The need for farmer, rancher, forester input into global discussions and decisions on the future of agriculture has never been more apparent. Whether the topic is climate change, more resilient and productive food systems, markets for ecosystem services or circular/closed system approaches to managing agricultural lands, the future of global agriculture is being debated and mapped out in multiple UN platforms, and the voice of farmers, who manage much of the world’s terrestrial resource base, are underrepresented in these deliberations.
SfL’s farmer leaders know there are difficult challenges ahead, are eager to learn more about how to leverage whole system relationships and already are experimenting and embracing new strategies, technologies, and approaches to find solutions. One such example is circular systems, a topic that SfL leaders are exploring with its partners at the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.
The best hope for finding solutions and managing the changes SfL are encountering now and will deal with in the future is to better understand how complex systems work on many levels and develop innovative collaboration strategies that reinforce structures and behaviors that enable the achievement of shared objectives, such as the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) for 2030. These goals – an end to hunger, a restoration of water resources, enhancement of biodiversity, ensure livelihoods and a curbing of climate change, among others – conjure a bold vision that is possible only through an ambitious framework that brings humankind together to build a better world, with systematic international cooperation and strategic design to bring human systems into alignment and harmony with natural systems.
In support of these outcomes, SfL is expanding its global work program by recruiting, equipping and mobilizing a diverse cadre of farmer and rancher thought leaders who will participate in the various platforms, forums and meetings of the United Nations.
Parallel to this effort, SfL is inventorying farmer organizations and leaders across the globe that embrace SfL’s guiding principles and are engaging them to explore ways to collaborate. Yesterday, SfL hosted a meeting with a group of farmer leaders from the United Kingdom first met in Edinburgh, Scotland, around global climate talks at COP 26. The purpose of this week’s transatlantic meeting was to explore opportunities to team up and advance farmer recommendations for climate-smart-agriculture pathways to not only climate solutions, but other UN SDGs as well. The virtual meeting focused on candidate areas of advocacy partnership, including agricultural innovation, technology, and climate smart agriculture systems and practices, among other common areas. Next week SfL will be participating in a Canadian Federation of Agriculture sponsored International Agro-Environmental Policy forum that will include representatives of 13 national, regional and global farm organizations. These forum participants will be discussing agricultural pathways toward meeting Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – emission-reduction targets offered by nations under the 2015 Paris Climate Accord.
Another example where SfL will be deploying farmer envoys is the Sustainable Productivity Growth Coalition | USDA, which is meeting this week to review and sign off on a revised draft of the Terms of Reference. SfL will be participating in this event, which will include aligned partners from across the globe that support the mission and goals of the coalition. The SPG partnership aims to accelerate the transition to more sustainable food systems through productivity growth that optimizes agricultural sustainability across social, economic and environmental dimensions.
Yet another example where SfL will be stepping up its global engagement is through the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM4C), a joint initiative led by the United States and the United Arab Emirates. The AIM4C initiative seeks to address climate change by uniting participants to work to significantly increase investments in climate-smart innovation, research and development in the global agriculture sector over the next five years.
These ambitious efforts show the new year will mark another in SfL’s long history of aggressively pursuing goals and outcomes that serve those who work the land to optimize the contributions they can offer to make the world a better place. We invite those who realize the value of this work to join us in incubating and advancing pragmatic, proven and innovative agricultural solutions that benefit producers, the public and the planet.