (REAF), etc. The collaboration with IFAD resulted in signing an agreement (to be executed between 2024 and 2026) for the UNDFF implementation, thus facilitating the work of the National Family Farming Committees (CNAF) and ensuring the support of the WRF to the organisation of the Farmers’ Forum (February 2024). Additionally, IFAD will also contribute to the VIII Global Conference on Family Farming. In turn, the WRF has branched out to other consumer organisations, youth, and other UN agencies in order to build strong partnerships to address current challenges in more ambitiously. This extensive Family Farming agenda encompasses a more comprehensive vision and engages a greater number of actors in fostering resilient, inclusive and sustainable development.

I can only highlight the enormous collective effort of the WRF in organising our VIII Global Conference, which will be held in March 2024 in Vitoria-Gasteiz, under the title “Family Farming: Sustainability of Our Planet”. A high-level event that will undoubtedly serve to assess the progress of the UNDFF and generate the alliances and commitments required to advance the extensive Family Farming agenda.

In short, the year 2023 closes with great advances in the institutionalisation of the WRF.

The WRF faces the year 2024 full of enormous responsibility and commitment to contribute to overcoming the complex situation of family farming and to unleash its transformative potential in building sustainable food systems for the people and the planet.

Laura Lorenzo

Director of the WRF Secretary