Climate change in Agriculture: embark upon the cause and effect for food security and solution to revert the warming world through Adaptation-Mitigation options

Agriculture as a cause of Climate change

According to intergovernmental panel on climate change, Agriculture is one of the world’s largest industries; agricultural land alone covers 40-50% of the world’s land surface. The sector accounts for roughly 14% of global greenhouse gas per year that makes agriculture is a major contributor to climate change (IPCC 2007).

According to the Stern Review, in 2000, about 35% of greenhouse gas emissions came from non-energy emissions: 14% were nitrous oxide and methane from agriculture. Total global greenhouse gas contribution of agriculture from both direct and indirect sources reached up to 32%; the most prominent sources includes: land conversion to agriculture, nitrous oxide released from soils, methane from cattle and enteric fermentation (flatulence-produced methane emissions), biomass burning, rice production, manure, fertilizer production, irrigation, farm machinery and pesticide production. About 74% of total agricultural related greenhouse gas emissions originate in developing countries.

Livestock sector expansion also contributed to overgrazing, land degradation, and an important driver of deforestation in addition to its methane and nitrous oxide emissions from ruminant digestion and manure management, and is the largest global source of methane emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions footprint of livestock sector varies considerably among production systems, regions, and commodities, mainly due to variations in the quality of feed, the feed conversion efficiencies of different animal species and impacts on deforestation and land degradation. Besides the livestock production, the waterlogged and warm soils of rice paddies make rice production system a large emitter of methane from agriculture.

Effect of climate change in agriculture

The cumulative impact of climate will have economic consequences and potentially large implications for the wellbeing and sustainable development of rural populations.  Fundamental to this are a wide range of cross-sectorial impacts affecting health, water and energy resources, ecosystems, and land use. The impacts of climate change to agriculture over the next 50 to 100 years may include:

  • Changing spatial and inter-temporal variability in stream flows, onset of rain days, and dry spells (Strzepek and McCluskey, 2006 ),
  • More frequent floods and droughts, with greater erosion rates from more intense rainfall events and flooding (Agoumi, 2003),
  • Increased crop water requirements from higher temperatures, reduced precipitation and increased evaporation, with likely more negative impacts on dryland than irrigated agricultural systems (Dinar et al., 2009),
  • Positive and negative production and net yield changes for key crops including maize, wheat, and rice, among others, over different time periods, resulting in changes in crop and management choices (e.g. irrigation, crop type) (Kurukulasuriya and Mendelsohn, 2006 ),
  • Potentially lengthened growing seasons and production benefits to irrigated and dryland systems under mild climate scenarios (Thornton et al., 2006 ),
  • Increased heat and water stress on livestock, with possible shifts from agriculture towards livestock management (i.e. stock increases) under increased temperatures with a different mix of more heat resistant species than today and possible benefits to small farms (Seo and Mendelsohn, 2006 ; Dinar et al., 2009).
  • Higher temperatures in arid and semi-arid regions will likely depress crop yields and shorten the growing season due to longer periods of excessive heat.

Climate change will not equally affect all countries and regions, even if Africa represents only 3.6% of emissions, the (IPPC, 2007) report highlighted that Africa will be one of the continents that will be hard hit by the impact of climate change due to an increased temperature and water scarcity. The report pointed out that there is “very high confidence” that agricultural production and food security in many African countries will be severely affect by climate change and climate variability.

Climate change will likely have the biggest impact in equatorial regions such as sub-Saharan Africa. This means that countries already struggling with food security are likely to find they struggle still harder in the future. World Bank (2009) study that focuses on developing countries estimates that without offsetting innovations, climate change will ultimately cause a decrease in annual GDP of 4% in Africa. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warns that an increase in average global temperatures of just two to four degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels could reduce crop yields by 15-35 percent in Africa and western Asia, and by 25-35 percent in the Middle East. While an increase of two degrees alone could potentially cause the extinction of millions of domestic and wild species that have a biodiversity and food security potentials.

Adaptation of Agriculture from climate change

The vulnerability of a system depends on its exposure and sensitivity to climate changes, and on its ability to manage these changes (IPCC, 2001). Three intuitive approaches appear to have informed the prioritization of adaptation programs of actions and strategies to climate change, namely: a) social vulnerability approach (addressing underlying social vulnerability); b) resilience approach (managing for enhanced ecosystem resilience); and c) targeted adaptation approach (targeting adaptation actions to specific climate change risks).

Climate change adaptation enhanced by altering exposure, reducing sensitivity of the system to climate change impacts and increasing the adaptive capacity of the system while simultaneously explicitly recognizing sector specific consequences. With this respect, adaptation in the agricultural sector seen in terms of both short-term and long-term actions. The provision of crop and livestock insurance, social safety nets, new irrigation schemes and local management strategies, as well as research and development of stress resistant crop varieties form the core of short-term responses. Long-term responses include re-designing irrigation systems, developing land management systems and raising finances to sustain adoption of those systems.

Safety nets are likely to become increasingly important in the context of climate change as increased incidence of widely covariate risks will require the coverage and financing that these sources may provide. Some of the options for adapting agriculture to climate change have related cost for Agricultural research, Irrigation efficiency, Irrigation expansion and development of Roads.

Improving the use of climate science data for agricultural planning can reduce the uncertainties generated by climate change, improve early warning systems for drought, flood, pest and disease incidence and thus increase the capacity of farmers and agricultural planners to allocate resources effectively and reduce risks. Better use of assessing risks and vulnerability and then developing the safety nets and insurance products as an effective response is already being piloted in some areas with fairly positive results (Barrett et al. 2007).

Mitigation of Agriculture for climate change

Climate change mitigation refers to an anthropogenic intervention to reduce the sources or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases (FAO, 2011d). In other words, mitigation means taking action to reduce the causes of climate change by limiting the amount of heat trapping gases that emitted into the Earth’s atmosphere. Agriculture could increasing carbon sinks, as well as reducing emissions per unit of agricultural product. The agricultural sector: high mitigation potential with strong adaptation and sustainable development co-benefits.

Mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture sector includes reduction of emissions, avoided the emissions and creating sinks that can remove emissions. Lower rates of agricultural expansion in natural habitats, agro-forestry, treating of degraded lands, reduction or using more efficient use of nitrogenous inputs, better management of manure, and use of feed that increases livestock digestive efficiency are some of the major mitigation options in agriculture.

soil carbon sequestration have nearly 90% of agriculture’s climate change mitigation potential could be realized, if carbon markets could introduce to “ provide strong incentives for public and private carbon funds in developed countries to buy agriculture-related emission reductions from developing countries. Soil carbon sequestration by improved land use and management can increase and maintain greater soil Carbon stocks (i.e., sequester C) include a variety of practices that either increase the amount of C added to soils (as plant residues and manure) and/or reduce the relative rate of CO2 released through soil respiration. Soil carbon sequestration practices include: 1) improved grazing land management, 2) improved crop rotations, 3) improved fallows, 4) residue management, 5) reduced tillage, 6) organic matter amendments, 7) restoration of degraded lands, 8) rewetting of cultivated organic soils and (9 Agroforestry. More over using improved nutrient management could increase the plant uptake efficiency of applied nitrogen, reduce N2O emissions, while contributing to soil C sequestration. Agroforestry systems tend to sequester much greater quantities of carbon than agricultural systems without trees. Planting trees in agricultural lands is relatively efficient and cost effective compared to other mitigation strategies, and provides a range of co-benefits important for improved farm family livelihoods and climate change adaptation.

Livestock improvements brought about by more research on ruminant animals, storage and capture technologies for manure and conversion of emissions into biogas are additional contributions that agriculture can make towards mitigating climate change. The anaerobic digestion of manure stored as a liquid or slurry can lower methane emissions and produce useful energy, while the composting solid manures can lower emissions and produce useful organic amendments for soils. To reach the full potential of agriculture in climate change mitigation, transformations are needed in both commercial and subsistence agricultural systems, but with significant differences in priorities and capacity.

In commercial systems, increasing efficiency and reducing emissions, as well as other negative environmental impacts, benefits by increasing carbon sinks, as well as reducing emissions per unit of agricultural product. The sustainable intensification of production, especially in developing countries, can ensure food security and contribute to mitigating climate change by reducing deforestation and the encroachment of agriculture into natural ecosystems. Mitigation of climate change through agriculture is an environmental service that smallholders can provide and is often synergistic with improvements to agricultural productivity and stability.

Climate smart agriculture as a way forward

Climate-smart agriculture is a practice that sustainably increases productivity, resilience (adaptation), reduces/removes GHGs (mitigation), and enhances achievement of national food security and development goals. Efficiency, resilience, adaptive capacity and mitigation potential of the production systems can be enhanced through improving its various components. The future of agricultural production relies on both designing new ways to adapt to the likely consequences of climate change, as well as changing agricultural practices to mitigate the cli-mate damage that current practices cause, all without undermining food security, rural development and livelihoods.

Major transformation of the agriculture sector will be necessary and this will require institutional and policy support. Better-aligned policy approaches across agricultural, environmental and financial boundaries and innovative institutional arrangements to promote their implementation is crucial. Enabling policy environment to promote climate-smart smallholder agricultural transformations is greater coherence, coordination and integration between climate change, agricultural development and food security policy processes.

In farm decision-making and practices, the adaptation and mitigation measures are often the same agricultural practices that also benefit farmers by increasing productivity and resilience. However, there may be important trade-offs too. In these situations, where climate-smart practices entail costs for the farmers and these changes are deemed to bring substantial benefits to the society, the farmers facing extra costs should be compensated through different payment mechanisms, rewarding these farmers for the environmental service they provide. With this prospect climate change creates new financing requirements both in terms of amounts and financial flows associated with needed investments, which will require innovative institutional solutions. In synthesizing potential synergies between adaptation and mitigation in smallholder agricultural transitions.

Scientists Sequence the Wheat Genome in Breakthrough for Global Food Security

ScienceDaily (Nov. 28, 2012) — U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists working as part of an international team have completed a “shotgun sequencing” of the wheat genome, a paper published in the journal Nature reported today. The achievement is expected to increase wheat yields, help feed the world and speed up development of wheat varieties with enhanced nutritional value.

“By unlocking the genetic secrets of wheat, this study and others like it give us the molecular tools necessary to improve wheat traits and allow our farmers to produce yields sufficient to feed growing populations in the United States and overseas,” said Catherine Woteki, USDA’s Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics. “Genetics provides us with important methods that not only increase yields, but also address the ever-changing threats agriculture faces from natural pests, crop diseases and changing climates.”

Olin Anderson and Yong Gu, scientists with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) based at the agency’s Western Regional Research Center in Albany, Calif., played instrumental roles in the sequencing effort, along with Naxin Huo, a post-doctoral researcher working in Gu’s laboratory. All three are co-authors of the Nature paper.

ARS is USDA’s principal intramural scientific research agency, and the work supports the USDA goal of ensuring global food security.

As the world’s largest agricultural research institute, USDA is focused on reducing global hunger by increasing global cooperation and collaboration on research strategies and their implementation. For example, through the U.S. government’s Feed the Future initative, USDA and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are coordinating their research portfolio with ongoing work of other donors, multilateral institutions, and government and non-government entities at the country level to effectively improve agricultural productivity, reduce food insecurity and generate economic opportunity.

Grown on more land area than any other commercial crop, wheat is the world’s most important staple food, and its improvement has vast implications for global food security. The work to complete the shotgun sequencing of the wheat genome will help to improve programs on breeding and adaptation in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa for wheat crops that could be drought tolerant and resistant to weeds, pests and diseases.

ARS is one of nine institutions with researchers who contributed to the study. The lead authors are based in the United Kingdom and were funded by the British-based Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. Funding also was provided by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). NIFA focuses on investing in research, education and extension programs to help solve critical issues impacting people’s daily lives.

The study represents the most detailed examination to date of the DNA that makes up the wheat genome, a crop domesticated thousands of years ago. The wheat genome is five times the size of the human genome, giving it a complexity that makes it difficult to study. The researchers used the whole genome shotgun sequencing approach, which essentially breaks up the genome into smaller, more workable segments for analysis and then pieces them together.

Another international team of scientists is working on a long-term project expected to result in more detailed sequencing results of the wheat genome in the years ahead. But the results published today shed light on wheat’s DNA in a way that will help breeders develop hardier varieties by linking genes to key traits, such as disease resistance and drought tolerance.

Wheat evolved from three ancient grasses, and the ARS team, working closely with partners at University of California, Davis, mapped the genome of one of those three parents, Aegilops tauschii. That mapping, funded in part by the National Science Foundation, was instrumental in the study. It allowed researchers to identify the origins of many of the genes found in modern-day wheat, a key step in linking genes to traits and developing markers for use in breeding new varieties.

Wheat growers face numerous challenges each year. Acidity in the soil can make wheat difficult to grow in some areas. Stem rust, a fungal disease, can wipe out entire crops, and a particularly aggressive form of stem rust has developed the ability to knock out genetic resistance in many popular wheat varieties and is causing major losses overseas.

USDA scientists have conducted similar genomic studies that have helped to increase the productivity of dairy operations, enhance cattle breeding and improve varieties of a number of other crops, including tomatoes, corn and soybeans. In 2010, Anderson and Gu, along with other ARS staff, were part of a team that published a paper in Nature detailing the sequencing of Brachypodium distachyon, a model plant used to study wheat, barley and biofuel crops.

Recent international research collaborations have been critical to meet challenges such as combating wheat rust and increasing wheat productivity, fighting aflatoxin contamination in corn, and sequencing genomes of important crops.

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Bananas could replace potatoes in warming world

Climate change could lead to crops from the banana family becoming a critical food source for millions of people, a new report says.

Researchers from the CGIAR agricultural partnership say the fruit might replace potatoes in some developing countries.

Cassava and the little-known cowpea plant could be much more important food crops as temperatures rise.

People will have to adapt to new and varied menus as traditional crops struggle, say the authors.

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“Start Quote

When the farmers see the problems they are having with production, they really are willing to shift”

Bruce CampbellCCAFS

Responding to a request from the United Nations’ committee on world food security, a group of experts in the field looked at the projected effects of climate change on 22 of the world’s most important agricultural commodities.

Blooming bananas

They predict that the world’s three biggest crops in terms of calories provided – maize, rice and wheat – will decrease in many developing countries.

They suggest that the potato, which grows best in cooler climates, could also suffer as temperatures increase and weather becomes more volatile.

The authors argue that these changes “could provide an opening for cultivating certain varieties of bananas” at higher altitudes, even in those places that currently grow potatoes.

Cassava Cassava could help meet food needs in South Asia

Dr Philip Thornton is one of those behind the report. He told BBC News that while bananas and plantains also have limiting factors, they may be a good substitute for potatoes in certain locations.

“It’s not necessarily a silver bullet, but there may be places where as temperatures increase, bananas might be one option that small-holders could start to look at.”

The report describes wheat as the world’s most important plant-derived protein and calorie source.

But according to this research, wheat will face a difficult future in the developing world, where higher prices for cotton, maize and soybeans have pushed wheat to marginal land, making it more vulnerable to stresses induced by climate change.

One substitute, especially in South Asia, could be cassava – which is known to be tolerant to a range of climate stresses.

But how easy will it be to get people to adjust to new crops and new diets?

Bruce Campbell is programme director of the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security research group (CCAFS) which co-ordinates work among leading institutions around the world. He told BBC News that the types of changes that will happen in the future have already happened in the past.

Protein under pressure

“Two decades ago there was almost no rice consumption in certain areas of Africa, now there is. People have changed because of the pricing: it’s easier to get, it’s easier to cook. I think those sort of shifts do occur and I think they will in future.”

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About bananas

  • There are hundreds of types of banana plants but not all actually produce fruit
  • They grow on plants that are giant herbs and are part of the Musaceae family
  • Plantains are starchy like a potato, not sweet like a regular banana
  • Organised banana plantations have been traced back to China in 200 AD
  • Alexander the Great brought them back from India after his conquest in 327 BC
  • Over the centuries they have been called banna, ghana and funana

Source: Dole

One of the big concerns among researchers is how to tackle the need for protein in the diet. Soybeans are one of the most common sources but are very susceptible to temperature changes.

The scientists say that the cowpea, which is known in sub-Saharan Africa as the “poor man’s meat” is drought-tolerant and prefers warmer weather and could be a reasonable alternative to soya. The vines of the cowpea can also be used as a feed for livestock.

In some countries, including Nigeria and Niger, farmers have already moved away from cotton production to growing cowpeas.

There are also likely to be developments in animal protein sources says the report, including a shift to smaller livestock.

“This is an example of something that’s happening already,” said Dr Campbell. “There’s been quite a shift from cattle keeping to goat keeping in southern Africa in face of droughts – when the farmers see the problems they are having with production, they really are willing to shift.

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CLIMATE CHANGE: African Farmers too hungry to Adapt

JOHANNESBURG, 14 September 2012 (IRIN) – Small farmers in the developing world who are going hungry for long periods of time – in some cases for up to half the year in Ethiopia’s Borana region – are failing to find ways to adapt to an increasingly erratic climate, a new survey has found.

The survey, which was conducted just ahead of the severe drought in East Africa in 2011, interviewed 700 households in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. It was designed to develop simple, comparable, cross-site household-level indicators to assess if small farmers were able to diversify, adapt and adopt new farming practices in the face of climate change.

The team of researchers involved in the survey found that households that were food secure for longer periods of time were able to experiment with new farming approaches and techniques, such as planting drought- or flood-tolerant varieties of seeds.

“When you are without food, you cannot really innovate,” said Patti Kristjanson, agricultural economist for the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), which led the study.” It stands to reason that households struggling to feed their families throughout the year are not in a good position to invest in new practices that include higher costs and risks.”

Not being able to adapt is contributing to food insecurity, she added. “So it is critical that we learn more about both the factors that enable and facilitate innovation, and how to lower the often hidden costs and barriers associated with changing agricultural practices.”

The survey attempted to find out what farmers had been doing for the past 10 years to cope with the changing climate. “We hope to go back for more – this is just a snapshot of what is happening on the ground,” said Kristjanson. Not enough research has been done to find out whether small producers, including pastoralists and fishing communities, were able to incorporate messages and programmes on adapting.

Niger study

The few studies completed reveal that small farmers could be facing a number of simultaneous challenges, driving them into food insecurity. Researchers from the Senegal-based Cheik Anta Diop University have been conducting surveys in Niger’s food insecure Maradi District, where small farmers depend on increasingly erratic rains for their crops.

In 2007, the researchers found that 50 percent of farmers said they were forced to consume their entire produce within three months. In previous years as a back-up they had grown vegetables with the help of water drawn from the Goulbi river. But as rain became scarce and with the construction of an upstream dam in Nigeria, the river, which used to flow for at least six months after the rainy season, was now dry for most of the year.

CCAFS study – mixed results

The CCAFS study of average small farmers in the Horn and East Africa showed relatively poor results in terms of the take up of a more sustainable form of agriculture better able to cope with erratic weather patterns:

 

– Only 25 percent of households have begun using local manure or compost (good for the soil) rather than expensive chemical fertilizers which can have negative environmental impacts; 23 percent are now mulching;
– Only 16 percent of the surveyed households introduced improved soil management techniques such as terracing which reduce water and soil losses;
– Only 10 percent have begun trying to store or manage agricultural water;
– Only 34 percent have reduced livestock herd sizes but 48 percent are managing their resources better, for example by growing crops for animal feed.

More positively, the study indicated that:

– 55 percent of households have taken up at least one shorter-cycle crop variety, and 56 percent adopted at least one drought-tolerant variety;
– 50 percent of households are planting trees on their farms, a practice known as agroforestry. These trees help stabilize eroding landscapes, increase water and soil quality, and provide yields of fruit, tea, coffee, oil, fodder, medicinal and energy products;
-50 percent introduced intercropping – alternating different plants on the same plot; – 25 percent started rotating their crops in the last decade.

“These changes can help farmers adjust to changing weather patterns; and better diets can also lower methane emissions [from animals] per kilogram of meat and milk produced,” said CCAFS in a statement.

CCAFS researchers acknowledge that climate change is only one of several key driving forces behind the changes seen and “it is very difficult to disentangle the relative importance of different driving forces.”

They noted that the changes made by households in the past 10 years “tend to be marginal, rather than transformational, and the lack of uptake of well-tested and widely-disseminated soil, water and land management practices is cause for concern.”

In a statement accompanying the findings, Bruce Campbell, the CCAFS programme director, said: “Farmers need more than words. They need innovative strategies that will help them adapt to the increased demand brought on by climate change and other factors. We need to redouble efforts to ensure not just their current and future food security but the rest of the world’s as well.”

Campbell highlighted Rio+20 as a prime example of this trend. “The final text for Rio+20 recognized the connections between sustainable agriculture, smallholder farmers and food security, but lacked concrete commitments or a plan of action. We urge national leaders to embrace these challenges and safeguard global food security by helping farmers face a changing climate.”

Strength in numbers

A publication released earlier this year by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) entitled Good Practices in Building Innovative Rural Institutions to Increase Food Security, used 35 case studies to show how institutions such as farmer cooperatives had innovated in groups to benefit poor farmers who lack the services and support to innovate.

“For instance, input shops in Niger have enabled small producers to develop effective local input markets by grouping input demand and supplying them in quantities and types that are adapted specifically to their needs and limited financial capacities,” said the publication.

Kenya’s African leafy vegetable farmers have in some cases organized themselves into groups to be able to enter into contractual arrangements with supermarkets and ensure food quantity, quality and timely delivery arrangements.

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Olympics Hunger Summit To Unite World Leaders, Athletes To Tackle Issue

 

 

 

 

 

There’s one final Olympics event few may know about.

 

On Sunday, British Prime Minister David Cameron will host a hunger summit at 10 Downing Street with world leaders focused on tackling childhood hunger.

“We are thinking about the next medal, but there are millions of children around the world thinking, ‘Am I going to get my next meal?'” Cameron told ITV1’s Daybreak.

Gold medalist Mo Farah, who was born in Somalia, will also attend. And athletes such as David Beckham, a Unicef ambassador, have already been to Downing Street to campaign about hunger issues.

Earlier this year, nonprofit Save the Children urged Cameron to hold a “world hunger summit” during the London Olympics following a report in which the charity revealed the high rates of child malnutrition around the world.

The charity cited rising food prices and a lack of global investment in tackling malnutrition as roadblocks to fighting the issue.

 

“Every hour of every day, 300 children die because of malnutrition, often simply because they don’t have access to the basic, nutritious foods that we take for granted in rich countries,” Justin Forsyth, the chief executive of Save the Children, told the Press Association. “By acting on hunger and malnutrition, world leaders have the chance to change this for millions of children across the world.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following Cameron’s May announcement of the summit, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also released a statement calling upon the forthcoming summit to focus on investments in agriculture:

 

 

“We hope this event will build on the momentum generated by President Barack Obama’s increased commitment to nutrition and smallholder farmer productivity announced at the G8 last week. By making long-term investments in agriculture, the private sector, governments, and the wider development community can help reduce hunger and poverty, and build self-sufficiency for millions of poor farming families.”

With numerous world leaders, charities and athletes present, Cameron has said it’s necessary to use the Olympics to spotlight hunger issues.

Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretarytold BBC Radio 4’s Today program that Britain — along with Brazil, the 2016 Olympics host city, see a long-term role for the games to fight child hunger.

 

“It’s a chance for Britain, together with the next hosts of the Olympics –- the Brazilians -– to put a real flag in the sand about the importance of tackling malnutrition in the future.”

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Africa: Rio+20 Must Commit to Transforming the Global Food System

ANALYSIS

On June 20-22, world leaders and thousands of others from around the globe will gather for the Rio+20 Earth Summit. Their charge is to forge high-level political agreement for how nations of the world will work together to reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection.

Twenty years after the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, the world is confronted by food insecurity and climate change, and sustainable agriculture is more important than ever to addressing these challenges. It is time to find new solutions for how we produce, share and consume the food, fibre and bioenergy that sustains our societies and provides livelihoods.

To be effective, global policy dialogues need a solid scientific evidence basis. This is why the independent Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change was convened in 2011. In March, my Commission colleagues and I released a report, Achieving Food Security in the Face of Climate Change, which proposes specific policy responses to these global challenges and highlights opportunities under the mandates of the Rio+20 Earth Summit, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Group of 20 (G20) nations.

The Commission has also created an animated video to illustrate why and how humanity must transform the way food is produced, distributed and consumed in response to changes in climate, global population, eating patterns and the environment.

The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) has produced a short photofilm that illustrates ways people around the world are already taking actions that align with the Commission’s recommendations.

Over the coming days, venues all over the city of Rio de Janeiro will host a wide range of events that will bring together people working on food security and environmental sustainability. Between June 11-15, I will be joining hundreds of scientists at the ICSU Forum on Science, addressing the issue of “What is the state of the Earth system?”, in which I reiterate the key role of interdisciplinary science and innovation in the transition to sustainable development, a green economy and poverty eradication.

My Commission colleague, Dr Adrian Fernandez, also addresses food security issues during the same event. With partners from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), he will also be part of an official Rio+20 side event entitled “Feeding the World: Sustainable Agriculture and Innovation” on June 16.

On June 18, the 4th Agriculture and Rural Development Day will focus on “Lessons in Sustainable Landscapes and Livelihoods”. Learning events will explore concrete cases of success that could translate into a thorough transformation of the global food system, and afternoon sessions will focus on science for a food-secure future.

A sustainable food system will only be possible if we make very real progress toward integration of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, supported by robust systems for knowledge generation and extension. This requires changes in policy, finance, agriculture and development aid. Governments, international institutions, investors, agricultural producers, consumers, food companies and researchers all have a role to play. Critical opportunities at the Rio+20 Earth Summit must not be missed.

Dr Carlos Nobre is National Secretary for the Secretariat of Policies and Programmes in Research and Development at Brazil’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. CCAFS is co-organising Agriculture and Rural Development Day on June 18, 2012, ahead of the Rio+20 summit.

Read more at AlertNet Climate, the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s daily news 

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