Regeneration: Updates from Around the World

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Ever since its creation in 2015, Regeneration International has been working locally to strengthen a global movement of solidarity. So far, 218 regenerative farms or projects located in 55 different countries are part of the Regeneration International Partner Network.

Since the beginning of the year, several workshops, conferences and regional and international meetings have been held to nourish and connect the global regeneration movement. Regeneration Belize held its first General Assembly. In Kenya, we will be present at World Soil Week. And in Chiapas, Mexico, we will participate in the First Mexican Congress of Agroecology.

BELIZE: Regeneration Belize Holds First Annual General Meeting in Belmopan

Regeneration Belize held its first General Assembly meeting on February 13 in the National Agriculture & Trade Show (NATS) conference room in Belmopan, compliments of the Ministry of Agriculture.

Regeneration Belize is the result of the common effort of producers, educators, consumers and educators from Belize and international allies. The first step for the formation of this group was taken during the First Tropical Agriculture Conference that took place in Belmopan in November 2018.

On March 19, Regeneración Belice organized a biocarbon workshop, by Christopher Nesbitt from Maya Mountain Research Farm and board member of Regeneration Belize, with a participation of 51 people. A seed preservation workshop is planned for June with the participation of RI, Sustainable Harvest International (SHI), the Ministry of Agriculture and others involved in seed preservation. Regeneration Belize continues to develop numerous events for 2019, from its Second Conference on Regenerative Tropical Agriculture in November to its participation in World Food Day in October.

URUGUAY: Regeneration Movement Gaining Traction in Uruguay!    

On February 14, the workshop “José Ignacio, Regenerative Lighthouse: Water and Soil Free of Agrochemicals” was held La Excusa restaurant, in José Ignacio, Uruguay. The event was held in conjunction with the local Gastronomic Fair, sponsored by several local, national and international organizations and NGOs, including Savory International.

Workshops on regenerative farming practices will be held monthly, in order to spread the regenerative movement across Uruguay. For more information, call or WhatsApp: 598-98106116.

UNITED STATES: Global Earth Repair Conference, Port Townsend, Washington (USA), May 3-5, 2019

The Global Earth Repair Conference will bring together about 500 people to talk about earth repair at local, regional, state, national and international levels. The Global Earth Repair Conference facilitates the exchange of information between earth repair practitioners.

This year’s event will focus on how to apply earth repair to urban areas, farmland, forests, rangeland, shrub steppes, deserts, streams, rivers, coral reefs, oceans and other ecosystems.  Seed collecting, earthworks, swales, nurseries, native plants, plant establishment, hoedads, live staking, sprigging, and much else will be on the menu.

MEXICO: 1er. Congreso Mexicano De Agroecología, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, May 12-17, 2019

Regeneration International and the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), together with the Mexican Seeds Network, will participate in the First Mexican Congress of Agroecology with a series of activities related to the defense of seeds and agricultural diversity.

On Wednesday, May 15, there will be workshops on seed production and on the 100% nixtamalized tortilla. There will also be a presentation of “SIEMBRA!,” an educational series on seed production, and a seed exchange.

On Thursday, May 16, there will be a table entitled “seeds and resilience: learning, resistance and construction through the defense, conservation and production of seeds,”  which will feature speakers from the academic and public sector and nonprofits.

EAST AFRICA: Global Soil Week, Nairobi, Kenya, May 27-30, 2019

Global Soil Week will bring soil scientists and practitioners to deliberate on how to create environments that enable the Land Degradation Neutrality in Africa. Regeneration International’s Precious Phiri will partner with the German Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (Viridiana Alcántara) to conduct a field trip to the Kenyan Savory Hub on the Masai Mara lands. This event will showcase the potential for soil health regeneration in the dry lands of Kenya. The hope is that this will trigger interest among scientists to partner with Savory Hubs on projects geared toward regenerating rangelands.

UNITED STATES: Green New Deal Incites Hope for Comprehensive Ag Policy Change

Regeneration International supports the Green New Deal (GND), a 10-year mobilization plan to address climate change and income inequality in the U.S. The GND offers an unprecedented opportunity to finally unite the environmental, climate, food, labor and economic justice activists in the U.S.  around one policy platform that offers solutions for the multiple crises we face.

RI is working behind the scenes in the U.S. to build a national coalition of farmers and ranchers for a GND with the ultimate goal of drafting and building support for major agricultural policy reforms to address global warming and other crises, including deteriorating public health, water pollution, the collapse of family farms and their communities, loss of wildlife and biodiversity, and low wages for farm and food industry workers.

We’ll make some important announcements about our partnership with the Sunrise Movement in the coming months. For now, if you live in the U.S., please use this form to ask your members of Congress to support the Green New Deal.

Are you a farmer or rancher in the U.S.? Please sign this letter to Congress urging support for a Green New Deal.

Thank you!

Why the Food and Regeneration Movement Should Support a Green New Deal

“The Green New Deal we are proposing will be similar in scale to the mobilization efforts seen in World War II or the Marshall Plan… Half measures will not work… The time for slow and incremental efforts has long past [sic].” – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, then-candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, Huffington Post, June 26, 2018

“Just transitioning 10 percent of agricultural production to best-practice regenerative systems will sequester enough CO2 to reverse climate change and restore the global climate. Regenerative Agriculture can change agriculture from being a major contributor to climate change to becoming a major solution.” – Andre Leu, international director, Regeneration International, “Reversing Climate Change with Regenerative Agriculture,” October 9, 2018

Photo credit: Pixabay

The ‘Great Climate Awakening’ of 2018

The final months of 2018 will likely be remembered as the decisive moment when the global grassroots awakened to the life-or-death threat posed by global warming. With violent weather and climate disasters becoming the norm, and international scientists finally shedding their customary caution to report that we must drastically slash (by at least 45 percent) global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, hundreds of millions of ordinary people across the world seemed to simultaneously wake up.

Young climate activists under the banner of the Sunrise Movement in the U.S. and the Extinction Rebellion in the UK and other countries, sat in at politicians’ offices. They blocked streets and roadways. They demanded immediate and bold action.

The Green New Deal is born

In the U.S., an insurgent slate of newly elected members of Congress, inspired by the Sunrise Movement and led by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have generated headlines and popular support by calling for a Green New Deal (GND), a 21st Century upgrade of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal carried out during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Given the severity of the climate crisis, and the deterioration of the U.S. and global status quo (economic, political, health and environment), it’s no exaggeration to state that the GND is perhaps the most significant blueprint for system change in 100 years.

The GND’s call for a mass conversion to renewable energy and zero emissions of greenhouse gases in the U.S. by 2030, is in line with what most scientists say is necessary to avoid catastrophic climate change.

But what’s new, and long overdue in this  evolving manifesto is that the GND also calls for the greening, “just transition” and elimination of greenhouse gas emissions from our multi-trillion-dollar food and farming system as well. That call is long overdue, especially given that our degenerative food system generates 44-57 percent  of all global greenhouse gases.

The GND draft statement calls for “eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from the manufacturing, agricultural and other industries, including by investing in local-scale agriculture in communities across the country.” It also calls for funding “massive investment in the drawdown of greenhouse gases.”

Beyond offering comprehensive energy and agricultural solutions for our climate emergency, what is truly game-changing and revolutionary about the GND is that it calls for system-wide economic regeneration as well: full employment, $15/hr. minimum wage, universal health care, free public education, and economic justice for all—policies extremely popular with the overwhelming majority of the body politic, including students, working class communities and low-income groups.

By bringing together the concerns of youth, food, farmer, environmental and climate activists, with the bread-and-butter concerns of workers and frontline communities, the GND offers nothing less than a contemporary roadmap for survival and regeneration.

As Alexis Baden-Mayer, political director of the Organic Consumers Association, pointed out in a recent email urging groups to sign on to the GND, it is economic injustice, the lack of money in the pockets of workers and consumers, the 80 percent of ordinary people who live from paycheck to paycheck, that has, in large part, held back the greening of America:

Who wouldn’t drive a Tesla, put up solar panels, or buy an energy efficient home in a walkable neighborhood with great public transportation? Everyone wants these things. We all want to enjoy good health, breathe clean air and drink pure water. There aren’t many families who would have to be convinced to eat locally grown organic health food if it were available and they could afford it. The problem is we’ve got student debt. Our mortgages are under water. We’ve got medical bills and childcare to pay for. And many of us have been too poor to go to college, buy a house or start a family. Our country’s struggling family farmers have the same problem. Sure, they’d love to go organic and pay their workers fairly. They want to do what’s best for their families, their communities and their environment. They just have to figure out how to avoid foreclosure and bankruptcy first.

Support grows quickly for the GND, but so do attacks

With unprecedented speed, Ocasio-Cortez, insurgent Democrats and the Sunrise Movement have stimulated massive media coverage and generated significant public support for the GND, putting radical change on the national agenda. 84 members of Congress, and 11 U.S. Senators, leading 2020 presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, hundreds of local officials, and over 600 activist organizations have already endorsed the GND.

In late-2018, polls indicated that 81 percent of Americans support full employment, economic justice and renewable energy, as outlined in the GND.

Yet despite initial strong support for the GND among activists and the general public, establishment politicians (both Democrats and Republicans) and the corporate media have launched a massive counter-attack, denouncing the GND (and Ocasio-Cortez and her allies) as “utopian,” “radical,” “impractical” and even “dangerous.”

The unfortunate truth is that Congress and the mass media are infected and dominated by powerful climate emergency deniers and establishment politicians taking money from fossil fuel companies, climate-destructive industrial agribusiness and Wall Street. Yet with global scientists sounding the alarm that the onset of runaway global warming (with atmospheric CO2 levels of 450 ppm or higher) is not 80 years away or even 50 years away, but more like a dozen years away unless we drastically change course, it can hardly be called “utopian” to organize around a bold emissions-reduction, drawdown and economic development plan that can avert catastrophe, and improve the lives of everyday people at the same time.

Painting Ocasio-Cortez and the Sunrise Movement as “radical” is not likely to derail the growing insurgency. Because a radical emergency more serious than anything humans have ever faced in our 200,000-year evolution demands a radical solution. As Cortez said in an interview on “60 Minutes” on January 6 (watched by 11 million people), she admits to being a “radical”—not unlike previous “radicals” in American history, including Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt, who likewise confronted severe crises demanding radical solutions.

Is it possible to achieve zero emissions in the U.S. by 2030?

On the same “60 Minutes” show, Ocasio-Cortez was pressed on the practicality of zero fossil fuel emissions by 2030. The host tried to trip her up by asking if zero emissions meant that all of us would be driving electric cars within a decade. She responded by saying that there are technological breakthroughs on the horizon that we can’t even imagine yet.

Although it’s undoubtedly true that there are technical breakthroughs in renewable energy and electric cars on the horizon, I wasn’t fully satisfied with Ocasio-Cortez’s answer (even though I admit she’s my favorite political leader of all time). Here’s how I would have answered that question:

“Millions of Americans are going to be driving electric cars in 2030. But you’re right, a lot of us will still be driving our old gasoline-powered vehicles. If you read the details of our proposed Green New Deal carefully, you’ll see that we’re not just talking about rapid reductions in fossil fuel emissions, the CO2 and other greenhouse gases we put up into the sky by burning fossil fuels. We’re also talking about drawing down these same greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, utilizing climate-friendly farming practices that qualitatively increase plant photosynthesis, soil fertility and natural carbon sequestration. These regenerative practices include farming organically, holistic grazing, improving soil health, and restoring our forests, grasslands and wetlands. In other words, we can and must reach zero net emissions in 2030 by drawing down as much atmospheric carbon as we’re still putting up.

“The Green New Deal aims to change not only our climate-destructive energy, manufacturing and transportation systems, but also our degenerative food and farming systems. The Green New Deal is designed to raise the living standards for all Americans, including low-income workers in both rural and urban communities, so that all of us can choose and afford healthier and more climate-friendly lifestyles. In the next decade we must facilitate a just transition away from climate-destabilizing factory farms and fossil fuel-intensive agriculture, at the same time as we switch, as rapidly possible, to 100-percent renewable energy. With renewable energy and regenerative food, farming and land use working in synergy, there is no doubt that we can reach zero net emissions by 2030, significant negative net emissions by 2050, and literally, along with the rest of the world, reverse global warming and avert climate catastrophe.”

We know what to do. The best practices and practitioners in alternative energy, infrastructure rebuilding and regenerative food and farming are already visible in or near our local communities. We simply need to mobilize politically to scale up these practices utilizing the power of a GND. But we’re running out of time unless we can quickly build a massive united front, elect new GND supporters to Congress and the White House in 2020, and pass federal legislation for a GND starting in 2021, as Ocasio-Cortez puts it, “similar in scale to the mobilization efforts seen in World War II or the Marshall Plan.”

The time to join the GND revolution is now. For more information on the Sunrise Movement’s upcoming activities, click here.

Ronnie Cummins is international director of the Organic Consumers Association and a member of theRegeneration International steering committee.

Reposted with permission from Common Dreams

New Study Confirms: Degenerative Food & Farming System Poses Mortal Threat

A new study calling for a “radical rethink” of the relationship between policymakers and corporations reinforces what Organic Consumers Association and other public interest groups have been saying for years: Our triple global crises of deteriorating public health, world hunger and global warming share common root causes—and that the best way to address these crises is to address what they all have in common: an unhealthy, inequitable food system perpetuated by a political and economic system largely driven by corporate profit.

Photo credit: Unsplash

The study, the result of three years of work by 26 commissioners from several countries, was released this week by the Lancet Commission on Obesity.  Boyd Swinburn, a University of Auckland professor and co-chair of the commission, as reported by Channel News Asia, said:

“Until now, undernutrition and obesity have been seen as polar opposites of either too few or too many calories. In reality, they are both driven by the same unhealthy, inequitable food systems, underpinned by the same political economy.”

According to the report, nearly a billion people are hungry and another 2 billion are eating too much of the wrong foods, causing epidemics of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

Boyd said that malnutrition in all its forms, including undernutrition and obesity, is by far the biggest cause of ill health and premature death globally, and that both are expected to be made “significantly worse” by climate change.

A familiar, but welcome call for reform

We have long called for the reform of our degenerative industrial agriculture system. We’ve drawn attention to the impact of industrial agriculture on global warming and deteriorating health. And we’ve highlighted the remarkable potential for organic regenerative agriculture to naturally draw down and sequester carbon, through nature’s own photosynthesis.

We’ve also called on global policymakers to connect the dots between degenerative agriculture, poor health and climate change.

We’ve said all along that the influence of self-serving corporations over policy is largely to blame for U.S. and global policymakers’ collective failure to address our degenerative food and farming system, and the devastation that system has wrought on human health and the environment.

This latest study comes at a time when climate scientists have sounded their most urgent and alarming warnings to date. It also comes at a time of keen interest in a Green New Deal, whose backers are calling for nothing less than radical solutions to the most pressing issues of our time.

Degeneration Nation: the frightening truth

Welcome to Degeneration Nation, where the frightening truth is this: Big Food companies, fast food chains, chemical and seed giants such as Bayer/Monsanto, and corporate agribusiness, aided and abetted by indentured politicians in both the Republican and Democratic parties, are slowly but surely poisoning us with unhealthy, nutrient-deficient, contaminated food.

The pesticides, GMOs, hormone disruptors and antibiotic residues in non-organic produce, grains and meat, coupled with the excessive sugar, salt and bad fats in the processed foods and beverages that make up the majority of the American diet, have supersized and degenerated the body politic. An epidemic of chronic diseases directly related to our toxic food and environment has spread across the U.S. and much of the world.

The overwhelming evidence is that human health is seriously deteriorating, and that the underlying causes of this health crisis are directly related not only to our highly toxic industrial practices, but also to our degenerate food, farming and land-management practices.

In the agricultural sector alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies more than 1,400 pesticides and 1,800 so-called “inerts” chemicals in use, in addition to a toxic stew of animal drugs, antibiotics, synthetic fertilizers and GMOs. Few of these have been properly tested, singly or in combination, for safety.

The public health and economic consequences of our degraded environment and food system are alarming. A recent Rand Corporation study found that 60 percent of Americans suffer from at least one chronic health condition, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and arthritis; 42 percent have two or more; and that these chronic diseases now account for more than 40 percent of the entire U.S. health care spending of $3.5 trillion.

One out of every two Americans will get cancer at least once in their lifetime. According to recent research, U.S. men born in 1960 have a lifetime cancer risk of 53.5 percent. For women, it’s 47.5 percent.

Seventy percent of U.S. drinking water is contaminated with Monsanto’s top-selling herbicide, Roundup, while 93 percent of consumers now have traces of this toxic poison (active ingredient glyphosate) in our urine.

The authors of “What’s Making Our Children Sick?” report that one in 13 U.S. children have serious food allergies; 6 – 24 percent have serious intestinal problems; 20 percent are obese; 60 percent have chronic headaches; 20 percent suffer from mental disorders and depression. One in every 41 boys and one in every 68 girls are now diagnosed with autism.

Beyond destroying our health, chemical and fossil fuel-intensive factory farms and GMO monocultures are polluting our water and air, degrading our soils, forests and wetlands, killing off biodiversity and heating up the planet.

The delicate rhythms of nature—the Earth’s carbon cycle circulating between the atmosphere, oceans, soils and forests, the water or hydrological cycle and the climate—are unraveling.

Cook organic, not the planet

The Lancet Obesity Commission study is clear: Climate change, obesity and poor nutrition can all be linked in some way to the mass production of processed, nutrient-poor food. This is an idea that doesn’t get as much attention as it should.

When most people think about climate-destabilizing greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the impact of fossil fuels—our non-renewable fossil fuel-based energy system for transportation and for utilities and manufacturing, including the construction and the heating and cooling of our homes, offices and buildings.

What few people understand is that a full 44-57 percent of all global GHG emissions are generated by chemical- and fossil fuel-intensive industrial farm production, food processing, packaging, refrigeration, transportation and destructive land-use practices, such as deforestation, heavy plowing, lack of cover crops and wetlands destruction.

Let’s take a closer look at the 44-57 percent of human GHG emissions coming from our industrial, GMO, factory farm food system, and compare how transitioning to regenerative food, farming and land-management practices would not only drastically reduce these emissions, but actually draw down excess atmospheric carbon and sequester it in our soils, trees and wetlands—and in the process, produce more nutrient-dense, chemical-free food.

Direct use of oil and gas in farming: 11 to 15 percent

Most climate analysts agree that fossil fuel use on farms and ranches, including chemical farm inputs (fertilizers and pesticides), is responsible for at least 11-15 percent of all global CO2, methane and nitrous oxide emissions. Most of these emissions come from the use of fossil fuel-powered farm and irrigation equipment and petroleum-derived chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

In addition, the excess manure generated by factory farms, or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) as the industry calls them, releases significant quantities of methane and nitrous oxide into the atmosphere and the oceans.

How can we reduce these on-farm emissions? By converting chemical- and energy-intensive farms to organic and regenerative crop production and planned rotational grazing and free range livestock production. This will require a combination of conscious consumers and farmers working together, on a local-to-global scale to reject factory farm, GMO, chemically tainted, highly processed food, and radical changes in public policy and investment practices.

Food- and farming-derived deforestation: 15 to 18 percent

Global “land use change” or deforestation is generally recognized as contributing to approximately 20 percent of all GHG emissions over the past 200 years.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization says that expansion of agriculture, especially for export crops such as GMO soybeans (primarily for animal feed) in Latin America, or palm oil (for biofuels and processed food) in Asia, accounts for 70-90 percent of global deforestation.

Worldwide, industrial agriculture is pushing into grasslands, wetlands and forests, destroying what were previously carbon-sequestering forests and grasslands. Food and farming’s contribution to deforestation thus accounts for 15-18 percent of global GHG emissions.

Over the next 50 years we need to preserve the forests we have left, and plant and nurture a trillion or more new trees. Since the areas of tropical forest deforestation are also the areas of greatest poverty and unemployment, reforestation and forest restoration can provide several hundred million jobs to those local residents and forest dwellers who need them most.

Food transport/food miles: 5 to 6 percent

Globally it is generally agreed that transportation accounts for 20-25 percent of all GHG emissions. According to the ETC group, “we can conservatively estimate that the transportation of food accounts for a quarter of global GHG emissions linked to transportation, or 5-6 percent of all global GHG emissions.” In the U.S. it is commonly estimated that the average food item in your grocery store or restaurant has travelled 1,500 miles before it reaches its final destination. Multi-ingredient processed foods, burn up even more food miles.

If we are to significantly reduce global emissions we will need to drastically reduce the food miles and carbon footprint of our food purchases and focus on fresh non-processed or minimally processed and packaged food produced locally and regionally, including food produced through urban agriculture. Before the second World War most food consumed in the U.S. and other industrialized nations came from a 100-mile radius of where people lived. During the Second World War, 40-50 percent of all food consumed by Americans came from urban “Victory Gardens,” while 30 percent of all food in Great Britain similarly came from urban gardens.

Food processing/packaging: 8 to 10 percent

Food processing has become a major part of the industrial food chain. In the U.S. , the overwhelming majority of food purchased in grocery stores or restaurants (70 percent) is processed food.

ETC group states that the “ . . . transformation of foods into ready-made meals, snacks and beverages requires an enormous amount of energy, mostly in the form of carbon. So does the packaging and canning of these foods. Processing and packaging enables the food industry to stack the shelves of supermarkets and convenience stores with hundreds of different formats and brands, but it also generates a huge amount of greenhouse gas emissions—some 8 to 10 percent of the global total.”

More and more consumers are recognizing that highly processed food, whether served at home or in fast food restaurants is bad for our health, and that wasteful packaging, misleading advertising and plastic bags and packages are harmful both to our health (especially children’s health) and to our environment, including the oceans.

This awareness has caused a boom in sales of fresh organic produce and animal products in natural and organic food stores and farmer’s markets. Many cities and even entire nations are now moving toward banning plastic bags. Unfortunately, U.S. consumers still spend almost half of their food dollars eating in restaurants and fast food outlets where highly processed, packaged foods dominate the menu. Similarly, in schools and cafeterias pre-cooked processed foods delivered by food service conglomerates have displayed hand-cooked meals prepared from fresh ingredients.

If we are to reduce the 8-10 percent of global fossil fuel emissions coming from food processing and packaging we will need to get back to healthy, organic, regionally produced foods, cooked from scratch with natural ingredients. This will not only benefit our health but will also be better for the health of the climate and the environment.

Food refrigeration & retail: 2 to 4 percent

Approximately 15 percent of all global electricity consumption is for cooling and refrigeration. Of course global food sourcing depends upon keeping fresh produce and animal products cold.

As ETC group says: “Considering that cooling is responsible for 15 percent of all electricity consumption worldwide, and that leaks of chemical refrigerants are a major source of GHGs, we can safely say that the refrigeration of foods accounts for some 1-2 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions. The retailing of foods accounts for another 1-2 percent.”

Again, reducing our food miles, buying locally and regionally—this is not only good for the planet, but good for our health and the economic well-being of our local farmers and ranchers as well. Until the electricity grid is converted over to renewable energy, food refrigeration, and refrigeration in general (especially air conditioning), will continue to belch out an unsustainable amount of greenhouse gases.

In the meantime we can all do our part, not only by turning down our thermostats, but by buying fresh foods produced locally and regionally, pressuring politicians to require local purchasing for schools and institutions, or better yet, by growing some of our own.

Throwing food into landfills instead of composting 3 to 4 percent

Our industrial food and farming system currently discards 30-50 percent of all the crops and the food that is produced. Not only is this a prodigious waste of the fossil fuel energy and labor involved in producing this food, but the food waste itself generally ends up in garbage dumps and landfills, (rather than being converted into compost) releasing substantial amounts of methane and other GHGs.

Quoting again from ETC Group: “Between 3.5-4.5 percent of global GHG emissions come from waste, and over 90 percent of these are produced by materials originating within the food system.”

Our planet has five pools or repositories where greenhouse gases are absorbed and stored: the oceans, the atmosphere, the soils, vegetation (plants, especially perennial plants, grasses, and forests) and hydrocarbon deposits.

Our global challenge over the next 25 years is to stop putting more carbon into the atmosphere and the oceans, leave the remaining fossil fuels (oil, coal, uranium, and natural gas) in the ground, and move a critical mass of excess atmospheric carbon (250 billion tons of carbon) back into the soil, by transitioning to regenerative food, farming and land-use practices. By doing this we will not only be able to reverse global warming—we’ll also produce healthier food and healthier people.

 

Ronnie Cummins is international director of the Organic Consumers Association and a member of Regeneration International steering committee.

Reposted with permission from Common Dreams

4p1000 Initiative: Using Agriculture to Fight Climate Change

The 4p1000 Initiative is the ONLY climate agreement that puts AGRICULTURE at the center of how we deal with climate change.

Watch the video to see how farmers on every continent are using healthy soil to create healthy people and a healthy environment.

 

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Leaders in Regenerative Agriculture Movement: It’s Time to Speed up the Cool Down

Women and Immigrant farmers, Environmentalists, Soil Scientists, Advocates and Food Security Experts Join Forces to Accelerate Action at UN Climate Change Conference (COP 24)

 

Katowice, Poland, December 10, 2018 – Today, Biovision, IFOAM-Organics International, Organic Consumers Association (OCA), Regeneration International and Shumei International announced their side event, Speed Up the Cool Down: Scaling Up Regenerative Solutions to Climate Change, at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 24) in Katowice, Poland on Wednesday, 12 December 2018 at 11:30-13:00 GMT. The delegation from Australia, India, Mexico, Switzerland, the United States, Zambia and Zimbabwe will travel to Katowice to join thousands of advocates, non-profits, soil scientists and environmentalists to push for action and solutions to drastically reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to reverse climate change.  They are part of a growing movement that aims to draw down carbon into the soil through regenerative agriculture and land management.

 

“According to a peer reviewed study in Nature, the last time the world had 400ppm of CO2 the temperatures were 16C (38F) and the sea levels were 20 to 60 meters higher,” said André Leu, International Director of Regeneration International, one of the co-organizers and a leading voice in the movement. “We have to draw down the excess CO2 with regenerative agriculture to avoid catastrophic climate change,” he added.

The “Speed Up the Cool Down” side event is focused on showcasing concrete “shovel-ready” solutions and frameworks to accelerate carbon sequestration, food sovereignty and biodiversity preservation. Speakers will present on global efforts being made to scale up agroecology, consumer campaigns, true cost accounting and policy change to create resilient communities and ecosystems.

“This year, it is necessary to build a solid framework that fosters adaptive capacity and resilience and contributes to the equitable achievement of the Paris Agreements 1.5C goal,” said Gabor Figezcky, Head of Global Policy at IFOAM – Organics International. “It is also important to safeguard key elements from the Paris Agreement preamble, namely food security, human rights, including the rights of indigenous communities, gender equality, and ecosystem integrity. Transforming our food systems is a key component to address climate change,” he added.

Speakers include: Barbara Hachipuka Banda, Founder/Director, Natural Agriculture Development Program Zambia; Hans Herren, President, Biovision, Switzerland; André Leu, International Director, Regeneration International, Australia; Mercedes López Martinez, Director, Vía Orgánica, Mexico; Shamika Mone, Treasurer and Managing Committee member of Organic Farming Association of India (OFAI); and Precious Phiri, Founding Director, EarthWisdom Consulting Co., Zimbabwe.

“Right now there are thousands of small-scale women farmers in rural Zambia working to scale up agroecology programs that support self-sufficiency, resilience, land preservation and biodiversity to avoid crop failures, hunger and forced migration caused by climate change,” said Barbara Hachipuka Banda, Founder of the Natural Agriculture Development Program Zambia. “However, we need everyone to play their part in transforming the agricultural system because we are all interconnected, and we are faster and stronger together.”

For more information on the UN Side Event, please visit: https://bit.ly/2B8z7DX

 

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About Biovision

Since 1998, Biovision Foundation has been promoting the development, dissemination and application of sustainable ecological agricultural practices, allowing people in the developing world to help themselves. Key is our holistic approach: The health of people, animals, plants and the environment are central aims in all our projects. Focusing on our key priority of Food security and sustainable agriculture, Biovision is contributing to the implementation of Agenda 2030 both globally and nationally; it takes as its point of reference SDG 2 “Zero Hunger”. Biovision Foundation is a charitable organisation in Switzerland. In 2013, Biovision and its founder Hans Rudolf Herren won the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize. For more information, visit www.biovision.ch.

 

About IFOAM-Organics International

Since 1972, IFOAM- Organics International has occupied the unchallenged position as the only international umbrella organization in the organic world, uniting an enormous diversity of stakeholders contributing to the organic vision. As agents of change, their vision is the board adaption of truly sustainable agriculture, value chains and consumption in line with the principles of organic agriculture. At the heart of IFOAM- Organics International are about 800 affiliates in more than 100 countries. For more information, visit www.ifoam.bio.

 

About Regeneration International

Regeneration International, is an international non-governmental organization that promotes, facilitates and accelerates the global transition to regenerative food, farming and land management for the purpose of restoring climate stability, ending world hunger and rebuilding deteriorated social, ecological and economic systems. For more information, visit www.regenerationinternational.org.

 

About Shumei International

Shumei International, headquartered in Japan, is an international non-governmental organization dedicated to working toward the betterment of the human community. Shumei has programs around the world that foster a way of life that is in harmony with nature through Natural Agriculture, the appreciation of art and beauty, and a balance between inner and outer development. For more information, visit www.shumei-international.org.

 

From Forced Migration to Regeneration: An Open Letter to the Citizens of the Global North

There are now 82 million migrants, mostly from the Global South, living in Europe and the United States.

Despite what you read in the media, for most us, migration is a last resort. We have been forced—by dispossession, poverty, war, climate change and government corruption—to leave our homes and land in our home countries.

We are tired of being treated as second-class citizens, as threats to the security of wealthy countries. We are tired of corrupt politicians and media that criminalize us.

Let us state clearly, here and now: We support the right of people to voluntarily migrate, and we believe in the value of diverse communities. But the vast majority of us would rather not risk our lives crossing borders, either over dangerous seas or along land routes where we are easy prey for agents of organized crime, often working in collusion with migration agents, police or governments. We would rather avoid discrimination and abuse when we arrive in foreign places, just trying to survive with our families.

However, the harsh reality is this: We can’t return home—and many more of us will have to keep leaving—until the social, environmental, political and economic conditions exist for us to live free of violence and insecurity, free of hunger and malnutrition, and until the employment and education conditions improve so that we can provide for our families and communities.

Who should create these conditions? And how?

The Global North, with its industrial-based, extractive economy, is responsible for most of the greenhouse gas emissions that have led us to this climate crisis which is threatening the survival of millions of people, and even life on Earth as we know it.

This economic model has put great pressure on the lands we used to depend on to feed ourselves. Our soils and ecosystems have been degraded to a point where they have lost their resilience in the face of severe climate events.

Without food, without hope, without an economy in service of life, we are forced to leave.

We in the Global South are bearing the burden of this crisis, and of the failure of the world to address it.

Yet, though we are the greatest victims of climate change, with the right tools, we are also the world’s greatest hope for reversing this crisis.

Scientific studies prove that the soils and forests of the Global South, managed appropriately, have the greatest potential to sequester excess CO2.

We can return to managing our lands in harmony with nature, so that we can re-stabilize the global climate and make our homes livable again—but we need your cooperation.

Our parents and grandparents and ancestors knew how to feed themselves while at the same time maintaining the natural balance between CO2 in the atmosphere and carbon in the soil and forests.

They knew how to maintain a biologically healthy and diverse environment while at the same time producing abundant, nutritious food.

They did all this without the use of climate-destabilizing chemicals and genetically engineered seeds and mono-cropping.

By tapping into this knowledge, and complementing it with modern scientific findings, we can regenerate our lands—and transform them into the largest collective carbon sink in the world

Only then can we can return home, and live prosperous, dignified lives as we did in the past.

We hear that there are billions of dollars available to address the global climate crisis.

We call on the people and governments of the Global North to unleash those funds, the majority of which are tied up in corrupt governments and bureaucratic agencies.

We ask that those funds be allowed to flow directly to the people who are ready to regenerate our lands, our farms, and our communities—for the benefit of all of us now, and for future generations.

We are not asking for charity. We are asking for the Global North to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions and lifestyles.

We ask them to cooperate with us, to work together with us.

Global North has no hope of resolving the climate crisis without tackling the vast land degradation in the Global South.

And we, millions of migrants who once depended on agriculture to sustain us, cannot return—or stay—home until our ecosystems are healthy enough to sustain us.

It is time to commit to a massive global cooperative campaign to regenerate Earth, and by doing so, regenerate our collective global social, economic and physical well-being.

Thank you.

Lead authors:

Pedro Mariano Gómez Pérez
Patricia Pérez Gómez
Abraham Gómez Paciencia
Diego López Aguilar

On behalf of the Chiapas Indigenous Migrant Coalition (Coalición Indígena de Migrantes de Chiapas)

Signees:

Viridiana Alcántara Cervantes—Iniciative 4 por 1000 Bonn
Miguel Concha Malo—Centro de Derechos humanos “Fray Francisco de Vitoria, O.P., A.C.—Distrito Federal
Arturo Vera Tenorio—Mercado Alternativo de Tlalpan Ciudad de México
Carlos Villablanca—Ecobarrio 4 Alamos Santiago
Guadalupe Meza Docente—Universitaria Guanajuato
Sara Román—Red Nacional Género y Economía (REDGE)—Benito Juarez
Rocío Miranda—Ciudad de México
Luz Maria Munoz de Cote—Mitoteras por Guanajuato—Guanajuato
Rocío Servin—Guanajuato
Pedro Luis del Ángel Rodríguez—Guanajuato
Rosario Patricia Rodríguez— R Ninguna—León
Paco Ayala—La Cuadra A.C. Huerto Roma Verde—Ciudad de México
Tania Salazar—Mexico
María Soledad Del Rocío Suárez López—Delegación Miguel Hidalgo—Mexico, D. F.
Eveline Woitrin—Rescatando los Picachos—Guanajuato
Ercilia Sahores—Regeneration International—Mexico City
Peter Mokaya—Organic Consumers Alliance(OCA)—Nairobi Kenya
Maina Azimio Azima—Wellness Consultants—Nairobi Kenya
Omoke Brian—Think Organic—Nairobi Keyna
Julie Ngigi—Spur Africa LTD Nairobi—Nairobi
Sulemana Abudulai—African Biodiversity Network—Tamale
Anne Mugo—Teacher—Nairobi
Boniface Njoroge—Bonafied Organic Ventures—Nairobi
Luse Kakunta—Unza—Lusaka
Emanuel Chibesakunda—Plant A Million Zambia—Lusaka
Fortunate Nyakanda—Zimbabwe Organic Producers and Promoters Trust—Harare
Alfred Lakwo—AFARD Nebbi—West Nile
Innocent Lawoko Muno—UNHCR Yumbe—West Nile
Ronnie Cummins—Via Organica—San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato
Roger Jones—RasX—San Miguel de Allende, GTO
Christiaan Verdegaal—Amsterdam
Fouad Yammine—Beirut
Temor Al-karawi—Eitorf
Alejandro Calvillo El—Poder del Consumidor A.C.—Ciudad de México
Adelita San Vicente Tello—Semillas de Vida—México
Azucena Mastache—Cuernavaca Morelos
Fray Gonzalo Ituarte OP—Vicaría de Justicia y Paz—San Cristobal de Las Casas
Alfredo Rubin—Red Semillas de Libertad—Buenos Aires
Barbara Icaza—Ciudad de México
Natasha Uren—Coalición de Migrantes Mexicanos—CDMX
Angélica Schenerock—Agua y Vida: Mujeres, Derechos y Ambiente AC—San Cristóbal de Las Casas
Joel Tovar—AccionMasVerde—Ciudad de México
Ellen Farmer—Collaborative Ventures—Santa Cruz
Amber Rappe—OCA—Finland
Meg—San Francisco
Ashleigh Brown—Ecosystem Restoration Camps—UK
Stefan Meyer—OCA AgroEcology Center—Finland
Kristine Bartyzel—Santa Fe
Florence Reed—Sustainable Harvest International—USA
Daniela Howell—Savory
Claudia Flisfisch—Regeneración Internacional—San Cristóbal de Las Casas
Michaela Fohmann—Schliengen
Richman Mutono—African Centre for Migration and Society—Wits University Johannesburg
Eirian Sahinkaya—Cologne
Carlos Flores—Mexico
Laura Izela Loredo Ruelas—Mexico City
Alicia Silva—Mexico
Angélica Gómez—Fondo Semillas—Ciudad de México
Wiliams Alonso Landaverry—Organización Democrática Mundial Copan—Honduras
Isabel de la Lastra—Taramundi—Asturias
Dana Stockar—Organizacion Walung Curarrehue—Araucanía—Chile
Oscar Gerardo Vargas López—IMDEC, AC—Guadalajara, Jalisco
Mariana Ortega Ramírez—Agromás S.C.—Cuautepec de Hinojosa—Hidalgo
Aurelia Nashru—Red Xotlac Amecameca—México
Natalia Lopez—Cooperativas Sin Fronteras—San Pedro—San José
Lena Bartula—Ser Mujer—San Miguel de Allende—Mexico
Laia Borges—Barcelona—Spain
Pilar Quintanilla—San Miguel de Allende—México
Fintan Lethert—Organic Consumers Association—Minneapolis—Minnesota
Henry Anton Peller—Ohio State University—Punta Gorda—Belize
Stephanie Bourdin—Paris—France
Monica Baxter—Olympia—USA
Sallie Latch—Center for Global Justice—Mexico
Judith D Schwartz—Vermont—United States
Deborah Richmond—Rewilding our Planet—England
Kathleen Arbonne—Spokane—United States
Rachel Kastner—San Miguel De Allende—Mexico
Ben Radler—Würzburg—Germany
Bernd Müller—Global Ecology Institute—Portugal
Nat B Life—Antwerp—Belgium
Pedro Leal—Portugal
Andres Balzo—Santiago de Chile—Chile
Aurora Paisim—San Pedro de Atacama—Antofagasta—Chile
Alexis Baden-Mayer—Citizens Regeneration Lobby—Washington DC
Eirian Sahinkaya—Cologne—Germany
Rebecca Bailet—Albuquerque—United States
Mia Smith—Honolulu—United States
Mathilde Berguerand Aucune—Limans—France
Ianka Mosimann—Undervelier—Suisse

Chance Encounter Leads to Tropical Ag Conference and Long-Term Commitment to Regenerating Belize

On November 13 – 15, Regeneration Belize and Regeneration International (RI) will co-host the Tropical Agriculture Conference in Belmopan.

The event, which will take place at the National Agriculture & Trade Show grounds, will feature a combination of international speakers and local experts on everything from regenerative poultry production and beekeeping to edible landscaping and greenhouse management.

Photo credit: Regeneration International

Regeneration Belize, an official RI Alliance, aims to transform Belize into a leading producer of nutrient-rich agricultural products and a showcase for carbon sequestration through soil regenerative practices.

A relatively new nonprofit, Regeneration Belize grew out of a casual encounter about a year ago (December 2017), at the ACRES USA Annual Eco-Ag Conference in Ohio. It was there that Ina Sanchez, director of research for the Belize Ministry of Agriculture, and Beth Roberson, of The Belize Ag Report, first met RI’s international director, Andre Leu.

Leu, who spoke at the conference along with Ronnie Cummins and Vandana Shiva—both founding members of RI—explained RI’s mission and how the international nonprofit was working to fulfill that mission, on a global scale. Intrigued, Sanchez and Roberson invited Leu to Belize.

Before long, Leu had offered to come to Belize in 2018 and present a three-day farmers’ workshop.

One thing led to another, and in February 2018, RI’s Latin America director, Ercilia Sahores, and RI network member Ricardo Romero traveled to Belize for discussions with about 20 people, including Belizean farmers, consumers, business leaders and NGO members, about how to spread the word in Belize about regenerative agriculture. Also attending was Belizean Senator Osmany Salas, who represents all NGOs in the legislature, and now serves on Regeneration Belize’s Advisory Group.

Sahores, Romero and others met with officials of Belize’s Ministry of Agriculture, including CEO Jose Alpuche, CAO Andrew Harrison, and Belarmino Esquivel, head of Extension Services. During those meetings, the ministry offered the use of the National Agriculture and Trade Show Grounds in the capital city Belmopan for an agriculture conference later in 2018. The conference planners agreed to have to include information for every type of Belizean farmer—small and large, conventional and organic. They also agreed to no admission fees, so that costs wouldn’t prevent interested parties from attending.

Originally, there was no vision to form a separate NGO for Belize. But it was later decided that a nonprofit would provide a vehicle for raising funds for future work, including the conference. Now as an NGO, Regeneration Belize can host an annual conference, in addition to ongoing workshops and other events useful to the agricultural sector.

For Regeneration Belize’s premier conference, RI has provided six international speakers, who will share proven methods and practices for the tropics. The speakers and their topics are: Andre Leu on topsoils; Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin on regenerative poultry; Dr. Alvaro Zapata of Fundación Cipav on integrated livestock with silvopastoral systems; Elder Adrian Calderon on regenerative beekeeping; and Ronnie Cummins on regenerative food, farming and land use as the next stages of organic and agricultural ecology.

Regeneration Belize selected 11 local experts to round out the two days of presentations, 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., at 5 different pavilions. Local experts will present on: medicinal plant gardening; native crops; biofertilizers; watershed management; biochar, turmeric & vanilla production; edible landscaping; greenhouse management and agroforestry. Wednesday sessions will be in English and Kekchi Maya. Thursday’s presentations will include some in English and others in Spanish

 

Learn more about the conference presentations here and here.

 

Beth Roberson and Dottie Feucht are founding members of Regeneration Belize.

For more information about Regeneration Belize and Regeneration International (RI), sign up RI’s newsletter.

 

 

Regeneration International Founding Member Receives Lifetime Ashoka Fellowship

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 15, 2018

Contact:
Regeneration International: Katherine Paul, 207.653 3090, katherine@regenerationinternational.org

Ashoka: Amy Clark, 202.365.3452, aclark@ashoka.org

Regeneration International Founding Member Receives Lifetime Ashoka Fellowship

Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin One of 11 Social Innovators Awarded Prestigious Fellowship in 2018

MINNEAPOLIS – Regeneration International (RI) announced today that Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin, founding and steering committee member, has been awarded a lifetime Ashoka Fellowship.

“This award is well deserved,” said Andre Leu, international director of RI. “Reginaldo has developed a unique regenerative poultry and agroforestry system that can used by small scale farmers around the world to take them out of poverty, produce high quality food and improve the environment. We hope that the recognition that comes with this award will assist in the scaling up of these important regenerative farming systems.”

Haslett-Marroquin said: “The Ashoka Fellowship comes at a time when I have personally struggled to find a crack in the wall of systems change, it opens a huge gap in it, sufficiently big to walk myself, my team and partners into a world of new possibilities, with less stress, with a world community and ecosystem of people also bent on changing the world, I feel blessed and fortunate to have this opportunity, I look forward to using it to expanding our collective capacity to draw down carbon, cool the planet, feed people healthy foods, and help bring back some dignity and purpose to the time honored profession of farming.”

Simon Stumpf, Director of Venture and Fellowship at Ashoka, said: “This group of Ashoka Fellows reminds us that even our most complex and tangled social challenges are solvable. Among these new Fellows are innovators transforming our food system, criminal justice system, workforce development sector, even the funeral industry. These people show us how to champion real, transformative change in a world that needs it.”

Ashoka evaluates more than 500 promising nominations every year in the United States and conducts hundreds of hours of in-person interviews before selecting Ashoka Fellows. This year’s Fellows come from small towns and urban centers all across the country. With creativity and commitment, they tackle complex challenges, imagine a new way forward and build it for everyone, for the good of all. They forge partnerships and pathways for everyone—all ages, backgrounds, walks of life—to contribute fully as changemakers.

Haslett-Marroquin is the principal architect of the poultry-centered regenerative agriculture model promoted by the Main Street Project, and which serves as the cornerstone of his work on behalf of RI, He also directs the Regeneration Agriculture Alliance, a platform designed for building regenerative agriculture support infrastructure. A native of Guatemala, Haslett-Marroquin, who lives in Northfield, Minnesota, earned his agronomy degree from the Central National School of Agriculture in Guatemala, and degrees in international business administration and communications from Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He has won numerous awards for his work, including the Twin Cities International Citizens of the Year (1996), and the Northfield, Minnesota, Service to Mankind Award (SERTOMA), 2008. He serves on several nonprofit boards, including the Conservation Core of Minnesota and Iowa. Haslett-Marroquin is a founding member of Regeneration International and Regeneration Guatemala. He was appointed to the RI steering committee in 2017. He is the author of “In the Shadow of Green Man.”

The other 2018 Ashoka Fellows are: Brandon Dennison, Coalfield Development, Wayne, West Virginia; Erica Gerrity, Ostara Initiative, Viroqua, Wisconsin; Jess Ladd, Callisto, San Francisco, California; Kara Bobroff, NACA Inspired Schools Network, Albuquerque, New Mexico; Katrina Spade, Recompose, Seattle, Washington; Lam Ho, Community Activism Law Alliance, Chicago, Illinois; Molly Burhans, Goodlands, New Haven, Connecticut; Rachel Armstrong, Farm Commons, Duluth, Minnesota; and Steve Miller, HBCU Truth & Reconciliation Oral History Project, Henderson, Texas.

Regeneration International is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to promoting, facilitating and accelerating the global transition to regenerative food, farming and land management for the purpose of restoring climate stability, ending world hunger and rebuilding deteriorated social, ecological and economic systems. More here. https://regenerationinternational.org/.

For 35 years, Ashoka has pioneered social entrepreneurship, an entire field dedicated to fostering energetic problem-solving right in the communities where the problems exist. Through its time-tested growth platform, it finds, vets, and supports thousands of leading changemakers in the United States and around the world. More here.  https://www.ashoka-usa.org

Navdanya Farm Hosts Third RI General Assembly in India

“Regenerative Agriculture provides answers to the soil crisis, the food crisis, the health crisis, the climate crisis and the crisis of democracy.” Vandana Shiva

Thirty eight representatives from more than thirty organizations met at Dr. Shiva’s Navdanya Farm to network and explore next steps for Regeneration International, a cooperative of stake holders committed to promoting small scale organic farming as a solution to climate change.

The meetings began with introductions and short presentations about each participant’s work, which ranges from soil science to filmmaking. The group represented seventeen countries from Africa, Asia and Europe, as well as North, South and Central America.

The diversity of the groups’ roots was fitting, given that many participants attended the International Biodiversity Conference that took place at the Forest Research Institute in Dehradun over three days before.

After introductions, there were more in-depth reports from Belize,

Brazil, India, Kenya, Lesotho, Mexico, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Tanzania, United States, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

There was much interest in each region’s various strategies and challenges. One benefit of the meeting was the opportunity for the different countries to come together and share information about their work, that has a little-known but profoundly positive impact on climate change.

In the spirit of action and inspiration, Becket Films screened a soon-to-be finished cut of The Seeds of Vandana Shiva, a documentary about Dr. Shiva’s life of activism for a regenerative and peaceful world.

The next part of the meeting centered on strategies for the future and how the Regeneration International network can scale up and support the work of its members.

First there was clarification of the mission: Regeneration International exists to promote the message and practice of organic food, fiber and farming that regenerates the environment, the climate and human communities. This means that the regeneration is inclusive of partners working with nature to restore the health and biodiversity of soil, seed, water, land, food and fiber in ways that also supports the rights and welfare of small farmers, women, the indigenous, and other minorities.

There was consensus to use the film, The Seeds of Vandana Shiva as a tool for education, outreach and fundraising for our affiliate groups.

The meeting looked forward to UNFCC COP25, scheduled to take place in Brazil in November 2019 where participants decided the next international gathering of Regeneration International partners should take place. Despite the 4/1000 initiative that was signed at COP15, the issue of agriculture and food systems is still fundamentally ignored by the COP and the climate movement. For this reason it is Regeneration International’s agenda at COP25 to bring greater attention to the issue of small scale organic food and farming as a solution for climate change.

The meeting concluded with resolutions to deepen relationships, to continue to share experiences and information, to support and broadcast partners’ initiatives, and to work together on planning for COP25.

Reversing Climate Change through Regenerative Agriculture

This year’s Acres U.S.A. Conference features numerous speakers, who can show how we can reverse the disruptive effects climate change by adopting best practice regenerative production systems. These systems will also make our farms and ranches more productive and resilient to the current erratic climate disruption that we are all facing.

The increasing erratic and disruptive weather events caused by climate change are the greatest immediate threat to viable farming and food security. We are already being adversely affected by the longer and more frequent droughts, and irregular, out-of-season and destructive rainfall events.

The world is already around 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) warmer than the industrial revolution. The energy needed to heat the atmosphere by 1.8 degrees is equivalent to billions of atomic bombs. I am using this violent metaphor so that people can understand how much energy is being released into our atmosphere and oceans and why we will get more frequent and stronger storms wreaking havoc in our communities.

This extra energy is violently fueling and disrupting our weather systems. It means storms are far more intense. Winter storms will be colder and can be pushed further south and north than normal due to this energy. Similarly, summer storms, especially hurricanes, cyclones, tornadoes, typhoons, tropical lows, etc., are far more intense with deluging destructive rainfall.

Droughts are more frequent and are resulting more frequent and damaging forest and grass fires that are changing the ecology due to not allowing time for recovery. The current intense northern hemisphere heatwave, global drought and unprecedented number of ferocity of forests fires are being exacerbated by climate change.

The frequency and intensity of these types of events will only get exponentially worse when the world warms to 3.6 degrees, which is the upper limit that the Paris climate meeting agreed to.

Some people don’t really care if the world is 3.6 degrees warmer — however it is not the average temperatures that are the concern, but rather the regular extremes, especially the out-of-season heatwaves and rain events, that we are experiencing now.

Managing Climate Change Now

Atmospheric CO2 levels have been increasing at 2 parts per million (ppm) per year. The level of COreached a new record of 400 ppm in May 2016. This is the highest level of CO2 in the atmosphere for 800,000 years. However, in 2016, despite all the commitments countries made in Paris in December 2015, the levels of CO2 increased at record levels in 2016 (3.3 ppm of COentered the atmosphere, creating a new record).

According to the World Meteorological Organization, “Geological records show that the current levels of COcorrespond to an ‘equilibrium’ climate last observed in the mid-Pliocene (3-5 million years ago), a climate that was 2-3 °C (3.6 – 5.4° F) warmer, where the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets melted and even some of the East Antarctic ice was lost, leading to sea levels that were 10-20 meters (30-60 feet) higher than those today.”

Global sea level rises will cause the atoll island countries, large parts of Bangladesh, Netherlands, coastal United States, New York, New Orleans, Miami, San Francisco/Bay Area, London, Manila, Bangkok, Jakarta, Shanghai, Singapore, Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, Perth and other low lying areas to go under water

Even if the world transitioned to 100 percent renewable energy tomorrow, this will not stop the temperature and sea level rises because it will take more than 100 years for the CO2levels to drop. These sea level rises will cause a huge refugee crisis for over a billion people by 2050 and throw our planet into chaos. The world cannot cope with 2 million refugees from Syria. How do we cope hundreds of millions of climate change refugees? There will be wars over food, water and land.

The fact is we have to speed up the transition to renewable energy and we have to make a great effort to draw down the COin the atmosphere.

The Solution Is Under Our Feet!

In order to stop the present increase in atmospheric CO2, agricultural systems would have to sequester 2.3 ppm of CO2 per year. Using the accepted formula that 1 ppm CO2 = 7.76 Gt CO2 means that 17.85 Gt of CO2 per year needs to be sequestered from the atmosphere and stored in the soil as soil organic carbon (SOC).

Stopping the increase in GHGs and then reducing them must be the first priority, and this should be non-negotiable. Moving to renewable energy and energy efficiency will not be enough to stop the planet from warming over the next hundred years and going into damaging climate change. The amount of 405 ppm is past the level needed to meet the Paris objective of limiting the temperature increase to +1.5/2°C (2.7/3.6° F). The levels need to be well below 350 ppm. The excess CO2 must be sequestered from the atmosphere to stop damaging climate change.

Soils are the greatest carbon sink after the oceans. There is a wide variability in the estimates of the amount of carbon stored in the soils globally. According to Professor Rattan Lal, there are over 2,700 gigatons (Gt) of carbon stored in soils. The soil holds more carbon than the atmosphere (848 Gt) and biomass (575 Gt) combined. There is already an excess of carbon in the oceans that is starting cause a range of problems. We cannot put any more CO2 in the atmosphere or the oceans. Soils are the logical sink for carbon.

Most agricultural systems lose soil carbon with estimates that agricultural soils have lost 50-70 percent of their original SOC pool, and the depletion is exacerbated by further soil degradation and desertification. Agricultural systems that recycle organic matter and use crop rotations can increase the levels of SOC. This is achieved through techniques such as longer rotations, ground covers, cover crops, green manures, legumes, compost, organic mulches, biochar, perennials, agro-forestry, agroecological biodiversity and livestock on pasture using sustainable grazing systems such as holistic grazing. These systems are starting to come under the heading of “regenerative agriculture” because they regenerate SOC.

Regenerative Agriculture Potential

BEAM (Biologically Enhanced Agricultural Management), is a process developed by Dr. David Johnson of New Mexico State University, that uses compost with a high diversity of soil microorganisms. BEAM has achieved very high levels of sequestration. According to Johnson et al., “… a 4.5 year agricultural field study promoted annual average capture and storage of 10.27 metric tons soil C ha-1 year -1 while increasing soil macro-, meso- and micro-nutrient availability offering a robust, cost-effective carbon sequestration mechanism within a more productive and long-term sustainable agriculture management approach.” These results have since been replicated in other trials.

Soil Organic Carbon x 3.67 = CO2 which means that 10.27 metric tons soil C ha-1 year -1 = 37.7 metric tons of CO2 per hectare per year. (38,000 pounds of CO2 per acre per year – close enough)

If BEAM was extrapolated globally across agricultural lands it would sequester 184 Gt of CO2/yr.

Regenerative Grazing

The Savory Institute, Gabe Brown and many others have been scaling up holistic management systems on every arable continent. There is now a considerable body of published science and evidence-based practices showing that these systems regenerate degraded lands, improve productivity, water holding capacity and soil carbon levels.

Nearly 70 percent of the world’s agricultural lands are used for grazing. The published evidence is showing that correctly managed pastures can build up SOC faster than many other agricultural systems and that it is stored deeper in the soil.

Research by Machmuller et al. 2015: “In a region of extensive soil degradation in the southeastern United States, we evaluated soil C accumulation for 3 years across a 7-year chronosequence of three farms converted to management-intensive grazing. Here we show that these farms accumulated C at 8.0 Mg ha−1 yr−1, increasing cation exchange and water holding capacity by 95 percent and 34 percent, respectively.”

To explain the significance of these figures: 8.0 Mg ha−1 yr−1 = 8,000 kgs of carbon being stored in the soil per hectare per year. Soil Organic Carbon x 3.67 = CO2, means that these grazing systems have sequestered 29,360 kgs (29.36 metric tons) of CO2/ ha/yr.

If these regenerative grazing practices were implemented on the world’s grazing lands they would sequester 98.5 gt CO2 per year.

Conclusion

Just transitioning 10-20 percent of agricultural production to best practice regenerative systems will sequester enough CO2 to reverse climate change and restore the global climate. Regenerative agriculture can change agriculture from being a major contributor to climate change to becoming a major solution. The widespread adoption of these systems should be made the highest priority by farmers, ranchers, governments, international organizations, industry and climate change organizations.

André Leu is international director of Regeneration International. He is a longtime farmer in Australia and past president of the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements. He is the author of The Myths of Safe Pesticides and Poisoning Our Children, published by Acres U.S.A.