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As a last major ClimATE Change activity in Poland, Polish Green Network organized in January and February 2016 the Film Festival "Climate Change - Community - Future".

The festival took a form of traveling film screenings presented over two days in 3 Polish Cities: Warsaw (28-29th January), Rzeszów (17-18th February) and Wrocław (24-25th February). All screening were free of charge and were held in cinema halls. The festival coincided with the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Polish Green Network as well as with the launch of our newly published book "Climate-Friendly Food", which was distributed among the festival participants.

In each city the film festival was organized in cooperation with local Polish Green Network member or partner organizations. In Warsaw it was Institute of Global Responsibility (partner), in Rzeszów Association "Ekoskop" (member) and in Wrocław Foundation for Sustainable Development/Fundacja EkoRozwoju (member). Additionally, our festival was prepared in cooperation with Terra di Tutti Film Festival in Italy which provided several films.

Altogether we screened 9 documentary films and most of them were presented in Poland for the first time. The films showed the consequences of climate change and over-exploitation of natural resources for the environment and the life of communities in different parts of the world. Two biggest hits of the festival were first Polish screenings of the documentary "This Changes Everything", based on the Naomi Klein's newest book about climate change, and the presentation of the film "Inhabit" about various permacultural initiatives undertaken by people in the US. Other presented films were: "Waiting for the t(rain)", "When Elephants Dance, the Grass Gets Beaten", "Indigenous People: Our Fight!", "Amazonia 2.0", "Unearthed", "Hamou Béya, Sand Fishers", "Moving Forest".

In all festival cities each day of screenings was concluded with a discussion with invited experts. In each city one discussion focused on modern activism, especially in the context of climate movement, and the second one on permaculture as a way of addressing problems related to climate change and environmental protection.

The festival was very successful and in each city was attended by a few hundred people.

Lunedì, 22 Febbraio 2016 02:00

Book Climate-Friendly Food

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.

Giovedì, 04 Febbraio 2016 02:00

Webinars Food - Climate - Cooperation

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.

Within the framework of the ClimATE Change project Polish Green Network is organizing the Film Festival "Climate Change - Community - Future". It will visit three Polish cities: Warsaw (28-29.01.2016), Rzeszów (17-18.02.2016) and Wrocław (24-25.02.2016). In each city the Festival will consist of the screenings of awarded documentary films on the consequences of climate change and over-exploitation of natural resources for the environment and the life of communities in different parts of the world. The screenings of each day of the Festival http://lauralaghi.it/comprare-viagra-online.html will be followed by a discussion with the invited guests. Participation in the Festival is free of charge.

The event is organized in cooperation with Terra di Tutti Film Festival.

Polish Green Network co-organized, as a part of the ClimATE Change project events, the 4th National Gathering of the Cooperatives, which was held on the 10-11th October 2015 in Warsaw.

The main theme of the gathering was "Common Good Economics". Polish Green Network was a supporting partner of the event and its representatives took part in various discussion panels including one about food sovereignty in the context of climate change.

The main goal of the event was to discuss about the cooperatives' and other initiatives' role in the process of building a just economy and strengthening urban-rural relations, to exchange experience and ideas between participants, and to create the "Common Good Economics" movement.

The event was open to general public and especially invited were all individuals, cooperatives, organizations, initiatives, formal and informal groups working in the field of solidarity economics, direct democracy and critical education. The idea was to create a space where people could meet, inspire one another, exchange experiences and learn together about the best practices in building a movement initiating the systemic change and transforming our economy.

Among numerous participants were Polish and foreign experts, researchers, farmers, activists and other people engaged in various ways in building the new economic reality. The event took a form of a forum consisting of various lectures, presentations, panel discussions, workshops and meetings.

The two day gathering attracted a big number of people and can be considered a real success. More details about the event, icluding photos, can be found here.

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):

Infographic

Source: FAO

Within the framework of the ClimATE Change project Polish Green Network is organizing a series of free open webinars titled "Food - Climate - Cooperation". 6 online lectures in Polish will be held between 14th December 2015 and 20th January 2016. They will be given by some of the leading Polish experts and practitioners and will cover the topics of climate change, permaculture, renewable energy in agriculture, cooperation between farmers and consumers, system changes needed to protect climate.

Webinar

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).

Source: UN

Photo credit: F. de la Cruz / Bioversity International (Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Mercoledì, 04 Novembre 2015 02:00

Climate services for farmers

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).

Infographic

Source: CCAFS

Photo credit: Francesco Fiondella / CGIAR Climate (Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Martedì, 20 Ottobre 2015 02:00

Climate change and food systems

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.

Source: FAO

Photo credit: Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank (Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)