Agricultural Solutions to Climate Change Gaining Momentum

November 12, 2021

Solutions from the Land (SfL) leaders have been on the ground in Glasgow, Scotland, over the last two weeks, leading discussions among global negotiators and other delegates around agriculture’s central role in providing solutions for climate change, as well as other intertwined global challenges like food and nutrition security, clean water, biodiversity and improved livelihoods.

While the final outcomes of the Conference of Parties (COP) 26 are still unknown, we do know that SfL’s pragmatic, outcome-based solution pathways are resonating among – and being embraced by – countries, farmer organizations, businesses, conservation advocates and environmental organizations across the globe. So too is a growing recognition globally that the climate commitments and goals enshrined in the Paris Accord in 2015 cannot be met without agriculture.

Over the course of the past two weeks, SfL delegates have been emphasizing and reinforcing among delegates the tenets laid out in our Guiding Principles to enable food systems to support attainment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The principles represent a foundation upon which SfL will, over the next 18 months, endeavor to build and facilitate a coalition that will design and forge consensus on a roadmap to enable global agriculture, in all its forms and sizes, to deliver high-value, near- and short-term solutions to climate challenges. Building on the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture, SfL and other farmer organizations will work to reframe how the world views agriculture – shifting the focus from agricultural problems to agricultural solutions.

SfL’s guiding principles for climate action include, among others, the fundamental requirement  that farmers must be at the center of all discussions and decision-making; that there is no “silver bullet” solution for enhancing the resilience of agriculture; that any solutions provided must be system-wide in their application as growers respond to continuous changes in climate’s impacts; and that retaining profitability for the producer is a paramount objective of any agreement.

Falling within the spirit of the SfL guiding principle that calls for mobilizing innovation was the official launch last week in Glasgow of the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate). Introduced by the United States and the United Arab Emirates, the initiative is designed to increase investment in climate-smart agriculture and food system innovation over five years.

Proponents of AIM for Climate, which has drawn support by midweek from an additional 32 nations and scores of agricultural, business, academic and civic organizations, including SfL, say the initiative aims to address the climate crisis by uniting participants to significantly increase and accelerate investment in and support for innovation and technology and other advances in climate-smart agriculture systems and practices over the next five years. AIM for Climate has already begun to bear fruit, garnering an early boost in investment of $4 billion.

The initiative is designed to drive more rapid and transformative climate action in the agricultural sector, optimizing agriculture’s role as part of the solution to address the climate crisis, build resilience to its impacts, and create co-benefits of climate action. Project sponsors, recognize the wide range of participants that will be necessary to achieve its goal and are seeking to draw on diverse knowledge, experiences and cultures.

Much of the what the SfL contingent has promoted in Glasgow comes from the 21st Century Agriculture Renaissance: Solutions from the Land, a report issued earlier this year that lays out a vision for an agricultural reawakening in this century. Written by those who work the land with the advice of a phalanx of nationally and globally renowned experts, the document covers virtually every aspect of agriculture and offers a model for constructing sustainable and resilient systems across working landscapes. These are systems that can counter the growing, interlinked challenges to global food security, nutrition, rural livelihoods, health and climate. Our food system is immense, and much work needs to be done to preserve its integrity. We urge stakeholders to reach out to policy makers and make them aware of this 21st Century vision for the sector and the pathways for achieving it. Tell them not to be distracted by those who would advance an “agriculture is broken” agenda and simplistically call for an overhaul of the sector without understanding the interdependent functions that make up the world’s food, feed, fiber, energy and ecosystem services production platforms. As framed in the SDG’s, our world is facing multiple daunting challenges, but the good news is that sustainably managed farms, ranches and forests are an underutilized asset for solutions. Let’s show the world what agriculture can accomplish with the correct enabling polices, partnerships and markets that reward producers for all of the goods and services they produce. Onward!

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An Agricultural Renaissance, led by innovative and entrepreneurial farmers, ranchers and foresters constructing sustainable, profitable and resilient systems that lay the foundation for a world of abundance on many scales capable of producing nutritious food, feed, fiber, clean energy, healthy ecosystems, quality livelihoods, and strong rural economies.