Illegal logging, climate-savvy farming, ‘ugly’ land grabs, gender perspectives, and ageing oyster farms

Written by Alison Binney for the Global Landscapes Forum while employed as a science communicator at Econnect Communication

Original release

A series of media briefs for the Global Landscapes Forum, Warsaw, November 2013

Global Landscapes Forum looking for answers for climate-related talks

WARSAW, Poland — The Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) is being held in Warsaw next week, in parallel with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) 19th Conference of the Parties.

It proposes a ‘landscapes’ approach to resolve the central dilemma confronting humanity today: How can we produce enough food for 9 billion people by 2050 without destroying Earth’s forests and accelerating climate change?

Is climate-smart agriculture really that smart?

Climate-smart agriculture is being dubbed as the ticket that will deliver the extra 60 percent food production needed by 2050 to satisfy expected demand. But can agriculture really transform itself to produce more, without destroying forests and the climate? What policies, legislation and financial mechanisms will be needed to transform agriculture to be climate-smart at the farm level over the next 30 years?

The good, the bad and the ugly: pros and cons of climate change for African farmers

The ‘good’ story in Africa is that some agricultural areas will thrive in the conditions that a changing climate presents. The ‘bad’ is that some areas won’t. The ‘ugly’ part of this story is that unless mechanisms and policies are put in place to help farmers transition to the ‘bad’ conditions that climate change presents, land grabs by big corporations could squeeze increasing numbers of struggling African families off their traditional lands.

Which areas of Africa win and lose in this battle? How can policies help farmers adjust while also protecting Africa’s unique natural landscapes? How can farming evolve to reduce the effects of climate change?

Illegal logging: tip of the iceberg for land-use agreements?

Eliminating illegal logging of native forests is one of a myriad of issues that forest and land managers face. Deforestation and land degradation have a constellation of causes — unsustainable agriculture, energy, mining and urban development are also responsible.

Managing land use, with regard to climate change, involves multiple levels of government, and increasingly complex interactions of state, private and indigenous and local communities.

Although regulations and voluntary standards are being developed to help regulate use of resources, they are not adequate, according to Professor Daniela Kleinschmit, Head of the Forest Policy Unit at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

“An ideal policy process should reflect the complexity of shared sustainability standards,” says Kleinschmit, who will address the Forum on Governance and legal frameworks for sustainable landscapes.

Acknowledging gender differences—a vital factor in climate talks?

“To really understand and govern forests, one has to go beyond the trees and look at the social contexts and interrelated issues of development and democracy,” according to Dr. Seema Arora-Jonsson, Associate Professor at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

Dr. Arora-Jonsson is the keynote speaker for a session on, Linking gendered knowledge with gender-responsive action in the landscape: What works? Women’s input to climate change strategies in developing countries is a growing area of study in global research. Research is highlighting that women are more likely to suffer from the immediate effects of a hotter, drier climate, as they take care of the food and health of a family. However, their perceptions of climate change, its impacts on food supplies and farmland, and ways of coping, are often different to those of men.

This session will look at what gender-relevant research is being done and the growing knowledge in this area. It will also explore the role of global mechanisms such as the UNFCCC and the Sustainable Development Goals in advancing gender equality at national, regional and community levels.

How organic farming is building food security in Ethiopia

Organic farming has helped transform the region of Tigray, Ethiopia, from a region of regular climate-induced famines — killing thousands of people — to one with food security and relative prosperity. Farmers have returned to using locally produced seed and compost, leading to more pest- and disease-resistant crops, and less need for expensive chemicals and fertilizers.

Young and mighty powerful voices

Eleven young entrepreneurs — chosen from 150 entrants from 50 countries — will kickstart the Global Landscapes Forum in Warsaw by sharing their big ideas for a sustainable future. They will take to the stage to inspire discussion and encourage other young people to make a change in their communities.

In Uganda, they are working to restore war-torn landscapes. In Kenya, social media is being used to broaden the appeal of agriculture to the next generation. In The Gambia, young people are training their peers to inherit leadership roles from aging oyster farmers as a means of addressing both unemployment and marine biodiversity.