“The role of family farmers is essential for the future of the planet”

The Conference was inaugurated with a message from Pope Francis stressing the remarkable work of family farmers. 

The VIII. Global Conference on Family Farming: Sustainability of Our Planet, organised by the World Rural Forum, gathers more than 200 participants from 55 countries from Tuesday, March 19 to Thursday, March 21 to discuss the challenges faced by family farming worldwide as well as to develop proposals to ensure the economic, social and environmental sustainability of the planet.

At the opening, Martín Uriarte, president of the World Rural Forum, recalled that it has been five years since the UN declared the Decade of Family Farming 2019-2028. However, the pandemic has decreased public policy support for the sector in all countries, and he urged that it should become a priority again.

“Family farmers must be treasured and cared for as guardians of food sustainability,” he noted. Uriarte explained that global production is based on four crops – wheat, rice, maize and soya -, resulting in ” diversity loss, which makes food systems more vulnerable to pests and diseases”.

Family farming must respond to these and other challenges that will be the focus of the Conference, namely generational renewal, as the average age of the sector is 55 years old, as well as the role of women, as they only manage 15 per cent of the farms.

Present at the opening of the Conference were also Ramiro González, Deputy General of Álava; María Begoña García Bernal, Secretary of State for Agriculture and Food, and Bittor Oroz, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Policy of the Basque Government.

The first day featured interventions by Álvaro Lario, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Marcela Villarreal, Director of the Division of Alliances and Partnerships with the United Nations (FAO), who addressed the leading role of family farming in global sustainability.

Basque farmer unions have demonstrated their support for family farming by turning to the Europa Palace in Vitoria-Gasteiz, the venue of the Conference. The President of the World Rural Forum, Martín Uriarte, was there to meet with them and received their demands.


The opening was marked by a message from Pope Francis addressed to the president of the WRF, Martín Uriarte, and to the more than 35 million farmers represented by the member organisations of the WRF, which he entrusted to the bishop of Vitoria, Juan Carlos Elizalde, to read. “The families dedicated to agriculture are to be praised for the solidarity of their work, as well as for the respectful and delicate way in which they cultivate the land,” he stressed.

Pope Francis also “encourages” young people because “the real revolution for the future of food begins by training the young”, and calls to empowering rural women, who “represent a compass for families and a strong support for developing the economy”.


The Conference continued on the first day with a round table to evaluate the first 5 years of implementation of the UN Decade of Family Farming, as well as its accomplishments and challenges.

The programme continued on Tuesday with the National Family Farming Committees: key actors in policy dialogue and Economic sustainability of family farming, value chains and partnerships.

The event in Vitoria-Gasteiz will last until Thursday 21, when the Lehendakari/President of the Basque Government, Iñigo Urkullu, and the Minister of Agriculture, Luis Planas, will conclude the Conference.

The Conference is broadcast live on Link to streaming

Photos of the Conference:  link a Flickr