The Year Ahead Offers Great Opportunities to Advance Land-Based Solutions to Global Challenges

January 7, 2021

Two weeks ago, we used this space to share a wide variety of achievements SfL and the extensive range of farmers, ranchers and foresters we represent notched in 2020, despite the massive – and linked – health, economic and environmental challenges across the globe throughout the year.

With a quite substantial showing last year, even in the face of incredible adversity, SfL members now look ahead to 2021 and are laying out plans to further support and build agriculture’s role in returning the world to some degree of normalcy. SfL looks forward to helping boost the sector’s capabilities beyond pre-COVID 19 times and meet the challenges that range from hunger to resource restoration, and from ensuring cleaner water to curbing climate change.

For example, SfL and the United States Soybean Export Council (USSEC) are teaming up to host a series of virtual “independent dialogues” this month and next that will focus on the UN Food Systems Summit, an event to be convened later this year by UN Secretary-General António Guterres as part of the Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The goals are a collection of 17 interlinked global objectives designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.” Set in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly, the SDGs, are intended to be achieved by 2030. The SfL-USSEC dialogues will address the summit’s five action tracts, which include:

  • Ensure Safe & Nutritious Food for All;
  • Shift to Sustainable Consumption Patterns;
  • Boost nature positive production at sufficient scale;
  • Advance Equitable Livelihoods
  • Build resilience to vulnerabilities, shocks and stress

Together, SfL and the USSEC are co-facilitating a planning team whose mission is to design, promote and manage a series of dialogues, through which producer and value chain input will be channeled into the Future of Food System Dialogues USDA is hosting this winter and spring.

On another front, SfL will soon be releasing a special white paper, written by and for farmers, ranchers and foresters, as well as policy makers, recommending ways agricultural landscapes can be better enabled to contribute solutions to the SDGs. A key component of the report will the “stories from the land,” where a spotlight will be placed on the systems and practices being used by producers around the world to deliver desired SDG outcomes.

SfL’s work on the global stage will continue as momentum for elevating and expanding the role of agriculture in addressing climate change challenges continues to grow both here in the United States and globally through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and many academic, business and NGO collaboratives. Workshops are being held under the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA), a decision among nations to work together and ensure agricultural development increases both food security in the face of climate change and a reduction in emissions.

The focus this year will be on synthesizing input received in the KJWA workshops to date and producing an agricultural climate change roadmap for consideration at the next global climate negotiating session (Conference of Parties, or COP, 26) set for November in Glasgow, Scotland. SfL will be monitoring developments and participating through its status as an official observer entity in the UNFCCC.

Also on the international level, SfL will be engaging the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) through its membership in the International Agri-Food Network and participation in the Committee on Food Security (CFS) Private Sector Mechanism (PSM). The next committee conference (CFS 47) is set for Feb. 8-11 and will include 12 side events. SfL is proposing to host a side event that will spotlight systems and practices farmers are using to deliver high value solutions to improve food and nutrition security, all while simultaneously enhancing health and livelihoods, improving the environment, enhancing biodiversity and delivering high-value solutions to climate change.

Another area of focus for SfL in the FAO this year will be the CFS workstream on Agroecological and Other Innovative Approaches.Two negotiating sessions have been set – the first in late March and the second in early May. These will be followed by an extra-ordinary CFS plenary session (CFS 48) June 4, where the workstream recommendations will be considered for adoption. (The first draft of the recommendations is available HERE.)

Look for SfL members to engage the new president and Congress coming into office this month on climate change enabling polices for agriculture. A preview of what is expected from incoming USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack came out last month in the form of Transition Memo – Climate 21 Project. Equally important will be climate change initiatives led by the EPA and the Department of Interior, the latter of which oversees most of the federal land management agencies in the west where water allocation and public land use decisions will be of paramount importance to farmers, ranchers and forest communities.

In 2021 SfL will continue to facilitate the North America Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance, assisting them in socializing the group’s Recommendations to the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and Recommendations to the Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis. Among these are opportunities to secure federal support for Vulnerability Assessments Needed to Inform Climate Policy and Program Decisions and investments in technical and financial assistance to help producers improve resilience and reduce or offset GHG emissions.

SfL will also continue its support of smart agriculture work groups in Florida and Iowa, where highly respected and well networked agricultural and forestry thought leaders and value chain partners have convened in their respective states to find solutions to the challenges posed by changing climatic conditions now pressing the states’ farms, ranches and forests.

SfL members take seriously the importance of giving the agriculture sector the tools it needs to meet the growing threats to food security posed in recent times. They stand ready to meet those challenges while simultaneously delivering land-based solutions to energy, environmental and climate challenges and achieving global sustainable development goals.

Best wishes to all for a healthy, productive and rewarding 2021.

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Our Vision

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.