From Nov. 6-18th, thousands of people watched world leaders in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, deliberate at the 27th Conference of Parties (COP) United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Over the course of two intensive weeks, 35,000 of the world’s government leaders, funders, civil society organizations and representatives from the private sector convened in Sharm El-Sheikh to propose large-scale solutions to the world’s mounting climate challenges. Central to the discussion were proposals that would help countries reduce emissions, expand adaptation efforts and mobilize finance in support of climate action. Wrapping up this year’s conference, many praised the establishment of a loss and damage fund, which will aim to offer funding for the planet’s most vulnerable countries suffering the brunt of climate change impacts.
EcoAgriculture Partners was one of several organizations leading the charge to champion and scale locally-led, nature-based solutions. We joined partners and collaborators to share actionable resources and tools for landscape leaders, including our training course on Climate-Smart Agriculture Planning and our recently published white paper outlining the role of Public Policy in supporting Landscape Partnerships.
In addition to the robust in-person agenda, the conference live-streamed several side events highlighting the value and potential of equipping local leaders with the resources needed to confront climate challenges. Below, we share highlights from three events that discuss land resilience strategies to combat climate change and the value of empowering local leaders to help bring them to scale.
CropLife International | International Meat Secretariat | Jigsaw Farms | National Farmers’ Federation | National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi | World Farmers’ Organisation
When it comes to technological innovation for farmers, there is often a gap between knowledge and implementation. It is common for farmers to learn of new technologies to advance their techniques, but many are often wary or unable to implement them due to the risk of losing money and resources.
Dr. Betty Chinyamunyamu, CEO of the National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi, attributed this disconnect to the inaccessible language within policies that are challenging for farmers to understand and often do not clarify how technology will specifically impact a farmer’s land.
Fiona Simson, President of the National Farmers’ Federation, noted that Including farmers early in the policy-making process was one worthwhile solution. She has seen farmers’ involvement in planning stages lead to higher implementation rates for new technologies or ideas such as rotationally grazing.
In Australia, where Simson lives, farmers even pay taxes that directly fund research and development for agricultural innovation. Solutions target farmers’ needs and are therefore widely used.
“Climate change affects farmers every day,” said Simson. “We are the custodians of so many acres of land across the world. We are the ones who feel its impacts keenly.”
“There is no singular toolbox,” said Mark Wootton, owner of Jigsaw Farms in Australia. His 3,000-hectare landscape has doubled food and fiber production in the last 25 years due to using several new approaches. By outsourcing professional help selecting tree species and assessing carbon neutrality, the land is more profitable and has more biodiversity.
Hsin Huang, Secretary General of the International Meat Secretariat, summed up the event nicely: “Let’s not be afraid of the complexity, let’s embrace it. We need each other. It is not one or the other; it is both.”
Alliance of Bioversity International | CIAT | CIGAR | CIRAD | European Commission | Global Environment Facility | INRAE | IPCC
Land is a convergence of many life-sustaining factors. To implement sustainable solutions, stakeholders need to embrace the overlap of climate change challenges and collaborate on ways forward. How we use land plays a vital role in creating a greener future and curbing rising levels of CO2 and global temperatures.
In this seminar with the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, Youba Sokona, Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), outlined a framework for land-based solutions that draws on knowledge from local and national policymakers and scientific research, as well as local and indigenous communities.
By involving all stakeholders in the policy-making and implementation processes, there can be more inclusive, big-picture approaches to adapt to global warming and mitigate human impact.
Lini Wollenberg also highlights food security as one integral aspect of land use. Four main actions must happen to achieve a net zero food system: lower emissions, sequester carbon, shift diets away from meat, and embrace new technologies.
“Systems are only becoming more complex with more pieces and more stakeholders, and it is harder to move together in the same direction,” said Pascal Martinez, Senior Climate Change Specialist with the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The complexity of our modernized world speaks to the need for systemic approaches by focusing on long-term goals across overlapping needs.
Implementing Adaptation Strategies for Climate Change Using Planning, Forestry, Agriculture and Land-use
ANIE (Chad) | Bui Power Authority | CIFOR-ICRAF | KKL-JNF | PRIMA
Adaptation is a focus for many countries wanting to meet their climate goals. Desertification and the need to replant forests and green spaces were a central part of this discussion with panelists from Israel, Ghana and Chad speaking on afforestation efforts in desert areas.
Land rehabilitation is a country-wide focus in Israel, where the NGO Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael, a Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF), is helping people harvest limited water, plant trees along stream embankments and regreen areas by expanding and preserving forests.
Anat Gold, Central Region Director at KKL-JNF, talked about the reforestation happening at Be’er Sheva River, where a once abandoned area of sewage and old industrial space is now a metropolitan park. Together with local offices, the government and KKL-JNF created a recreational space to increase land value and reclaim an ecosystem for biodiversity.
Reforestation is happening all over Israel. Specific varieties and time windows for planting are central to this effort because trees are not natural to the climate. Through this careful planning, the Negev southern region of Israel is strengthening the soil and bringing life back to the land.
It can be a model for restoration projects everywhere.
Houria Djoudi, Senior Scientist for CIFOR-ICRAF, says with countries working to meet their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) outlined in the Paris Agreement, now is the time to realize the power of trees and forests in our landscapes. Replanting and protecting forests increases biodiversity. Furthermore, in many cases the more fruitful an area of land, the more income for land stewards from forest products.
In the Sahel Desert of Africa, farmer-managed natural regeneration of land has shown to increase crop production by 15-30 percent. Research also shows that the foods that women harvest are much more likely to benefit household food security, so tree products like shea nuts are critical for community wellbeing.
Identifying and conserving indigenous trees like the Shea, Mahogany and Tamarind is one of the many goals of Samuel Kofi Dzamesi, CEO of Bui Power Authority, an electric power company in Ghana. Implementing clean energy and reforesting areas are both central ways Ghana looks to meet its NDCs.
Investing in land rehabilitation is critical for the health of the land itself, for biodiversity, for the well-being of communities and for reversing the impacts of climate change.
Land is crucial in the fight against climate change. Developing land resilience strategies and empowering local leaders to help bring them to scale is key to this strategy. It is clear that locally-led and developed solutions, that include all stakeholders, can drive mitigation and adaptation forward. The establishment of a loss and damage fund will greatly aid, grassroots and locally lead initiatives to achieve their landscape resilience goals and ultimately combat climate change.