Sustainable landscapes: Food security and adapting to climate change at the Global Landscapes Forum

For the first time agriculture and forestry came together in one conference, on the fringes of the main climate summit in Warsaw, at the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF). We must think about forests and agriculture as two parts of one greater solution. We need to stop looking at these two areas in isolation and consider the economic, gender, cultural and political aspects they both share.

Can we produce enough food for 9 billion people by 2050 without destroying the Earth’s forests and accelerating climate change? That was one of the main questions asked by participants at the GLF.

Opening the discussion was Gernot Laganda from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

“Climate change has two different types of impact on agricultural landscapes, direct and indirect,” said Laganda. “Land, food and the climate system are deeply interconnected and investing in smallholder adaptation is a multiple-win strategy and a good starting point.”

Anthony Nyong from the African Development Bank (ADB) talked about the landscape approach to food security and adaptation to climate change in the Sahel region.  

“Climate change, together with other factors, is putting extra pressure on the societies in the Sahel. Solutions call for an integrated approach from the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Energy, who should start working together for a better coordination,”. Nyong said. “Drought is a big issue in the Sahel, but it’s not something that happens overnight, so we should be able to do something about it.” 

The ADB is investing US$4 billion to help the Sahel reach its economic stability and become an agricultural developed region.

Thomas Hofel from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) focused on the specific case of mountain development and stated that mountains are a main part of the issue as they represent 25% of the earth’s surface. H reported on FAO’s project linked to the earthquake of 8 October 2005 in Pakistan, entitled Building Back Better.

“The watershed management committees allow for participatory planning and enable the communities to gain confidence and finally have a voice,” said Hofel. “Good resilience was created for the next flood in 2010 and the overall livelihood nutritional situation improved drastically.”

“If we don’t operate at the landscape level, we won’t get out of the defective circle we are in,” said Richard Choularton from the World Food Programme (WFP). “Food insecure people are the most vulnerable but also the least able to participate in the solution planning process.”

“We need good safety nets and platforms to help them, but we cannot proceed if not at the landscape level. Climate risk is a significant challenge for food security and an additional 10-20% of the world’s population could be at risk of hunger by 2050, if the situation doesn’t change.”

“A good sustainable solution lies in good agricultural practices and it pays to invest in them,” said Ishmael Sunga from the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU). "It’s important to have policies that support the efforts of farmers and address climate issues looking at the farmers’ needs.”

Climate change poses a great challenge to society and what makes it even more critical is that there is an inter-relation between climate change, food security and human security. After two days of discussions at the GLF a special message will be sent to the COP from the Global Landscapes community.