By: Pascal Liu, FAO
Bananas are the world’s most exported fresh fruit both in volume and value, totaling over USD 7 billion per year. They are an essential source of income and employment for hundreds of thousands of rural households in developing countries. However, agrochemical-intensive production on large-scale plantations along with declining producer prices has given rise to many environmental and social challenges. These can only be properly addressed if all the sector’s stakeholders collaborate actively.
A series of international conferences gathering key players from the banana industry, including from the public sector and civil society, forged a consensus on the need to establish a permanent forum to discuss key issues. As a result, the World Banana Forum (WBF) was launched at a conference organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome in 2009 with the participation of some 150 stakeholders from the whole banana sector worldwide. The goal of the WBF is to promote the worldwide adoption of best practices for sustainable banana production and trade by providing a permanent space where the different stakeholders of the banana sector jointly seek solutions to their common challenges through collaboration. In December 2012, the Steering Committee of the WBF held its 5th meeting at FAO headquarters in Rome.
The WBF has formed 3 specialized working groups to implement practical activities which address the most urgent environmental, social and economic challenges. The Working Groups identify and analyze best practices, test them through pilot projects, produce recommendations, guidance documents and will establish a best practices library open to everyone. Their activities aim to promote sustainable management of natural resources; mitigation and adaptation to climate change and environmental impact management; respect for human rights (labor rights, health and safety at work); gender equity and decent work; fair distribution of value along the supply chain and knowledge sharing on best practices. The WBF’s outputs are made available for free to the whole banana sector worldwide in three languages (English, French and Spanish).
The partnership is a true collaboration with specific roles assigned to various participants. The FAO Trade and Markets Division facilitates the WBF and acts as the Forum’s secretariat. As an intergovernmental organization, the FAO is trusted by all stakeholders, who appreciate its professionalism, independence and technical expertise and it gives the WBF the objectivity and credibility that are prerequisites for its success. Participating companies and non-governmental organizations provide the financing for its core operations. However, as these annual contributions are not sufficient to produce real change at a global level, additional contributions are regularly sought from governments and institutional donors to ensure that the WBF can deliver public goods which contribute to long-term economic and social development. Any stakeholder from the banana sector or with an interest in it can request to join and their application will be reviewed by the Secretariat.
For more information, please contact: Annamaria Pastore, Liaison Officer, Private Sector Team Leader, Office of Communications, Partnerships and Advocacy (OCP), Partnerships with Civil Society and Private Sector Branch (OCPP), FAO.