Mitigation Update: Agriculture and Soil Management in the Spotlight

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Sapling Growth Soil Seedling Plant Green Growing

Author: Jennifer Allan | Published: March 23, 2017 

Recent news has put agriculture and soil management in the spotlight, as soil is shown as a crucial carbon reservoir, and agriculture is responsible for a significant share of New Zealand’s emissions. This Update features these and other developments, that relate to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13 (climate action).

Soil management could “make or break” climate change mitigation efforts, according to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO). Plants and other organic residues absorb carbon and keep it in the soil, creating a reservoir of carbon, that, according to FAO, could be re-released back into the atmosphere by rising temperatures and other disturbances. The report recommends better information and good practices to help end hunger (SDG 2) while adapting to and mitigating climate change (SDG 13). The report was launched at the Global Symposium on Soil Organic Carbon where Fijian president Jioji Konousi Konrote warned that “if we fail to maintain our soils as a carbon reservoir, I am afraid that these discussions and negotiations [for the Paris Agreement] would have been in vain.” [FAO Report] [FAO Press Release]

To help countries develop agricultural strategies in the context of climate change, the UNFCCC and the FAO signed an agreement that facilitate the cooperation. The agreement will include policy advice, data sharing and promotion of access to knowledge by agricultural smallholders. It will also facilitate capacity building and sharing technical expertise between the staff of the UNFCCC, FAO and developing countries’ representatives.

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