Learning Events

Learning Events will share knowledge on successful, concrete examples of successes that illustrate one of the recommendations from the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change:

No. 1

The “land sharing or land sparing” conundrum

Recommendation: #1 Global and national policies
Organised by: CIFOR
The global human population is estimated to grow to 9 billion by 2050. Not only will there be more mouths to feed, but increasingly wealthy societies will demand a more (animal) protein-rich diet, which will require considerable additional land and investment. With much of the world’s productive land already under some form of cultivation, policy makers are struggling to reconcile the need to grow additional food with the need to avoid encroaching on already threatened natural ecosystems, especially forests.Some advocate a process of “land sharing”, whereby agricultural production takes place within complex multi-functional landscapes. Others favour “land sparing”, where agricultural production on already cultivated or marginal lands is maximized, so that other areas are set aside for the conservation of biodiversity.

Although the “land sparing” versus “land sharing” debate presents itself as a black or white choice there are in fact many shades of grey in trying to optimize land-use , dependent on a multitude of interacting factors: be they geographical, ecological, economic, social and political. This Learning Event will explore the various shades of grey characterizing this question as the basis for some tangible recommendations

Read full event details and view presentations…

 No. 2

Mobilising investment for fisheries and jobs

Recommendation: #2 Global investments
Organised by:
 No. 3

Livestock Plus. How can sustainable intensification of livestock production through improved feeding practices help realize livelihood AND environmental benefits?

Recommendation: #3 Sustainable intensification
Organised by: CIATILRICATIEEmbrapa
Developing countries have the highest potential in the world for increasing food production while reducing emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. The livestock sector offers particularly significant opportunities for sustainable and climate-friendly intensification.

Livestock raised on forages, crop residues, and other locally produced feeds play a central role in agricultural production across the tropics, using 70% of all agricultural land and providing livelihoods for a billion people. But these systems also contribute significantly to GHGs emissions, with livestock production estimated to account for 15-18% of all agricultural emissions.

This learning event will demonstrate how livestock keepers can help realize both livelihood as well as environmental benefits by using improved feed resources and simple feeding practices. The discussion will center on diverse livestock production systems in the developing world that illustrate a concept referred to as “LivestockPlus.” These systems show significant potential to produce more meat and milk, enhance livelihoods, improve natural resource management, reduce GHG emissions per unit of livestock product, and sequester carbon effectively. The solutions presented range from new methods involving cut-and-carry forages and the use of crop residues in intensive systems of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa to improved pasture-based systems in Latin America.

Read full event details and view presentations…

 No. 4

How can developing countries advance towards a more sustainable agriculture? A concrete experience on development of a science-based tropical agriculture in Brazil.

Recommendation: #3 Sustainable intensification
Organised by: Embrapa
Responding to increasing concerns over agriculture´s footprint on the natural resource base, the agricultural research system in Brazil has taken important leaps, in a short period of time, towards development of innovations for increasingly safer and sustainable agricultural systems.

The country has become a leader in crop management based on minimum and no tillage systems, which significantly helps decrease erosion and improve general soil quality and groundwater recharge. Biological nitrogen fixation, through inoculation techniques using endophytic diazotrophic bacteria, has led to a significant decrease in the amount of chemical fertilizers applied to crops such as soybean. This, in turn, has significantly reduced environmental impacts such as water resources contamination with nitrates or other harmful elements.

Biological control, regularly used in a number of crops, such as soybean, sugarcane, cotton and fruit crops, has also reduced the need for chemical pest and disease control in several management systems, with a positive impact on the environment, rural workers’ quality of life and product safety and quality. Over the last decades, plant breeding programs have allowed adaptation of crops to a wide variety of environmental conditions in the country. This has been achieved by incorporating adaptation to different latitudes, tolerance to acid soils – especially to toxic aluminum, increased efficiency in nutrient use (like phosphorus and nitrogen), as well as resistance and tolerance to biotic factors that are especially severe in tropical regions.

These and many other innovations incorporated by the Brazilian agriculture allowed increased resource use efficiency, higher productivity and intensified use of land, reducing drastically the need to agricultural expansion at high environmental cost. This learning event will showcase new tools based on geomatics applications, a relatively new discipline combining information technology and earth sciences.

Read full event details and view presentations…

No. 5

How can affordable, accessible, inclusive and resilient food and farming systems be achieved through Ecological and social intensification?

Recommendation: #3 Sustainable intensification
Organised by: IFOAMBiovision
The award winning Tigray Project will be used as a core case study to illustrate the ecological and social intensification practices and systems that regenerated both landscapes and livelihoods. As the participatory models of engagement that empowered farming communities and restored ecosystems and productivity in this highly degraded region of Ethiopia are explained other leaders will outline other examples of ecological and social intensification such as:

  • Push n Pull method of Maize production East Africa,
  • Pasture Cropping in Australia,
  • Planting with Space in Ethiopia,
  • SRI in Asia and,
  • Evergreen Agriculture in Africa,
  • Participatory seed saving model that empowers 500,000 female organic farmers across 16 states of India,
  • Participatory guarantee system in which farmers and consumers create sustainable local and sub-national production and marketing models while ensuring organic integrity through affordable participatory alternatives to costly third party certification
  • Public procurement model in Brazil focused on intensifying smallholder production and ensuring local markets for high quality nutritional produce that simultaneously addresses food insecurity and rural poverty

With such practices and systems successfully operating in over 120 countries the global organic movement offers a wealth of viable, affordable and existing systems to enable the transition to sustainable and inclusive agriculture – including climate smart agriculture.

Read full event details and view presentations…

 No. 6

Achieving and measuring sustainable intensification: the role of technology, best practices and partnerships

Recommendation: #3 Sustainable intensification
Organised by: Farming First
The event will be structured around two main interlinked issues:

  1. What role can technology and best practices in achieving sustainable intensification?
    1. Claudia Ringler, IFPRI of a study highlighting the potential for technologies and best practices to increase productivity and reduce prices.
    2. Henning Steinfeld, Secretariat of the Global Agenda for Action in Support of Sustainable Livestock presenting their multistakeholder partnership on livestock footprint reduction
  2. How to we measure progress towards sustainable intensification
    1. Ron Bonnett, WFO and President of Canadian Federation of Agriculture “Making Progress against Environmental Indicators”
    2. Gabriela Burian, Field to Market: “Measuring progress in agriculture’s footprint – USA and Brazilian experience”

Read full event details and view presentations…

 No. 7

How can the most food insecure and vulnerable people contribute to and benefit from sustainable development?

Recommendation: #4 Reduce vulnerability
Organised by: WFP
Rio+20 offers a unique opportunity to re-energize the fight against hunger and malnutrition as part of a new vision for sustainable development. As we approach Rio+20, 1.4 billion women, men and children continue to live in extreme poverty. Almost one billion suffer from hunger, and over twice as many from hidden hunger of malnourishment and food insecurity.This learning event will bring together key stakeholders to highlight implementation barriers in supporting people that are left in hunger, poverty and food insecurity. It will focus on mechanisms and approaches that help bring poor and food insecure people that reside in the margins of development with little protection from increasing risks and shocks, into sustainable development pathways and to enable the full human development potential.In many regions these barriers are inextricably linked with environmental degradation, resource scarcity and a complex web of risk drivers, shaped by climate change, volatile markets, governance issues and other factors. No single instrument, country or agency can provide all the answers to these challenges.

This learning event will also aim at supporting the Rio+20 Conference to reaffirm the centrality of food and nutrition security for sustainable development and will focus on promoting new partnerships for ending hunger and malnutrition among vulnerable people in degraded and risk-prone rural areas and, increasingly, in poor urban settings.

Read full event details and view presentations…

 No. 8

How we can reshape food access and consumption patterns to ensure nutritional needs while fostering healthy and sustainable eating habits worldwide?

Recommendation: #5 Reshape food access and diets
Organised by: WFPIFOAMPHIBiovision
In many regions, hunger, food insecurity and poverty are linked with environmental degradation, resource scarcity and a complex web of risk drivers, shaped by climate change, volatile markets, governance issues and other factors. While under-nutrition persists in many developing countries, there is an increase burden from obesity and chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes. This is the double-burden of malnutrition which affects mainly low and medium income countries. Poverty, inequities and access issues are at the heart of this dichotomous challenge.Strategies that aim to bring co-benefits to health and the environment through sustainable food production and consumption, and food waste reduction can generate greater overall benefits for food and nutrition security, health, climate and environment protection. Sustainable diets are promoted as strategies to direct consumers choices towards more sustainable and healthy food patterns. This represents a swift towards a health promoting agriculture and food policies. In this context, we need an inclusive agriculture that is accessible to people, resilient and provides nutritious, safe and healthy food while protecting and conserving natural resources, ecosystems and their functions.Decreasing under-nutrition while promoting healthy and sustainable food production systems and consumption patterns will require strong inter-sectoral partnerships worldwide.

Read full event details and view presentations…

 No. 9

From Field to Fork to Field: Nutritious food and nutrient cycling to enhance health, wealth and resilience.

Recommendation: #6 Reduce loss and waste in food systems
Organised by: SIANI
A sustainable approach to local nutrient management needs to consider the full nutrient loop from production to consumption and back to production (field-fork-field). It needs to address soil conservation, food chain losses and organic waste recycling, including treatment and safe recycling of human excreta.Proper nutrition depends on the choice of crops grown and consumed (quantity and quality) but is also linked to nutrient recycling which enhances productivity (via macronutrients) and keeps micronutrients that essential for high quality produce within the productive loop. To gain the full advantage of the nutritious food consumed, sanitation and hygiene are key factors, since exposure to fecal pathogens has been shown to inhibit nutrient uptake in the intestines (tropical enteropathy).We will showcase the value of nutrient cycling in crop production in both Sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia. Using case studies from Niger and Philippines we will demonstrate the ‘case to scale’ effect different parts of the loop.

Our case study from Niger shows the opportunities for ‘closing the nutrient loop’ through the safe reuse of human excreta to increase production and recycle valuable nutrients in the vulnerable Sahel region. The case from Philippines will show the opportunity for closing the loop through safe reuse of human excreta in allotment urban gardening in Mindalao in the Philippines. Both cases will also demonstrate possible strategies for going to scale.

The nutrient loop draws attention to the role of recycling nutrients through the soil from humans with the aim of “curbing” the leakage of valuable nutrients from the system. The ultimate aim of preserving the nutrient loop is to improve both human nutrition and food production levels. The intimate links between food production, nutritional uptake and safe reuse of human excreta underline the need for closer collaboration between the sectors.

Read full event details and view presentations…

No. 10

Which are the loss and waste ‘hotspots’ in food systems which can be targeted and what options are available at the levels of infrastructure, farming practices, processing, distribution and household habits?

Recommendation: #6 Reduce loss and waste in food systems
Organised by: FAO
Agriculture, forestry and fisheries need to meet the food and nutritional requirements of an expanding, richer, increasingly urbanized population, while preserving ecosystems and reducing resource usage.However currently about one third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted every year, amounting to about 1.3 billion tonnes annually. Reducing such wastage would greatly reduce the resources used (such as land, water, energy, etc.) in production, transformation and transport. In addition reducing such losses would raise incomes and improve food security in the world’s poorest countries.The learning event will review why these losses are occurring along the food chain – from the production, harvest, post-harvest, processing and consumer phases – and how this differs depending on the regions and the products. Possible solutions at the level of practices, infrastructure and policy options will then be provided and discussed.

Read full event details and view presentations…

No. 11

Agriculture Knowledge Systems – How can the potential of rural advisory services be mobilized?

Recommendation: #7 Create integrated information systems
Organised by: GFRASWorld Farmers‘ Organisation
There is renewed attention to the important role of rural advisory services and extension in rural development processes. Rural advisory services are key to putting farmers’ demands at the centre of rural development, ensuring sustainable food security and poverty reduction.There are three pillars of sustainable development: social, economic, and environmental. Knowledge sharing is central to supporting these pillars, and rural extension services are a vital knowledge sharing institution. Extension plays a key linking role among actors including scientific research, field-level innovations and innovators, markets, education, and other service providers.One half of the world’s poor are smallholder farmers, and extension services that provide information, training, linkages for marketing, price discovery and economic skills provide a mechanism to break the poverty cycle. To further the environmental sustainability, including limiting deforestation, fostering biodiversity, and protecting water, extension also plays a key role in sharing information on improved practices and technology.

Clause 66 of the Rio +20 zero draft focused on the importance of agricultural knowledge. Revitalizing this system demands new pluralistic approaches that truly reflect a respect for knowledge sharing. Experts from the farming, extension and research communities will unveil the pillars of new knowledge systems for agriculture.

Read full event details and view presentations…

 No. 12

How can we measure the multiple benefits that underlie resilience?

Recommendation: #7 Create integrated information systems
Organised by: IFADICRAFEcoAgriculture
Delivering lasting poverty reduction in the face of climate change, increasing degradation and scarcity of natural resources, and market shocks requires major changes in how agriculture and rural development is understood, planned, practiced and measured. To achieve it, project and policy preparation needs to be based on a deeper risk assessment and a better understanding of interconnections among people, land uses and ecosystems, across wider landscapes. A major scaling up of support for sustainable smallholder agriculture can deliver multiple benefits including poverty reduction, increased yields, increased incomes, resilience to climate change, better environmental outcomes, and often with benefits to smallholders, reduced GHG emissions and carbon sequestration. Climate adaptation finance has the potential to bolster this work, but for agriculture and smallholders to become significant beneficiaries, it is crucial that we learn how to measure and demonstrate results in building resilience at the household level.IFAD’s Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) will pilot a results framework to measure how poor rural households’ climate resilience will be increased through targeted grant financing. The Land Health Surveillance Framework (LHSF), a tool under development by ICRAF, will also be presented in addition to the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature (LPFN) Initiative. Join us for a presentation of the ASAP framework, how the LHSF can be applied, and lessons from the LPFN Initiative that will guide an interactive discussion on the challenges and potential payoffs of measuring resilience.Read full event details and view presentations…

 No. 13

How can agricultural innovation better empower women and their key roles in food and nutrition security?

Recommendation: Gender
Organised by: GFAR
Collective failure to provide women equal access to productive agricultural resources results in a significant gap in potential agricultural production. Recent reports, including WDR 2012 on gender equality and development, provide evidence of the substantial role of women in agriculture and food and nutrition security. The FAO-SOFA showed that even just giving women equal access to land, inputs, training, credit etc, would increase their farm productivity by 20-30%, countries’ total agricultural production would increase by 2.5‐4.0%, and 100‐150 million fewer people would be hungry. Many policy makers and agricultural scientists and development professionals have yet to take account of this evidence and its implications.A radical engendering transformation of agricultural and food policies, institutions, and research and development (R&D) programmes is essential, with Governments and other actors providing the enabling policies laws and institutions that legitimize women’s rights, and women taking ownership of this transformative process.Action is required at all levels from household and community up to national, regional and international scales. The Global Conference on Women in Agriculture (GCWA), New Delhi, 13-15 March 2012, identified five priority action areas:

  • Making women/gender aspects in agriculture more visible and recognized
  • Strengthening evidence and knowledge to address gender/women’s issues in agriculture
  • Promoting collective action and leadership of women in order to take advantage of opportunities and address discrimination.
  • Establishing women’s rights at a larger scale
  • Promoting women’s ownership and control

The Gender in Agriculture Partnership (GAP) promoted by GFAR will bring action together across many institutions to directly address women’s research and innovation needs, as well as capacity development and knowledge sharing parts of this agenda, to put women producers and rural householders at the centre of institutional thinking and action.

Read full event details and view presentations…