Solutions from the Land (SfL) board member Pat O’Toole, a Wyoming cattle and sheep rancher, singularly represented the global farmers constituency at a workshop staged this week (June 15) by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
O’Toole, the long-term president of the Family Farm Alliance with a strong background in irrigated agriculture, was the workshop’s sole presenter offering farmer/rancher insight and recommendations in the special workshop on “sustainable land and water management, including integrated watershed management strategies, to ensure food security.”
Through a written statement and video he told the international panel addressing climate change that collaboration is critically important of to ensure sustainable land and water management, sharing with other delegates his family’s historic stewardship of lands along the Colorado-Wyoming border for 140 years.
“During that span of time,” O’Toole said, “we have been truly fortunate to have shared productive and truly collaborative relationships with our community and our federal and state government partners.”
He said multi-stakeholder collaborations that bring together landowners, farmers, scientists, governments, the private sector, the food and agriculture value chain, the forestry and aquaculture sectors, and civil society are needed at different landscape levels (watershed, country and region, among others) to monitor, develop, and implement land and water uses and management policies that enable priority economic, social and environmental outcomes.
The workshop, which was an “intercessional” meeting being held ahead of the next round of global climate talks (COP 26) this November in Glasgow, UK, is a function of the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA), a landmark agreement reached among global climate negotiators in November, 2017. The KJWA recognizes the unique potential of agriculture in tackling climate change and addresses six interrelated topics on soils, nutrient use, water, livestock, methods for assessing adaptation, and the socio-economic and food security dimensions of climate change across the agricultural sectors.
O’Toole’s call for “uncommon collaborations” that build trust was among four essential points he shared with fellow delegates. He also said that it was critical to understand water resources and to prioritize water practices, infrastructure and policies that balance production and conservation. He warned that pressure is growing to ‘solve’ current urban and environmental water shortages by simply moving water away from irrigated agriculture. O’Toole said a diversified water management portfolio that provides benefits to multiple use sectors is needed.
He also said production must exceed food security and must also offer nutritious, healthy foods and healthy ecosystems that integrate livestock-crop diversification systems with food and nutrition research and policies. The variation is needed to achieve the 17 interconnected UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include ending hunger, ensuring clean water, providing clean energy and stemming climate change.
“It was an honor to represent the people who feed our world,” O’Toole said of his role in the workshop. “We are the logical problem-solvers whose ideas and actions will move us into a sustainable future.”
Solutions from the Land (SfL) builds and facilitates state, national and global initiatives and alliances through which farmers, ranchers, foresters and collaborating partners showcase examples of innovation and proactively advocate for policies, partnerships, investments and research that will enable agricultural landscapes to deliver near-term, cost-effective, integrated solutions to global mega-challenges: food and energy security; sustainable economic development; climate change and environmental improvement. For more on SfL, click here.