He said the link between agriculture and natural resources is unbreakable because for over 25 per cent of the world's population, farming is the main source of income and it accounts for 65 per cent of the jobs in developing countries.
He said that with a steady increase of food demand, with already nearly one billion people undernourished, farmers have a difficult mission.
"As policy makers, we have the responsibility to offer farmers solutions and support for sustainable agriculture," commissioner Ciolos said.
"I believe that sustainable farming can make a positive difference."
He added that sustainable farming should aim at:
- Increasing productivity without affecting the capacity of soil and water to regenerate and to be maintained in good conditions
- producing high quality, safe, healthy food
- generating enough income for farms to keep them going
- delivering ecosystem services (preserve valuable habitats, biodiversity, genes)
- improving quality of life in rural areas
- strengthening the economy
- contributing to a balanced territorial development
- ensuring animal welfare
The commissioner said that the Common Agricultural Policy is helping farmers towards sustainable agriculture by helping them support the environment.
"The current EU farm policy is well on its way towards a more sustainable agriculture. But not yet there," he said.
"The proposed reform of the Common Agricultural Policy put forward last year in October, will go the extra mile."
He added: "Setting agricultural production onto a sustainable growth path will be possible only with major research and innovation efforts, to which the EU Commission is committed.
"The application of sustainable agricultural practices by all farmers in the EU is a long-term investment in a sustainable competitiveness.
"The competitiveness of our agriculture has to internalise these aspects of sustainability. We can no longer build at world's level a competiveness which does not take into account, in the production costs, the sustainability aspects."
Commissioner Ciolos added that global food security is more likely to come from increasing production and improving infrastructures in Africa and the developing world rather than pushing production up where farming is already efficient.
But he said that increasing agricultural productivity in these countries cannot be done through a quick fix solution.
He said it was necessary to foster a sharing of knowledge and innovation, affordable technologies, including those for efficient irrigation and to reuse of treated waste water as well as technologies for water harvesting and storage.
And the Commissioner also called for action to cut food waste.
"Sustainable agriculture is not a luxury but a necessity. It concerns us all, whether we live in Europe, or on any other place on Earth," Commissioner Ciolos said.