Farming for the Future: Climate Change and Food Security.

The United Nations weather agency recently announced that the past five years have been the hottest on record, with increasing evidence showing that this is man-made climate change. Thus, the urgency for solutions increases here at COP22 where the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is meeting to discuss and improve climate change goals. One way to mitigate climate change is to decrease GHG emissions. One way to do this, is to revise global farming techniques. Today at the “On-farm renewables and sustainable intensification to address climate change and food security” side event, several farming experts discussed opportunities to improve farming and food security. The experts discussed the use of sustainable intensification and renewable energy, co-benefits and trade-offs around land use, deforestation concerns, and exploration of funding options. Most notable was the conversation about sustainable intensification agriculture. Sustainable intensification is the optimization of all provisioning, regulating and supporting agricultural production process. Thus, sustainable intensification projects for agriculture help maintain and enhance production through the promotion of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

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The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation (FAO) has several new programs to improve sustainable intensification. “LIBERATION: Linking Farmland Biodiversity to Ecosystem Services for Effective Ecofunctional Intensification,” which will help identify the relationship between semi-natural habitats and on-farm management and biodiversity. This project also seeks to connect farmland biodiversity to ecosystem services. It will do this by examining different strategies to mitigate ecosystem services. Another project, “Mainstreming Agro-biodiversity in Law PDR’s Agricultural Policies, Plans and Programmes (FSP),” which will provide farmers with the necessary incentives, capabilities and support institutional framework to converse agricultural biodiversity in Lao.

Intensification of crop and livestock production are also essential to mitigate climate change and provide food security. In order to keep up with demand for beef and leather, for example, 21 million ha of deforestation has occurred in the Brazilian Amazon between 2000 and 2015 to support cattle. Simon C. Hall, the manager of Tropical Forests and Agriculture National Wildlife Federation (NWF), spoke about insights from the Brazilian cattle sector. The NWF has been working in South America with local partners for over 20 years to eliminate tropical deforestation from agriculture supply chains. They hope to accelerate the development and implementation of intensification for sustainability because the implications of deforestation are staggering: longer dry season, reduced rainfall, increased temperature. Sustainable Intensification on the other hand (when coupled with zero deforestation commitments), will lead to: land sparing, reduced emissions from LUC, reduced losses of wildlife habitat and biodiversity, increased market access, preferential purchasing agreements, and reduced leakage and rebound effects.

These, and many other projects presented at this side event on addressing climate change through new farming techniques, provide examples on how we may work towards farming for a sustainable future.