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Kopin, in collaboration with the Malta Water Association and Koperattiva Rurali Manikata, produced a short video on water scarcity in the framework of the ClimATE Change project.
Malta is currently experiencing one of its driest winters, with less than half the average yearly rainfall. Climate change is known to exacerbate drought, making adaptation a crucial requirement.
This video looks into potential solutions to this life threatening problem.
Watch the video (in Maltese with English subtitles) here.
In order to reach even wider audience in Poland with the message of the ClimATE Change project, Polish Green Network published a book titled "Climate-Friendly Food".
The book was written by the invited expert, Marcin Gerwin, PhD, who specializes in sustainable development and participatory processes. He majored in political sciences and is a co-founder of the Sopot Development Initiative (Sopocka Inicjatywa Rozwojowa). He is also a columnist and the author of the book "Food and Democracy: Introduction to Food Sovereignty" which was published by Polish Green Network in 2011.
Our new book, "Climate-Friendly Food (And Other Solutions to Protect Climate)", deals with various aspects of climate change mitigation and climate protection. It presents such solutions to climate problems as renewable energy sources which lower emissions, organic agriculture which allows to store more carbon dioxide in soils, sustainable economy which is people- and environment-friendly, but most of all efficient democracy which allows to build a more climate-friendly system. The book shows that by implementing these solutions we can protect climate and natural resources, and at the same time build stronger ties in our communities and lead better lives.
The book, published in Polish language, is distributed free of charge both in the printed form (limited number) and in different electronic formats directly from Polish Green Network and during various public events. The electronic versions of the publication are available to download from the Polish website of the ClimATE Change project. The official launch of the book was organized during our traveling Film Festival "Climate Change - Community - Future".
Our book is divided into 3 main sections: I. Climate, II. Food and Agriculture, III. Society. The first one presents the main causes and consequences of climate change and tries to answer the question what we can do to protect climate. The chapters in the second section describe the role of farmers in protecting climate and environment as well as the benefits of organic food. They also try to answer the question whether organic agriculture could feed the world and show how permaculture can help farmers in addressing the impacts of climate change. The last section deals with the main problems of the current capitalist model which is based on the idea of economic growth without limits. It also presents the benefits of deliberative democracy, the ways of applying permaculture principles to living in cities as well as the issues related to the access to land. The book contains also the appendix explaining the basics of permaculture.
The book has been met with a big interest from the potential readers and we have already received a lot of positive feedback regarding its content.
As a part of the ClimATE Change project activities in Poland, Polish Green Network organized a series of free and open webinars titled "Food - Climate - Cooperation".
The webinars were directed at everyone interested in learning more about the problems caused by the currently dominating model of food production and consumption as well as the possible ways for farmers, consumers and citizens to create a food system which is more climate-, environment- and people-friendly.
The event consisted of 6 online lectures in Polish which were held between 14th December 2015 and 20th January 2016. They were given by some of the leading Polish experts and practitioners and covered the topics of climate change, permaculture, renewable energy in agriculture, cooperation between farmers and consumers, system changes needed to protect climate. Each lecture was followed by an online discussion during which participants could ask questions to our experts.
The topics of each webinar were as follows:
1. Climate change – where are we and which way are we heading?
2. Permaculture – basics and practical application in the context of climate change
3. Renewable energy in the rural areas – benefits and future
4. Food coops and other cooperatives are changing the world
5. Community supported agriculture – what is it and how can you get involved?
6. What can we do to protect climate? What kind of system do we need?
The webinars were organized in partnership with with Akademia Bosej Stopy and Kooperatywa Dobrze. Additionally, Polish web portal about climate change, ChronmyKlimat.pl, was our media partner.
Altogether a few hundred people took part in all webinars. In order to reach additional audience with the content of the lectures, each webinar was recorded and made available online to watch for free after the end of the whole event.
Climate change is increasingly becoming a serious threat to the global food security. Since agriculture and food production are especially prone to the consequences of the changing climatic conditions and growingly unpredictable weather, the state of soils should be an essential part of the debate on combating climate change.
Healthy soils can play an important role in climate change mitigation through storing carbon, the so-called carbon sequestration, as well as by decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. However, when soils are managed poorly or cultivated using unsustainable agricultural practices, carbon stored in soil can be exceedingly released into the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2), which together with other greenhouse gases can have negative impact on climate.
In the last 50 years greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, forestry and fisheries have almost doubled. It is estimated that without more decided actions aimed at reducing these emissions they could increase until 2050 by another 30%.
The state of our soils and their impact on climate is greatly influenced by the continuous intensification of agricultural production. The steady conversion of grasslands and forestlands to croplands and pastures has been causing the release of the significant amounts of soil carbon worldwide. It is estimated that land-use changes and drainage of soils for cultivation are responsible for up to 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions.
Thanks to appropriate management, soil can, however, significantly help in dealing with the problems related to climate change mitigation and adaptation. By restoring degraded soils and implementing sustainable agricultural practices, such as crop rotation, zero tillage cultivation, organic farming, agroforestry and others, we have a possibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, increase natural carbon sequestration and build resilience of agriculture and food systems to climate change.
You can learn more about the importance of soils in dealing with climate change from the infographic presented below (click to enlarge):
Knowledge of agricultural genetic resources needs to grow faster because of their critical importance in feeding the world in the context of climate change. This is one of the key conclusions of the recent publication of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The book, titled "Coping with Climate Change: The Roles of Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture", points out the urgent need for much more decisive efforts aimed at studying, preserving and utilizing the biological diversity as a way to cope with the climate change consequences for the global food production.
"Time is not on our side", the authors of the publication warn. "In the coming decades, millions of people whose livelihoods and food security depend on farming, aquaculture, fishing, forestry and livestock keeping are likely to face unprecedented climatic conditions." These people are going to need crop plants and farm animals which are able to give enough food in the situation of the changing and increasingly unpredictable climate.
"In a warmer world with harsher, more variable weather, plants and animals raised for food will need to have the biological capacity to adapt more quickly than ever before", said FAO Deputy Director-General, Maria Helena Semedo. "Preventing further losses of agricultural genetic resources and diverting more attention to studying them and their potential will boost humankind's ability to adapt to climate change", she added.
The document underlines the necessity to broaden our knowledge of genetic resources in agriculture and food production as well as their characteristics such as resistance to drought or disease. A great number of plant crop varieties and livestock breeds adapted to local conditions - as well as trees, fish, insects and micro-organisms - are still poorly documented and may be lost before their potential roles in climate change adaptation are recognized. Often undervalued and still very much understudied are especially millions of micro-organisms living in the soil. Research shows that they play a vital role in, among other thing, protecting plants from pests, drought, cold and salinity.
"We need to strengthen the role of genetic resources and help farmers, fishers and foresters cope with climate change", stated Linda Collette, lead editor of the book and Secretary of FAO's Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.
Among the essential actions advocated by the FAO's publication are: expanding conservation programmes for domesticated species, their wild relatives and other genetic resources important for food and agriculture as well as implementing policies that promote their sustainable use; avoiding practices that destroy biodiversity or undermine the health of ecosystems (e.g. the use of pesticides that impact pollinators); creating and maintaining gene banks; intensifying and expanding the exchange and sharing of agricultural genetic resources.
One of the FAO's propositions for countries is the adoption of guidelines for the recognition of the critical role of biodiversity in assuring food security and the integration of genetic resources into climate change adaptation plans. The draft of the guidelines contains a range of recommendations aimed at helping countries implement strategies and policies regarding the study, preservation and use of genetic resources in order to better adapt to the consequences of the advancing climate change.
FAO's publication on the role of genetic resources in coping with climate change is available here (click to download).
Photo credit: F. de la Cruz / Bioversity International (Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
In the context of changing, and thus growingly unpredictable, climate, the access to appropriate information becomes crucial for implementation of the effective adaptation strategies in agriculture. Consequently, one of the key challenges is delivering climate information and advisory services to millions of female and male farmers around the world, in particular in the global South countries, in order to help them adapt to increasingly serious consequences of climate change.
Climate information services can be a powerful tool in the adaptation of agriculture to the changing climate conditions. They play a very important role especially in protecting farms from droughts, floods and other extreme weather events. Reliable climate and weather information allows also for a more effective use of favorable conditions and helps farmers better manage their crops and increase yields.
Farmers can receive different type of information and with varied frequency. The most typical form are daily weather forecasts informing about the predicted temperatures and rainfall in the coming days. Particularly important are also warnings and alerts about the possible occurrence of extreme weather events or the spread of pests and diseases. All this information, depending on the local circumstances, might be delivered through radio, television, mobile phones or internet. Thanks to this type of information farmers can make better decisions concerning the time of crop planting and harvesting as well as the application of fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation. Putting in place an early warning system, on the other hand, can help farmers protect themselves, their families and their property from the consequences of extreme weather events.
Female and male farmers may also receive information on climate variability between months and years. Using historical data and numerous climate variables this information tells about probabilities for seasonal temperatures and rainfall as well as other climate conditions important from the point of view of agricultural activities (e.g. dry spells or rainy season start date). This type of knowledge can assist farmers in, among other things, selecting appropriate crops, plant varieties or livestock feeding strategies, applying fertilizers and pesticides, making decisions regarding diversification of crops or income sources etc. In other words, farmers are able to better manage the risks connected with climate. This kind of information might be delivered to farmers in particular during workshops with experts or meetings with suppliers of various agricultural services.
Finally, farmers need also information on climate change and its consequences, especially the ones predicted for the coming years or decades. This information is usually based on historical trends and future projections regarding rainfall patterns and average temperatures as well as historical changes in the frequency of extreme weather events. The knowledge of the forecasted climate change, which can be provided to farmers by experts during specially organized workshops, should help farmers in making long-term decisions concerning investments on their farms, changes in farming methods or diversification of their livelihood strategies.
Learn more about climate information services and their role in assisting farmers in both short- and long-term managing of their farms from the infographic presented below (click to enlarge) and the short video available here (click to watch).
Photo credit: Francesco Fiondella / CGIAR Climate (Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Global warming will have far reaching effects on where and how food is produced in the coming decades as well as on the nutritional properties of certain crops. All of this will have serious consequences for the global food trade and the fight against hunger and poverty in the world.
A group of scientists and economists have taken a closer look at the climate change impact on agriculture and food production on the global and regional levels over the past two decades. Their findings have been collected in the book "Climate Change and Food Systems", which was recently published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
"The growing threat of climate change to the global food supply, and the challenges it poses for food security and nutrition, requires urgent concerted policy responses," wrote FAO Deputy Director-General, Maria Helena Semedo, in her foreword to the publication. She also stressed the need for a "sharper focus on important drivers of climate adaptation, including the potential role of trade as a driver to mitigate some of the negative impact of climate on global food production."
Agriculture and food systems under pressure
Climate change is becoming an additional challenge in the context of the fast growing global demand for agricultural commodities for food, animal feed and fuel. This rapid demand increase can be attributed especially to the the population growth and rising income levels.
Agriculture depends greatly on the local weather conditions and for this reason is expected to be highly sensitive to climate change in the coming years. In particular, warmer and drier conditions in the areas nearer the equator will most likely lead to the reduction of the agricultural production in these regions. On the other hand, moderate warming might be beneficial, at least in the short term, to the crop production in other areas.
"Climate change is likely to exacerbate growing global inequality as the brunt of the negative climate effects is expected to fall on those countries that are least developed and most vulnerable," underlined the book's editor, Aziz Elbehri, of FAO's Trade and Markets Division.
The authors of the book examine, among other things, several actions aimed at climate change mitigation, which not infrequently might have hidden negative consequences. For example, current crop-based biofuels are on one hand a renewable energy source which can contribute to mitigating climate change, but at the same time the processes accompanying their production, such as deforestation, can further intensify carbon dioxide emissions.
Threats to nutrition, health and water resources
The book underlines also the potential negative impact of climate change on health and nutrition by aggravating the prevalence of so-called hidden hunger - the chronic lack of vitamins and minerals - as well as obesity. Research shows that higher concentration of carbon dioxide - the main greenhouse gas emitted due to human activity - lowers the amount of iron, zinc and protein and increases the sugar and starch content in some of the world's key food crops such as rice and wheat. These changes could have significant nutrition consequences. In India, for example, where up to a third of the population in rural areas is at risk of not eating enough protein with their food, higher protein deficit in the cultivated crops could have substantial health implications.
The book authors also point out to the fact that in many regions of the world growing water scarcity caused by climate change will lead to the reduction of the capacity to produce food, which could have grave consequences for food security and health. They cite latest research assessing the global impact of diet change on water consumption in food production. Certain results suggest that reducing the amount of animal products in human diets could potentially allow to save the water resources up to the amount needed to feed 1.8 billion people in the world.
Trade and dialogue
The publication cites studies showing that in the context of the changing climate international trade will probably expand. Trade flows will likely increase from mid and high latitudes towards low-latitude regions, where food production and export potential will decrease. At the same time, growing frequency of extreme weather events, such as cyclones and droughts, could have adverse consequences on trade by disrupting supply chains, transportation and logistics.
The book authors indicate that even though global markets can help stabilize food supplies as well as prices and provide alternative sources of food for regions experiencing adverse consequences of climate change, trade alone would not suffice as an adaptation strategy. What is also essential are local strategies which will allow countries and regions avoid over-dependence on imports leading to increased vulnerability to price volatility.
The need to align trade policies with climate objectives is another challenge. It has to be ensured that trade plays its role as an adaptation mechanism without impending at the same time the implementation of activities aimed at the climate change mitigation.
The publication calls for a "structured dialogue" involving all interested parties, including policy makers, scientists, representatives of civil society as well as private sector. The goal of the dialogue should be to assess and verify global, regional and local consequences of climate change in order to assist in formulation and implementation of appropriate climate change policies. This dialogue could take the form of a special forum which would support policy processes and initiatives aimed at securing global food security and provide the best scientific evidence on the impacts of climate change on various levels.
The book "Climate change and food systems" can be downloaded here.
Photo credit: Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank (Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
In another series of short videos about small-scale farmers facing the challenges of climate change in various parts of the world we pay a visit to farmers in India who tell about their ways of adapting to the consequences of the changing climate.
Ardaman Singh is an experienced farmer who has been cultivating various crops for 35 years. In the video he describes problems posed by climate change, and in particular how the increasingly erratic rainfall and changes in the average temperatures negatively impact yields. He is trying to compensate his income losses by growing vegetables and fodder in addition to the traditional grain crops. Local farmers have also adapted to the changing climate conditions by including in their production rice varieties which have shorter growth period and require less water. Watch the video here.
Mohamed Fakir is a dairy farmer in Punjab. In the video he explains how his cow milk production has been steadily decreasing, especially due to climate change as well as water scarcity and lack of appropriate infrastructure. Mohamed is also worried about the diminishing number of farmers who decide to produce fodder. He explains that nowadays farmers prefer to grow other cash crops which makes it increasingly difficult for milk producers to get enough food for their animals. Watch the video here.
Indramani Kumari is a female farmer from the Jamnapur village. In the video she describes how water scarcity and problems with crops have been making the villagers' lives increasingly difficult. Due to climate change the yields are lower, the boreholes and rivers are drying out, and young people are leaving the village. What is especially worrying is that a growing number of people experience hunger. Watch the video here.
Anil Kumar-Singh lives with his family in Jamnapur, where he farms on a little plot. In the video he tells about problems for the local agriculture caused by the changing climate. The main consequences of the erratic rainfalls are the decreasing groundwater level and lower yields. Unfortunately, the lack of appropriate infrastructure prevents local farmers from using water pumps which would make it easier to irrigate fields. Watch the video here.
Susila Devi is a female farmer from the Jamnapur village. In the video she talks about the importance of education and training in climate change adaptation. The problems with water, which started during last years in the region, have limited the possibility to use the traditional fodder in the animal husbandry. Due to her education Susila was able to find information about the alternative fodder solutions which she could use in feeding her animals. She found the needed information at the local milk centre. From their information materials she also learnt about different types of weeds and the importance of keeping the animal area clean. Thanks to the new fodder she started giving to the cows, her milk production has increased as well as milk's fat content. Susila is determined to provide good education also to her children so that they could have a chance for a better future. Watch the video here.
Ramniwash Kumar is a young farmer from the Rambad village. In the video he explains how due to climate change and water scarcity he had to switch his production from maize and wheat to growing vegetables and fruits. He also started to use more environmentally friendly farming methods which he had learnt at the agriculture university. Thanks to these methods he is able to better protect the environment and has less work to do in the field. Watch the video here.
Arjun Sharma is the head of the village and the chairman of the farmer cooperative in the Jamnapur village. In the video he describes how the cooperative supports local farmers through various activities such as saving schemes and low-interest loans for individuals who want to expand their farms and adapt to the changing climate. Cooperative members can also insure their crops, which is encouraged every season by the government. Thanks to the cooperative everyone can earn income and have enough food. Watch the video here.
Photo credit: John Isaac / World Bank (Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Water Council (WWC) warn that by 2050 the access to water in many regions of the world could be significantly reduced which would threaten food security and livelihoods of a big number of people. In the face of these predictions it is essential to change policies and increase necessary investments, including climate change adaptation measures.
Even though it is estimated that in 2050 world water resources will remain sufficient for the global population, which is supposed to reach 9 billion people by then, the continuing overconsumption, environmental degradation and the impact of climate change will lead to problems with the access to water in many of the planet's poorest regions. This is the main conclusion of the new report prepared by FAO and WWC. The document, titled "Towards a water and food secure future”, was presented in April this year in Daegu and Gyeongbuk in the South Korea during the VII World Water Forum, which is the largest international event aimed at finding joint solutions to the main water challenges in the world.
The authors of the report call on the international community to implement appropriate policies and investments, both by the public and private sectors, to ensure sustainable food production which would also allow to protect water resources. Without such actions, the efforts aimed at reducing poverty, increasing incomes and ensuring food security for the millions of people in the global South countries will become increasingly difficult.
"Food and water security are inextricably linked. We believe that by developing local approaches and making the right investments, world leaders can ensure that there will be sufficient water volume, quality and access to meet food security in 2050 and beyond," said Benedito Braga, President of the World Water Council, on the occasion of the launching of the paper. "Agriculture has to follow the path of sustainability and not the one of immediate profitability," added Braga.
"In an era of accelerated changes unparalleled to any in our past, our ability to provide adequate, safe and nutritious food sustainably and equitably is more relevant than ever. Water, as an irreplaceable element of achieving this end, is already under pressure by increasing demands from other uses, exacerbated by weak governance, inadequate capacities, and underinvestment," pointed out FAO Deputy Director-General Natural Resources, Maria Helena Semedo. "This is an opportune time to re-visit our public policies, investment frameworks, governance structures and institutions. We are entering the post-2015 development era and we should mark it with solid commitments," she added.
Water and agriculture
According to FAO estimates, by 2050 around 60 percent more food - and even up to 100 percent in the global South countries - will be needed to feed the world. This means added pressure on the water supplies which will be required be the world's agriculture in order to meet the growing demand for food. Already now agriculture is the largest user of water globally, accounting in many countries for around two-thirds or more of the water supplies drawn from rivers, lakes and aquifers.
Even with growing urbanization, in 2050 much of the global population and most of the poor will continue to earn their living in agriculture. Yet, as the report notes, the agricultural sector will face the reduction of the available water due to a competing demand from industry and cities. In these circumstances, farmers, and especially smallholders, will have to find new ways to increase their output using limited land and water resources.
Currently, water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of people in the world and this proportion is likely to increase to two thirds by 2050. This is largely due to overconsumption of water in agriculture. For example in large areas of South and East Asia, in the Near East, North Africa and North and Central America, more groundwater is already used than can be replenished naturally. Additionally, in some regions intensive agriculture, industrial development and expanding cities are responsible for polluting water sources.
Policy changes and new investments
As underlined by FAO and WWC, changing the situation is still possible. In their report they call on governments to help farmers so that they could boost food production using increasingly limited water resources and better manage risks connected with water scarcity. All this will require a combination of public and private investments as well as providing farmers with the necessary knowledge.
It is essential also to solve numerous problems connected with the degradation and waste of water resources. Additionally, the water rights must be allocated in just and inclusive ways. The report highlights in particular the need to guarantee farmers with the access to land and water as well as financial resources in ways which enhance the role of women, who in Africa and Asia are responsible for a big part of the agricultural production.
Addressing climate change
The authors of the document warn that the consequences of climate change, including unusual rainfall and temperature patterns as well as more frequent extreme weather events, such as droughts and cyclones, will have a growing impact on agriculture and especially water resources.
Mountain regions provide up to 80 percent of global water supplies, but the ongoing retreat of glaciers due to changing climate threatens the existence of those resources in the future. Forests, on the other hand, not only use water but also provide it - at least one third of the world's largest cities draw a big portion of their drinking water from forested areas. This shows how important it is to increase efforts to protect forested and mountain areas where the majority of the world's freshwater supplies originates.
The report calls for the implementation of policies and investments aimed at enhancing climate change adaptation both at the watershed and households levels. This includes, among other things, improving water storage infrastructure, increasing water capture and reuse as well as expanding research which can help small-scale farmers build more resilient food production systems.
The full document is available here.
Photo credit: Gerardo Pesantez / World Bank (Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Soil is one of the key natural resources and constitutes the basis for the global food system. Furthermore, as it is a non-renewable resource, its degradation has very serious consequences, which are still too often largely ignored in the discussions about the future of our planet.
In the context of the predicted global population increase to more than 9 billion people by 2050, growing pressure on the finite land and water resources as well as the impact of climate change, our current and future food security depends to a great extent on the state of soils around the world. It is estimated that around 95% of our food is directly or indirectly produced on soils. Soils are also indispensable for delivering numerous other key ecosystem services. However, in many regions of the world soils are subjected to the increasing pressure caused by agricultural intensification, competing uses of land by livestock farming, forestry and urbanization as well as the necessity to meet food, energy and other needs of the growing population.
It is predicted that if the world population exceeds 9 billion by 2050, agricultural production will have to increase by 60% globally and by up to 100% in the global South countries. One needs to remember, however, that agricultural intensification and advances in farming technology in the past 50 years allowed on one hand to increase productivity, but on the other often led to many negative consequences for the environment, in particular to soil degradation, which jeopardizes the ability to maintain production in these areas in the future. Available data suggest that about 33% of global soils are already moderately to highly degraded because of erosion, salinization, compaction, acidification, nutrient depletion and chemical pollution. This hampers significantly soil functions and one should not forget that forming 1 cm of soil can take up to 1000 years.
Soil health and its fertility have a direct influence on the nutrient content of food crops and their yields. Soils supply plants with essential nutrients, water, oxygen and root support. They are also the living environment for a great number of various organisms which directly influence food producing plants. In the context of climate change soils serve as a buffer protecting delicate plant roots from drastic fluctuations in temperature. Healthy soils contribute also to mitigating climate change by maintaining or increasing its carbon content.
In order to effectively protect soils in the world diverse approaches are needed. This include, among others, implementing appropriate policies, investment in sustainable soil management, stopping soil degradation and supporting its restoration, development of targeted soil research and education programmes as well as creating soil information systems. Of key importance is wide promotion of sustainable soil management, in other words using agricultural methods which improve soil quality and reduce their degradation. Among these methods are, for example, using ecological and traditional farming techniques, reducing or forgoing the use of agrochemicals, increasing soil organic matter content, promoting crop rotation, keeping soil surface vegetated, using permanent soil cover, reducing or forgoing tillage, agroforestry etc. It is estimated that these and similar practices could lead to an average crop yield increase of 58%.
You can learn more about the importance of soils and their protection from the infographics presented below (click to enlarge), which were produced by FAO in connection with the ongoing International Year of Soils.
This contest has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this contest are the sole responsibility of the partners implementing the project “ClimATE Change – Enhancing competences on relationship between MDG 1 and 7 as effective approach to meet both goals ‐ DCI‐NSAED/2012/280‐ 926” and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.