With a long Thanksgiving holiday weekend fast approaching, we felt it was appropriate to take a moment and use this space to give thanks for the actions and developments that have helped SfL advance and build support for enabling policies, programs and partnerships needed to meet food security, economic development, climate change and conservation of biodiversity goals.
Of course, those developments do not happen without the untiring efforts of so many agriculture leaders who carry the SfL message around the world. An excellent example of that dynamic is our vision of a 21st Century Agriculture Renaissance: Solutions from the Land taking root in global and national forums where the future of agriculture is being shaped. This month, our farmer/rancher delegation members – SfL Co-Chairs A.G. Kawamura and Fred Yoder, along with Lois Wright Morton, Ray Gaesser and Pat and Sharon O’Toole – all interrupted their fall harvests to travel to the global climate negotiations (COP 26) in Glasgow, Scotland, to champion that 21st century vision and the climate smart agriculture solutions it requires.
There, the real-world experiences of these delegation members in managing agricultural landscapes of all shapes, forms and sizes resonated with climate negotiators, non-governmental organizations, business leaders and other climate actors who are awakening to the reality that the world cannot achieve its climate goals without new solution pathways.
While much of the media coverage of COP 26 was focused on the “climate crisis” and multitudes of highly organized special interest groups that were in Glasgow promoting their own agendas, SfL’s farmer leaders maintained a laser-like focus on the policy and partnership tracks underway behind the scenes. Our delegation found growing support for the Guiding Principles SfL has been advancing to enable food systems to support attainment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
Thanks to the momentum that is building at the state, national and global level to embrace an “all tools in the toolbox” approach to meet ongoing challenges faced by growers, there are now new private and public sector funding commitments to support agriculture and food systems solutions pathways. The $82 billion in climate smart agriculture investments contained in Build Back Better Act is one such example, and if adopted by the Congress, will provide the conservation technical and financial assistance, research, water management and infrastructure support producers need to sustainably intensify production, adapt and improve resilience and simultaneously reduce greenhouse gas emissions and deliver other high value ecosystem services. Another example is the more than $4 billion dollars that have been pledged to date by countries backing the recently announced Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM), co-led by the United States and the United Arab Emirates.
There is also growing recognition at the state level of the need to integrate climate action with biodiversity, water management, nutrition security and other SDG initiatives, creating a unique opportunity to advance SfL’s vision for how sustainably managed farms, ranches and woodlands can deliver high-value, near-term and scalable solutions to the “mega challenges” of our times. A review of work underway in the Florida Climate Smart Agriculture, Iowa Smart Agriculture and Delmarva Land and Litter Collaborative provides clear evidence of the transformational change in the way agricultural landscapes are being managed.
In support of these outcomes, SfL will next, in close collaboration with aligned partners, recruit, equip and mobilize an expanded, diverse cadre of farmer and rancher ambassadors and will deploy them into United Nations agencies and conventions, introducing and advocating for the adoption of guiding principles to shape agriculture and land use policy; 21st “Agricultural Renaissance” recommendations; and encourage the addition of new circular systems approaches as a valuable tool in enabling the agriculture sector to provide solutions to global sustainable development goals (SDGs).
SfL will also identify pathways of engagement for other farmer groups globally and will endeavor to collaborate with them to achieve shared goals. and other global goals. SfL stands proud and honored to have a seat at the table where the future of agriculture is. We are thankful for the efforts made by our farmer leaders to advance and build global support for pragmatic solutions from farms, ranches and forests, and we welcome partners with an interest in this ambitious mission to join us in this epic quest. Happy Thanksgiving America!