Our Common Future under Climate Change

By Katy Wiilson

our common futureAt the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) in Paris this December, governments are expected to agree a new climate change agreement, setting the climate governance and cooperation regime for years to come. This agreement is planned to come into effect in 2020. Ahead of COP 21, the marathon process of negotiations has been bogged down in discussions of terminology and have, so far, failed to build expectations that we can expect any significant change.  After a meeting of climate change negotiators in Bonn in June resulted in little progress (only cutting down an 89 page draft text by four pages), co-chairs of the negotiation have now been given the task of making changes to the draft, which will be presented when they meet again later in July.

Ahead of the next round of negotiations, however, we will hear from the science community at the “Our Common Future under Climate Change” conference in Paris from the 7th to 10th July. The international scientific community will come together, assess and present existing knowledge, explore innovative solutions to the challenges and help prepare for the new climate agreement. [Read more…]

What we’ve been reading this week

This week’s summary on the news stories, reports and blogs that have grabbed our attention. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these articles.

Africa Conference on Land Grabs 2014, PAEPARD

A Meta-Analysis of the Impacts of Genetically Modified Crops, PLOS One

Climate change a “threat multiplier” for farming-dependent states-analysis, Thomson Reuters Foundation

10 billion people for dinner | Nina Fedoroff | TEDxCERN, YouTube

Biotechnology: Against the grain, Nature

Climate smart, sustainable agriculture, AgriPulse

Thirty percent of world’s food wasted, new online platform seeks savings, Thomson Reuters Foundation

How To Eat For The Climate, Forbes

mNutrition – how mobile phones are improving nutrition, The Guardian

South Africa: Five Diseases, One Vaccine – a Boost for Emerging Livestock Farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa, All Africa

New project to boost yam production in West Africa, IITA

IPCC preparing ‘most important’ document on climate change, BBC

Resilience for food and nutrition security, IFPRI [Read more…]

What we’ve been reading this week

This week’s summary on the news stories, reports and blogs that have grabbed our attention. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these articles.

Plant scientists urge Europe to stop blocking GM trials on political grounds, EurActiv

Borlaug Dialogue Highlights, World Food Prize

The Love Life of Plants, Gates Notes

‘Silent revolution’ of biotechnology food will surpass GMO products: Greenpeace report, Raw Story

World losing 2,000 hectares of farm soil daily to salt damage: UN University, EurekAlert

‘Climate-Smart Agriculture’: the Emperor’s new clothes?, CIDSE

Can sustainable intensification be the answer to better seeds, soil and family farming?, ICRISAT

World’s Largest Ever GMO Safety Study Set for London Launch, Sustainable Pulse

Even it Up: Big global campaign on inequality launched today, From Poverty to Power

The GMO debate: 5 things to stop arguing, The Washington Post [Read more…]

What we’ve been reading this week

This week’s summary on the news stories, reports and blogs that have grabbed our attention. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these articles.

Back agriculture to get the most out of aid to Africa, SciDev.Net

No-till agriculture may not bring hoped-for boost in global crop yields, study finds, UC Davis

Family farms produce 80 percent of world’s food, speculators seek land, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Can We Feed the World in 2050? A Scoping Paper to Assess the Evidence, GDAE

Principles for responsible agriculture and food investments are approved, FAO

Oxfam response to UN Committee on World Food Security Endorsement of Principles, Oxfam

Why ‘climate-smart agriculture’ isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, The Guardian

The Race Is On to Find Organic Pesticides, The Wall Street Journal [Read more…]

What we’ve been reading this week

This week’s summary on the news stories, reports and blogs that have grabbed our attention. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these articles.

Here’s Why We Haven’t Quite Figured Out How to Feed Billions More People, National Geographic

How Much of World’s Greenhouse-Gas Emissions Come From Agriculture?, The Wall Street Journal

Developing countries blast rich-world farm subsidies at Rome talks, Reuters

Unprecedented Case Filed at International Criminal Court Proposes Land Grabbing in Cambodia as a Crime Against Humanity, Huffington Post

Feeding the world. The ultimate first-world conceit, Triple Crisis

Nobel laureates call for a revolutionary shift in how humans use resources, The Guardian

When Can A Big Storm Or Drought Be Blamed On Climate Change?, NPR

A sign of things to come? Examining four major climate-related disasters, 2010 – 2013, and their impacts on food security, Oxfam

4 problems GMO labeling won’t solve, Grist [Read more…]

Advocating strategies for agricultural transformation: FAO and AfDB

ID-100207881On the 29th September 2014 two events laid out global and African strategies for agriculture and food security. At its 24th session, the Committee on Agriculture (COAG), one of FAO’s Governing Bodies providing overall guidance on policies relating to agriculture, livestock, food safety, nutrition, rural development and natural resource management, met to discuss a wide range of issues, including family farming and sustainable agriculture.

Opening the event, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, emphasised the broad range of options needed to transform global food systems and that a paradigm shift is needed to make agriculture sustainable. In particular a departure from “an input intensive model”. We need to reduce the use of agricultural inputs such as water and fertilizer and look to new solutions. Such approaches as agroecology, climate-smart agriculture and biotechnology were used as examples of alternatives to the current system but that their use should be based on evidence, science and local context. The FAO’s director-general made the urgency of making agriculture more sustainable for the long term clear, noting that food production needs to grow by 60% by 2050 to meet the demands of a population of 9 billion people.

From some camps the conference was a step in the right direction towards embracing agroecology as too was the recent FAO International Symposium on Agroecology for Food and Nutrition Security. Indeed about 70 scientists and scholars of sustainable agriculture and food systems sent an open letter praising the FAO for convening the event. Seen as both a science and a social movement, agroecology is gaining momentum, now helped by support from the FAO, in particular by their moving away from the one-size-fits-all approach to agriculture and agricultural research and support for the scientific evidence behind agroecology. The letter called for the FAO, its member states and the international community to launch a UN system-wide initiative on agroecology as the main strategy for addressing climate change and building resilience. The letter closes with a hope that the FAO will consider this proposal at the forthcoming Committee on World Food Security meeting on the 13th to 18th October 2014.

Danilo Medina, president of the Dominican Republic, also spoke at COAG 2014 of food as a universal right and of the dire need to transform the rural economy. The Dominican Republic has been particularly successful in reducing hunger from over 34% in 1990 to under 15% today. Since the current government came into power rural poverty has also been reduced 9%, linked to the doubling of the volume of agricultural loans and re-design of loan instruments to benefit smallholders, and the use of surprise visits to farming communities by officials in order to increase understanding and engage with smallholders, in particular around forming cooperatives. As noted by Graziano da Silva, this type of political commitment at the highest levels of government is critical to achieving national food security. [Read more…]

What we’ve been reading this week

This week’s summary on the news stories, reports and blogs that have grabbed our attention. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these articles.

Agricultural science is the backbone of sustainable development, Thomson Reuters Foundation

New Generation of GM Crops Puts Agriculture in a ‘Crisis Situation’, Wired

Amped-up plants, Nature

Moral Hazard? ‘Mega’ public-private partnerships in African agriculture, Oxfam

The African Landscapes Action Plan, Landscapes for People, Food and Nature

Closing the Gap for Post-2015: New Ambition for Acute Malnutrition, Huffington Post

UN: only small farmers and agroecology can feed the world, The Ecologist

The Time Has Come for Agroecology, IPS

Is FAO opening a window for ecological farming?, Greenpeace

How to equip farmers for climate change, CNN

Climate-smart agriculture: balancing trade-offs in food systems and ecosystems, CCAFS

Commodities: Cereal excess, Financial Times [Read more…]