With each new COP, we continue to work hard to introduce and promote this sustainable vision for agriculture. Along with a handful of agricultural organizations, UN Food and Agriculture Officials and other aligned non- governmental organizations, the farmers, ranchers, fishermen and foresters of the world are beginning to raise their concerns and voices as they realize that non- farmers, non-ranchers, non-fishermen and non-foresters are planning and plotting our future—or our demise. Solutions From the Land has released its 21st Century Agriculture Renaissance report which helps align the vision of a better world framed by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals with the solutions to be found through agriculture. We have observed that the SDGs will not be accomplished if agriculture is doing poorly in the decades ahead. Quite the opposite—agriculture needs to be thriving. The negative focus on agriculture as the ‘problem’ instead of agriculture as the ‘solution’ complicates the platform for mitigation, adaptation, transformation and resilience. For example, the pronouncements for methane emission reduction regularly allude to animal agriculture and specifically to the dairy industry at a time when that industry has been making great progress on modifying feed, manure management for energy creation and other soil amendments for fertility enhancements. Part of the challenge for agriculture is the lack of understanding of just how dynamic the 21st century toolbox has become. As many new technologies mature, the options and opportunities for transformation accelerate. That’s why the voice of agriculture needs to be heard so that those making the plans for climate action are not relying on outdated perceptions of what is actually happening on the farm and in the laboratories. New science and new thinking is delivering a cascade of improved solutions. In many ways each COP is a “show and tell” opportunity for industries and civil society to demonstrate the latest and best strategies and technologies. One area of concern that has garnered significant attention is the alarming level of unsustainable deforestation over recent decades (and centuries). The promising commitments of nations to stop the decline is a good step forward, while efforts to reverse the decline with
historically rich nation and its pastoral landscape. Autumn colors have faded and leaves are falling. Pastures are green with sheep and cattle dotting the passing hills. A Christmas tree farm, a vegetable patch under frost-protective netting, new plantings of winter wheat and a few golf courses all need tending. Morning temperatures are in the 30s and there are no signs of drought or flooding here. We were fortunate to join an informal, bilateral meeting with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and a group of Scottish farmers and UK agricultural leaders to discuss how they are dealing with changing climate patterns and with the proposed COP mandates and schemes developing each day—in many cases behind closed doors without the presence of land stewards and producers. Not surprisingly, the agricultural leaders in the room had many of the same concerns and complaints. These farmer leaders were able to give us a sense of the perennial challenges and unprecedented pressure farmers and ranchers, big and small, endure. And yet there was a sense of optimism that if we can continue to share our vision for 21 st Century agriculture and the accelerating pace of solutions and new thinking, we can begin to develop the kind of momentum that leads to transformative progress and success across a broader wishlist of human needs and goals. We were all appreciative of the scope
afforestation and reforestation strategies creates many new opportunities for employment, traditional and novel wood products, renewable energy generation and proactive wildfire reduction. As one expert mentioned, there needs to be a reward for forest stewards, not just a pat on the back. In Papua New Guinea, a tiny nation with tremendous biodiversity —7 percent of the world’s species of plants and animals—there are plans underway to conserve and upgrade over a million acres of forest. In the United States, ranchers and farmers are looking to initiate similar large landscape projects in Florida and in the headwaters of the Colorado River. These models begin by convening all the stakeholders across a region in order to build consensus around “win-win” strategies and proposals. In the case of the Colorado River, the stakeholders represent an enormous spread of interests, politics, policies and promises. But the threat of inaction due to analysis- paralysis speaks to the complicated nature of reaching multi-benefit solutions. There is never a one-size-fits-all answer, but there are good processes that can deliver benefits to all. As more and more projects are put in place, the ‘proof of concept’ successes lead to scalability, replication, inspiration and hope. Riding the train from Edinburgh to Glasgow each morning to attend COP allowed for a sweeping glimpse of this
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