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International Symposium in Johannesburg Will Highlight the Role of Soil as the Solution to Food Security and Climate Stability

It all started over lunch during the COP 23 Climate Summit in Bonn, Germany, in November 2017. An idea shared over lunch led to a few back-and-forth emails—and here we are: announcing the “4 per1000 Africa Symposium on Soil for Food Security and Climate.” The Symposium will be held October 24-26 (2018), in Johannesburg, South Africa.

During its third meeting, held in Bonn, the Consortium (governing body) of the French government’s “4 per 1000: Soils for Food Security and Climate” Initiative met to discuss next steps, or as they referred to it, their “Roadmap 2018.” (Never heard of the 4 per 1000 Initiative? Learn more here.) Consortium members highlighted the need to organize regional networks that could draw attention to the global policy initiative, and pressure policymakers to incorporate the initiative’s climate solution into their overall strategy for meeting the goals established by the Paris Climate Agreement.

That’s when I, representing Regeneration International (RI), suggested that we find allies to host an African “4 per 1000” symposium—and now that suggestion has become a reality. We are about to spread the news, to a wide audience in South Africa, about the great potential of regenerative agriculture and land management to heal South Africa’s soils, increase food security in the region, and restore climate stability.

It’s been important for RI to find a platform to bring together players in soil health, food security and climate health. However we also realize the importance and power of partnerships. That’s why we’re thrilled and honored to be organizing this symposium in partnership with the South Africa-based NEPAD Agency, through its Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), and France’s The 4/1000 Initiative. The timing is perfect for partnering with the NEPAD Agency’s programs—the partnership anchors RI within the CAADP framework which African governments, under the African Union, have signed onto to promote and mainstream the concept of agro-ecological organic regenerative agriculture.

This symposium is much needed at this time, when South Africa, and all of the global south, faces a series of crises. Landscapes are deteriorating every day due to poor management decisions. Year after year, we see a continuous downward spiraling in food security, wildlife habitat, healthy societies and livelihoods.

Small-scale food producers are especially vulnerable to climate disruption, including droughts and flooding. In the restoration of soil carbon, we see tremendous opportunity to build resilience and to not only mitigate, but eventually reverse global warming. What a better way to regenerate both the environment and societies in a continent where agriculture still holds a high place of importance?

The soil is a true ally on the climate crisis front, and Africa has potential to play a big role in this solution journey. Transitioning to regenerative agriculture and land management can help countries fulfill their pledges to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) while nourishing the earth and their populations.

The “4 per1000 Africa Symposium on Soil for Food Security and Climate” will be the first event in South Africa dedicated to communicating the message and strategy behind the “4 per 1000” Initiative. The symposium will bring international stakeholders together with international experts and practitioners to engage in an open debate and to share experiences and lessons on the relationship between soil and climate and the benefits of soil health in supporting all forms of life.

Participants will also have the opportunity to learn more about the work and initiatives that are taking place in Africa, including CADDP and African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100), to name a few. We hope the symposium will help build strong support for the “4 per 1000” Initiative and the concept of regenerative agriculture in general.

The symposium is funded in part by RI, NEPAD, the 4 per 1000 Initiative, the German and French governments and registration fees.

Precious Phiri is a member of the Regeneration International (RI) steering committee and also serves as RI’s Africa coordinator. She is the director of IGugu Trust and founding director of EarthWisdom Consulting Co. To keep up with RI news, sign up here for our newsletter.

Video: ‘Celebrating Soil on World Soil Day’

Published: December 4, 2017 

Two years have passed since the 4 per 1000 Initiative was first launched in Paris on December 1, 2015. Learn more about the global plan to naturally increase carbon in soils via this brief overview on the progress of the 4p1000 Initiative.

WATCH MORE VIDEOS FROM RI HERE

Regeneration International: Report and Lessons from COP23

Regeneration International (RI) sent a small delegation to the COP23 Climate Summit in Bonn, Germany. Our delegation consisted of: a German-French, an English-French, a Zimbabwean and an Argentine. What sounds like the beginning of a joke—a German, an Englishman, a Zimbabwean and an Argentine walk into a bar—turned out to be a great combination of different skill sets, languages, cultures, experiences . . . and lots of porridge for breakfast.

The RI team set off for the COP23 Climate Summit with a clear mission and some concrete goals:

  1. To film and document experiences of best practitioners and official delegations pushing for a regenerative agenda and for initiatives looking to better the soil, health and livelihood of communities.
  2. To organize side events focused on the role of women in fighting climate change.
  3. To follow closely the official negotiations related to agriculture.
  4. To participate in the 4 per 1000: Soils for Food Security and Climate Initiative day to learn more about the initiative and how we can help facilitate democratic, inclusive participation in its constituency.
  5. To organize an informal gathering, outside the COP23 venue, for farmers, producers, activists, policymakers and media.
  6. To document positive outcomes that could signal progress from previous COPs, but also to identify red flags, setbacks and potential threats.

We’re pleased to report that we obtained some good results:

  1. Filming and documenting. RI interviewed Barbara Hachipuka Banda, from Shumei, who teaches small scale women-farmers about “natural agriculture,” covered a story on how millions of farmers are using trees to regenerate vast swaths of land across Africa, talked to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in Ethiopia about Ecosystem Restoration, and discussed the fundamental issue of the supersized climate footprint of Big meat and Dairy.
  2. Organization of side events. RI co-organized, with WECAN, side events where grassroots and indigenous women leaders shared their experiences, actions and defense of forests and biodiversity, their advocacy for regeneration and agroecological implementation, their resistance against fossil fuels and their defense, in every place and time, of rights of nature.

  1. Strong participation in 4 p 1000 meetings. RI attended the 4 per 1000 Initiative’s second Meeting of the Forum in Bonn on November 16, 2017. (We also attended the first meeting, held in November last year at the COP22 summit in Marrakesh, and a funding meeting in Meknes, Morocco, in April 2016. Our reports are here and here.

The mission of the 4 per 1000 Initiative, according to its website, is “to help member countries and organizations to develop projects, actions and programs based on scientific knowledge that lead to the protection and increase of stocks of soil organic carbon (SOC) at an ideal rate of 4/100 (0.4%) per year.”

This most recent meeting included a high-level segment in the morning, with agricultural ministers from several countries, including: the new French Minister (in a clear gesture from the new French government of the continuation of French support to the initiative); Spain, one of the biggest financial allies in support of the initiative; and Hungary and Tunisia. FAO Director Eduardo Mansur, UNCCD lead scientist Barron Orr, and several others also spoke at the meeting.

Highlights from the 4 per 1000 meeting include:

  • Familiarization with the research priorities of the 4 per 1000 Scientific and Technical Committee, which include a focus on soil organic carbon sequestration and its role in reducing global climate change, how to estimate SOC storage potential, the development of management practices, and how to monitor, report and verify results.
  • The committee has also developed a set of reference criteria and indicators to assess regenerative projects identified by members of the consortium, which could eventually qualify for funding so that they can be improved and expanded.
  • Unveiling of the new 4 per 1000 website which includes more information on the role and structure of the consortium of governance of the initiative, the forum of partners, the scientific and technical committee, and ways to participate. 
  1. Co-Organization of “Speed up the Cool Down” event. On November 15, Biovision, IFOAM Organics International, Shumei International, Terra Genesis International and RI organized a Speed up the Cool Down event. Over 50 people, including farmers, climate justice activists, indigenous and women’s rights advocates, agroecologists, and the growing regenerative agriculture movement came together at IFOAM Organics International Headquarters to learn and collaborate on ways to reverse climate change.

The event allowed RI to provide a positive communication space for a growing network of regenerators who are putting carbon back into the ground and doing it in a sustainable and natural way using organic regenerative farming and land-use practices.

   

Positive outcomes, potential threats

 As with past climate summits, COP23 revealed what’s going right with the climate movement, and what’s not—the proverbial case of the good, the bad (or in this case, neutral) and the ugly.

We identified a few positive (“the good”) outcomes, including:

  1. Adoption of the Koroniva Joint Work on Agriculture. After COP 17 brought agriculture into the negotiations, the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advance (SBSTA), a technical body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was asked to give recommendations on agriculture during in-session workshop and meetings.

The Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture will work with the SBSTA and the UNFCCC’s Subsidiary Body of Implementation (the SBI) to address issues related to agriculture, so that the issue of agriculture as a climate solution moves beyond the scientific and technical aspects to implementation.

The focus of the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture includes:

  • Modalities for implementing the outcomes of the in-session workshops organized over the past years.
  • Methods and approaches for assessing adaptation, adaptation co-benefits and resilience.
  • Improved soil carbon, soil health and soil fertility under grassland and cropland as well as integrated systems, including water management.
  • Improved nutrient use and manure management towards sustainable and resilient agricultural systems.
  • Improved livestock management systems.
  • Socioeconomic and food security dimensions of climate change in agriculture.

RI will join countries, stakeholders and other observer organizations in submitting recommendations before the next session of subsidiary bodies in April-May 2018.

  1. Creation of the Tanaloa Dialogue. This is a space created in Bonn to give room to inclusive and participatory processes that allow governments, civil society, private sector and researchers to share stories and showcase best practices on how to raise the bar for nationally determined contributions (NCDs). This could turn out to be a positive development, depending on how it’s implemented and whether the private sector attempts to co-op it.
  2. Adoption of a gender platform. This platform, which includes a gender action plan and a local communities and indigenous peoples platform, was operationalized with the goal to strengthen the knowledge, technologies, practices, and efforts of local communities and indigenous peoples related to address climate change.
  3. Syria joined the Paris Climate Accord. That makes the U.S. the only country in the world to opt out of the global climate agreement.

In addition to the above “good” outcomes, we observed a few that were a bit more on the “neutral” side, including:

  1. U.S. mayors, cities and states pledge to support the Climate Agreement. In a public rebuke of Trump’s withdrawal, they made the hashtag #wearestill a viral sensation at COP23. Their pavilion, one of the largest ones at the summit (in keeping with U.S. tradition), hosted continuous talks and events. The downside? Major sponsors included Mars, Inc. and Walmart—not exactly pillars of the climate movement.
  2. China takes the lead. Under the Obama administration, the U.S. was considered a leader in the global climate movement. Now that the U.S. has withdrawn, China is at the helm of that ship.

And then, there’s the “ugly,” which we put in the “science fiction” portion of the COP23 program. Largely promoted by the U.S. lobby, military-like, risky climate “solutions,” such as geoengineering, popped up at almost every side event during the two-week summit.

So concerning is the geoengineering talk, that we devoted an entire article to it. Read our report on the impact these “solutions” could have on the planet and their potential for gaining traction, given their financial attractiveness to investors.

Ercilia Sahores is political director for the Organic Consumers Association – Mexico, and a representative of Regeneration International.

24 U.S. Farmer Organizations #Still-In on the Paris Agreement

Author: Michael Peñuelas | Published: November 2017

The international community will gather in the second week of November to evaluate the progress that the 196 signatory countries to the Paris Climate Agreement have made since 2015. This will be the first global meeting of the signatories since President Donald Trump threatened to withdraw the United States (U.S.), the world’s second most significant emitter, from the agreement.

For American farmers and ranchers, climate change is an economic issue. A stable agricultural industry depends on a stable, predictable climate.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) projects that climate change will increase the variability of pest pressures, disease prevalence, temperature swings, and precipitation patterns across the U.S., as well as the regularity of extreme events including storms, floods, dry spells, sustained drought, and heat waves.

The Paris Agreement’s central aim is to coordinate efforts to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100. Global temperatures are already up at least 0.85 degrees Celsius (1.53 degrees Fahrenheit) when averaged over all land and ocean surfaces, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The agreement supports countries in sharing resources to combat the sources of climate change and adapt to its effects. It provides support to developing countries who are responsible for the smallest share of planet-warming emissions.

In light of the Trump Administration’s position on the Paris Agreement, thousands of businesses and organizations from across U.S. civil society have signed the “We Are Still In” declaration, committing to pursue the goals of the Agreement. More than 1,700 businesses and investors signed, alongside 327 colleges and universities. Simultaneously, the mayors of 381 cities signed the #ClimateMayors pledge and the governors of 12 states plus Puerto Rico joined the United States Climate Alliance. Both groups support the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Major agriculture-related corporations either urged President Trump not to withdraw or criticized the action, including CargillDowDuPont, and Monsanto, as did major food companies, including Campbell’sCoca-ColaDannonGeneral MillsKelloggMarsMondelez (formerly Kraft Foods), and Unilever, among many others.

KEEP READING ON FOOD TANK

‘Four for 1000’: A Global Initiative to Reverse Global Warming Through Regenerative Agriculture and Land Use

“Four for 1000”: Burning Questions

Question One: What is the “Four for 1000: Soils for Food Security and Climate” Initiative launched by the French government at the Paris Climate Summit in December 2015?

Answer: “Four for 1000: Soils for Food Security and Climate” is a global plan and agreement to reverse global warming, soil degradation, deteriorating public health and rural poverty by scaling up regenerative food, farming and land use practices.

Under this Initiative, over the next 25 years, regenerative agriculture and large-scale ecosystem restoration can qualitatively preserve and improve soils, pastures, forests and wetlands while simultaneously drawing down (through enhanced plant photosynthesis) billions of tons of excess carbon from the atmosphere, turning it into biomass and sequestering it in our soils.

In simplest terms, 4/1000 calls for the global community to draw down as much CO2 from the atmosphere as we’re currently emitting, and at the same time stop emitting other greenhouse gases.

Question Two: How many countries and regions of the world have signed on to the 4/1000 Initiative?

Answer: Approximately 40 countries and regions of the world have already signed on to the 4/1000 Initiative. Hundreds of grassroots civil society organizations also have signed on.

Proponents of 4/1000 expect most nations, regions and cities will sign on to the Initiative before the end of this decade, to meet their INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Commitments) obligations under the Paris Climate Agreement.

Countries already signed on include: France, Germany, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Ivory Coast, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Morocco, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, and Uruguay.

Question Three: Does the 4/1000 Initiative propose that we can reverse global warming and feed the world without drastically reducing fossil fuel emissions?

Answer: No. The proponents of the 4/1000 Initiative believe that we need to achieve both zero fossil fuel emissions and maximum drawdown of excess CO2 from the atmosphere over the next 25 years.

Question Four: Why is this global Initiative called the “Four for 1000 Initiative?”

Answer: 4/1000 refers to the average percentage of soil carbon increase that we need to achieve every year for the next 25 years in order to stabilize the climate and reverse global warming.

A 4/1000 increase in the amount of carbon stored in global soils (currently 1.5-2.5 trillion tons, depending on how deep you measure the carbon) over the next 25 years, combined with zero fossil fuel emissions, will enable us to sequester enough additional carbon (150-250 billion tons, or 6-10 billion tons per year) in our soils and forests to bring the atmosphere back to the pre-industrial level of 280 ppm of CO2 required to stabilize the climate, increase soil fertility, improve public health, secure food sovereignty, reduce global strife, and reverse global warming.

Question Five: Is it really possible to achieve the 4/1000 carbon drawdown goal of sequestering 6-10 billion tons of carbon per year, and continuing this for the next 25 years?

Answer: Yes, it is possible for global regenerative food, farming and land use (including forestry) practices to sequester 6-10 billion tons of carbon per year. How do we know this? Because the earth’s 22 billion acres of farmland, pasture and forests—even in their currently degraded condition—are already sequestering a net 1.5 billion tons of carbon annually. And because millions of organic or transition-to-regenerative farmers and ranchers and—“best practitioners”—are already sequestering far more than 4/1000 percent in additional soil carbon every year. Some report sequestering as much as 600 times this amount.

Question Six: What are the respective roles of consumers, farmers and other sectors in moving to a regenerative system of food, farming and land use?

Answer: Regenerative food, farming and land use will require a radical transformation in consciousness and in purchasing habits among a critical mass of 3-4 billion food and fiber consumers in the global North and the South.

On a global scale, consumers will need to move away from purchasing trillions of dollars of chemical, GMO and energy-intensive industrial agriculture foods, including meat, dairy and poultry from factory farms, and highly processed and packaged foods. Consumers also will need to eliminate food waste.

Reversing climate change and feeding the world will also require a transformation in production practices by a critical mass of the world’s 500 million small farmers, 200 million herders and 50 million large farmers. Regenerative farming methods include: holistic management and planned rotational grazing of livestock; cover-cropping; no-till practices; agro-forestry; diverse crop rotations, including integrating livestock grazing; use of compost, manure and biochar; and use of deeper-rooting plants and perennials. Synthetic fertilizers and herbicides, and GMO monocultures are not included in regenerative farming methods.

Forest and fishing communities, homeowners and the approximately one billion urban food producers, gardeners and landscape managers also have a major role to play in the transition to regenerative agriculture and land-management system.

Question Seven: Is regenerative food and farming the same as organic, agro-ecological farming or rotational grazing?

Answer: No. Most practitioners of organic, agro-ecological and rotational grazing methods, certified or not, can be described as “potentially regenerative” or in “transition to regenerative.”

There are a number of terms used to describe ecological farming and ranching practices across the world, including agro-ecology, agro-forestry, permaculture, biodynamic, holistic management or grazing, conservation agriculture, organic, and others. All these agricultural systems support soil conservation practices to a certain degree. However, only regenerative food and farming has as its central focus the maximization of soil health, carbon sequestration and biodiversity.

Question Eight: What are the main driving forces of global warming and climate instability? What roles do industrial agriculture, factory farming, GMO seeds, food processing, packaging, food waste, and mindless consumerism play in emitting greenhouse gases and degrading the soil and forests’ ability to sequester carbon and enhance biodiversity?

Answer: If you look closely at the entire process (often called the “carbon footprint”) of global food, farming and land use, our current chemical- and GMO-intensive, industrial, globalized, wasteful and highly processed system of food and fiber produces an alarming 44%-57% of all greenhouse gas emissions, including CO2, methane and nitrous oxide.

Of this 44%-57% figure, the majority of emissions come from the world’s 50 million large industrial, chemical and GMO-intensive farmers and factory farms, who control 75% of all farm and, and produce 30% of the world’s food. (These figures contrast sharply with the role played by the 500 million smallholder farms and 200 million small herders who cultivate crops and graze animals on 25% of the land, while producing 70% of the world’s food).

In terms of the categories of food and farming greenhouse gas emissions this 44%-57% figure breaks down as follows:

• direct use of oil and gas in farming: 11%-15%

• deforestation 10%-15%

• transport 5%-6%

• processing and packaging 8%-10%

• freezing and retail 2%-4%

• waste 3%-4%.

We’ll never reach zero fossil fuel/greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, much less sequester a critical mass of excess atmospheric CO2, without a fundamental transformation of our entire food, farming, and land use system.

Question Nine: What is the current market share of Regenerative food and farming versus degenerative?

Answer: Global consumers living beyond the bare subsistence level (approximately 50% of the world’s population), as opposed to those three billion or more living at subsistence level, now spend $7.55 trillion on food. Much of that food is produced by the world’s 50 million large farmers and ranchers, who use degenerative, rather than regenerative practices.

Of course many of the world’s 700 million small subsistence farmers and herders are also using chemicals, grazing animals improperly, undermining soil fertility, and destroying wetlands and forests under the pressures of poverty and because they lack of access to good land, technical assistance, financing, markets and other resources.

About 75% of all food sold today in the Global North and among the middle classes of the developing world is low-nutrient processed food. And almost half of total food produced is either wasted or overconsumed.

The hidden costs of our degenerative food and farming system are staggering: $4.8 trillion in annual expenditures for social, health and environmental damages. (ETC Group, “Who Will Feed the World?” 2017)

There is very little food and fiber produced today that can genuinely be described as 100% regenerative. In terms of less degenerative or potentially “transition to regenerative,” the global certified (or non-certified) organic food, grass-fed and sustainably produced food market is considerably less than $1 trillion.

Question Ten: What is most important in terms of driving food, farming and land use in a regenerative direction: public policy or marketplace demand?

Answer: Both are essential. So far marketplace demand and the survival of traditional farming and animal husbandry practices are driving regenerative and potentially regenerative food, farming and land use, although support for organic and grass- fed production is increasing in some regions, especially the U.S. and Europe. In some countries most of the beef production is currently 100% grass-fed (Australia and Uruguay for example), and therefore at least semi-regenerative.

Unfortunately, governments of the world provide $600 billion a year or more in subsidies to industrial agriculture, GMOs, globalized exports and factory farms. Only a fraction of government subsidies go to organic, grass-fed, or what can be called “transition-to-regenerative” practices.

In the long run we will need both marketplace pressure and billions of dollars in annual public policy/public financing to move the majority of the world’s 750 million farms and ranches in a regenerative direction, as well as to carry out large-scale ecosystem restoration, reforestation and wetlands preservation.

Question Eleven: How can conscious consumers and the current minority of regenerative farmers, ranchers and land managers get more of their counterparts on board?

Mass public education for consumers, farmers and land managers on the health, environmental, social, economic, and climate benefits of regenerative food, farming and land use, combined with free technical assistance, training and financial incentives for farmers will be necessary to move from degenerative consumption and production practices to regenerative.

In each local area, region and nation best practices and practitioners will need to be identified and publicized. We also will need to establish regenerative pilot projects, provide farmer-to-farmer education, and scale up of public policy reform and financing.

Question Twelve: How many farmers, herders, ranchers and land managers are currently carrying out regenerative, or potentially regenerative, as opposed to degenerative, practices?

Answer: There are 2.5 million certified organic farms in 120 nations that can be characterized as potentially regenerative or transition-to-regenerative. There are probably 10-20 times more who are farming organically (but are not certified) and are supplying their families and local markets.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that 25-50 million of the world’s 750 million farms are utilizing traditional, sustainable practices, and could potentially make the transition to regenerative practices with sufficient technical and financial assistance.

Question Thirteen: What percentage of consumers and farmers will have to adopt regenerative production and consumption practices if we are to meet the goals of the Four for 1000 Initiative?

Answer: Focusing on the world’s current 25-50 million “potentially regenerative” farmers, herders and ranchers, we need to move these sustainable producers into full or near-full regenerative mode over the next five years (2017-2022). At the same time, we need to move another 50 million from chemical or degenerative practices into transition-to-regenerative practices (organic, whether certified or not, grass-fed, permaculture, agro-ecological). Then we need to double this pace between 2022-2027, so that we end up in 10 years with 100 million regenerative producers and another 100 million “transition-to-regenerative” producers.

By 2032 we need to accelerate this process so as to have the majority of the world’s farmers, herders and land managers (400 million or so farms and ranches) involved in regenerative or near regenerative practices. During this same time periode, 2017-2032, we will have to make a rapid transition to 100% renewable energy, and convert the majority of the world’s consumers to regenerative thinking and purchasing.

All of this presupposes strong marketplace pressure on food and fiber corporations to transfer from degenerative to regenerative supply chains, and fundamental changes in government policy by cities, counties, nation states and international agencies and funding institutions.

Question Fourteen: What are the major obstacles to achieving the goals of the 4 for 1000 Initiative?

Answer: The main obstacles to achieving the goals of  the 4/1000 Initiative are:

• lack of public knowledge, not only of the 4/1000 Initiative, but of the drawdown/regeneration agriculture, consumption, and land use perspectives in general

• massive taxpayer subsidies in most of the countries of the world of corporate-controlled degenerative food, farming and land use practices

• lack of unity and cooperation between food, farming, climate, environmental, peace, democracy, natural health, and justice movements, both within national borders and across borders internationally

• lack of public policy initiatives and financing for regenerative initiatives such as 4/1000.

All these degeneration drivers are related to corporate control of the national and international economy and corporate corruption of the political process.

Question Fifteen: How can I persuade my organization, city, county, state or nation to sign on to the Four for 1000 Initiative?

Answer: We need to carefully build strategic core groups and coalitions at our organizational, local, county, state and national levels, with participation from food, farming, climate, environmental, peace, democracy, natural health, and justice movements. Additionally, we need to use public education and grassroots lobbying to get our local, county, state and national governments to sign on to the 4/1000 Initiative and to generate and support significate change in marketplace dynamics and public policy.

Question Sixteen: Where can I find out more about regenerative food, farming and land use, so that I can become an effective citizen lobbyist and activist?

Answer: Visit the Regeneration International website.

And check out the resources at Bio4climate.org.

Question Seventeen: Where can I find out more about the Four for 1000 Initiative?

Answer: Visit the 4/1000 website.

Read this policy brief.

DOWNLOAD THE PDF HERE

First Steps Toward Building a Regeneration Movement in Your Local Community

The paradigm shift from degenerative food, farming and land-use practices toward regenerative practices—those that regenerate soil, biodiversity, health, local economies and climate stability—is arguably the most critical transformation occurring throughout the world today.

Regeneration practices, scaled up globally on billions of acres of farmland, pasture and forest, have the potential to not only mitigate, but also to reverse global warming. At the same time, these practices provide solutions to other burning issues such as poverty, deteriorating public health, environmental degradation and global conflict.

The promise of regeneration lies in its ability to increase plant photosynthesis on a large scale. Plant photosynthesis, which draws down CO2 from the atmosphere and releases oxygen, transfers carbon into the plant roots and soil. Fundamental changes in farming, grazing and land use practices across billions of acres of land, as well as the shift to 100- percent renewable energy, has the potential to draw down enough CO2 from the atmosphere into our soils, plants and forests to reverse global warming and re-stabilize the climate.

As this great drawdown and re-carbonization of the soil and biota occurs, civilization will reap a wide range of other benefits. These include increased soil fertility, increased soil moisture (rainfall retention), the return of regular rainfall and weather patterns, increased food production, nutrient-rich food, enhanced biodiversity, rural and urban economic development and millions of new “green” jobs.

The biggest obstacle we face in scaling regenerative agriculture is educating the public on a global scale. Only a small percentage of citizens, farmers, scientists and policymakers understand the benefits of regenerative food and farming. Some haven’t even heard the term. Therefore, our initial task is to educate folks on the message of regeneration. From there, we can organize core groups, coalitions, pilot projects and policy reforms in every town, city, state and nation.

The following action plan is designed to jumpstart an educational campaign on regenerative food, farming and land-use.

Step 1. Learn the basic principles of regenerative food, farming and land-use.

 Learn how to explain regenerative food, farming and land use as a solution to climate change, global food insecurity, biodiversity loss, water scarcity, public health and more. Be sure to avoid the “doom and gloom” climate change talk, and instead focus on the solution: regeneration.

Once you understand the principles of regenerative food, farming and land use, get excited! Your inspiration will inspire others to join the cause. Over time, you’ll improve your outreach and your ability to recruit others. A good place to start is to engage in conversations with people you already know, and who are concerned about the crises we currently face.

Avoid those closed off to the concept of regeneration. Focus instead on people who are open minded and interested in solutions. You’ll know you’re ready to spread the message of regeneration on a larger scale once you’ve inspired those closest to you, i.e. friends, family members, co-workers.

For more information on regeneration, visit http://regenerationinternational.org.

For the latest research on regenerative agriculture, visit http://regenerationinternational.org/annotated-bibliography/

For trending news on regenerative agriculture, visit http://regenerationinternational.org/news/

Step 2. Develop a core group of 4-5 regenerators. Then join or create your local “Regenerate” Facebook group

 Candidates for these groups include but aren’t limited to local food, climate, farm and political activists; environmentalists; local church members; students; teachers; gardeners; and artists.

Plan a potluck or study group to build your core group’s understanding of our most pressing issues and brainstorm ways to grow your mission. Ask your members to join a local “Regenerate” Facebook group. Or create one if there isn’t an existing group in your area. Click here to find your local “Regenerate” group: http://orgcns.org/2wF6Yn2

You may also register as an affiliate of Regeneration International here: http://regenerationinternational.org/join-us

Step 3. Get familiar with the Global 4/1000 Initiative on Soils and Food Security.

 The 4/1000 initiative is the only global local-to-national climate strategy to sequester excess carbon from the atmosphere as a means of reversing climate change.

Think of the 4/1000 initiative as sort of a Global Declaration of Interdependence, an acknowledgement and a pledge, from people all over the world, to commit to a plan to regenerate our planet.

Activists in dozens of countries worldwide are now using the 4/1000 initiative as an outreach tool for recruiting individuals and organizations to join the regeneration movement. Our hope is that these coalitions will lobby representatives at the city, county, state, national and international levels to pass resolutions supportive of the 4/1000 initiative.

Regeneration International’s goal is to get 50,000 community-based organizations and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) to sign on to the 4/1000 Initiative by 2020, ultimately inspiring a global grassroots movement.

Step 4. Develop a plan of action for reaching the masses.

 For the regeneration movement to take root, individuals and groups will need to understand the importance of connecting the dots between what they or their organizations are already working on, and the global campaign to regenerate the Earth’s natural systems, including climate, and soil and water cycles—and ultimately the health of the planet and all who inhabit it.

Target groups include: food, environmental, farm, climate, peace, immigration and faith-based groups, as well as students and others with an open mind and interest in regeneration.

How will you reach out to these groups? How will you identify people within the groups who are receptive to regeneration as an over-arching solution to multiple crises? Suggestions include attending their meetings, listening to their concerns, then finding an opening to introduce the concept of regeneration. Some groups like to have speakers/presentations at their meetings—can you get on the schedule? Or maybe invite a few people from multiple groups to a separate gathering, to discuss their work, and how it fits in with the regeneration movement?

Step 5. Contact Regeneration International to learn how to arrange regional and national meetings.

 Once your core group has educated other groups and individuals in your area, built a critical mass of organizations signed on to the 4/1000 initiative, and begun lobbying local representatives to pass 4/1000 resolutions, contact Regeneration International info@regenerationinternational.org to learn how to arrange regional and national meetings to spread the message of regeneration even more widely.

Regeneration International can also provide resources for promoting and scaling regenerative plot projects http://www.regenerationhub.co/en/ and best practices for your region.

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

4 per 1000 Initiative Wins Prestigious Award

Published: September 13, 2017

The 13th Conference of the Parties (COP) on the fight against desertification is taking place in China from Sept. 6 to 16, 2017. In preparation for this event, the World Future Council identified, on a planetary scale, the most innovative policies and those best placed to stop soil degradation and desertification. As part of this, the jury selected the innovative French-initiated 4 per 1000 Initiative!

Launched on the international scene as part of the COP 21 Paris climate conference in December 2015, the 4 per 1000 Initiative invited all signatory partners of the common declaration to implement concrete actions for storing carbon in soils and promotes the type of practices to achieve it (agro-ecology, agroforestry, or conservation agriculture, for example).

By capturing CO2 in the air, via photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon. By decomposing, the plants will produce organic matter that will store the carbon in the soils, which constitutes the largest stock of carbon on the planet. This carbon sequestration in the earth allows to improve soil health, reinforce ecosystems and to increase agricultural production.

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Are Industrial Agriculture and Genetic Modification the Answer to Feeding Humanity?

Author: Dr. David Suzuki, Ian Hanington | Published: August 6, 2017

Industrial agriculture has made it possible to produce large amounts of food fairly efficiently, but it also comes with numerous problems.

The following excerpt is from Just Cool It! A Post-Paris Agreement Game Plan, by David Suzuki and Ian Hanington (Greystone Books, 2017)

Over the past half century, the world has moved increasingly to industrial agriculture—attempting to maximize efficiency through running massive, often inhumane livestock operations; turning huge swaths of land over to monocrops requiring liberal use of fertilizers, pesticides, and genetic modification; and relying on machinery that consumes fossil fuel and underpaid migrant workers. Industrial agriculture has made it possible to produce large amounts of food fairly efficiently, but it also comes with numerous problems: increased greenhouse gas emissions; loss of forests and wetlands that prevent climate change by storing carbon; pollution from runoff and pesticides; antibiotic and pesticide resistance; reduced biodiversity; and soil degradation, erosion, and loss. Depletion of fertile soils is especially troubling, with losses estimated to be occurring up to one hundred times faster than they can regenerate with current industrial agriculture practices. Biodiversity loss refers to both a reduction in the number of crop varieties—more than 75 percent of plant genetic diversity has vanished over the past 100 years, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization—and to reduced biodiversity among species that require diverse habitats for survival.

The “solution” many experts offer for feeding a growing human population is to double down on industrial agriculture and genetic modification. Some argue leaning more heavily on genetically modified crops, and perhaps even animals, is the only way to go. A new process called clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, or CRISPR, allows researchers to turn a specific gene on or off. It’s being touted as a way to produce “plants that can withstand what an increasingly overheated nature has in store” and create “a more nutritious yield, from less plant,” according to a 2015 Newsweek article.

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4 per 1000 Initiative Up for Prestigious Award

Published: August 11, 2017

This year, the World Food Council joined with the United Nations Convention in its fight against desertification in order to give out its prestigious Future Policy Award 2017. The 4 per 1000 Initiative, aimed at increasing the storage of carbon in agricultural soils, is one of the seven policies being considered for the award this year, which will be given out in September during the COP 13. The 4 per 1000 Initiative, initially launched by France, is now an international initiative with a global governance structure.

Organized each year by the World Future Council foundation, the Future Policy Award is designed to encourage innovative public policies that will have positive effects for future generations. In each edition, the foundation chooses a particular theme for which new policies are distinguished in order to create a more just and sustainable future.

Taking advantage of the 13th Conference of the Parties (COP) on the fight against desertification, which will take place in China from Sept. 6 to 16 of this year, the World Future Council is hoping this year to distinguish the most remarkable initiatives against soil degradation and desertification. In this spirit, a jury of experts coming from governments, universities, international organizations and civil society selected seven exemplary public policies for consideration, one of which is the innovative 4 per 1000 Initiative.

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Soil Carbon 4 Per Mille

 Published: April 17, 2017 

Abstract

The ‘4 per mille Soils for Food Security and Climate’ was launched at the COP21 with an aspiration to increase global soil organic matter stocks by 4 per 1000 (or 0.4 %) per year as a compensation for the global emissions of greenhouse gases by anthropogenic sources. This paper surveyed the soil organic carbon (SOC) stock estimates and sequestration potentials from 20 regions in the world (New Zealand, Chile, South Africa, Australia, Tanzania, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, India, China Taiwan, South Korea, China Mainland, United States of America, France, Canada, Belgium, England & Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and Russia). We asked whether the 4 per mille initiative is feasible for the region. The outcomes highlight region specific efforts and scopes for soil carbon sequestration. Reported soil C sequestration rates globally show that under best management practices, 4 per mille or even higher sequestration rates can be accomplished. High C sequestration rates (up to 10 per mille) can be achieved for soils with low initial SOC stock (topsoil less than 30 t C ha− 1), and at the first twenty years after implementation of best management practices. In addition, areas which have reached equilibrium will not be able to further increase their sequestration. We found that most studies on SOC sequestration only consider topsoil (up to 0.3 m depth), as it is considered to be most affected by management techniques. The 4 per mille number was based on a blanket calculation of the whole global soil profile C stock, however the potential to increase SOC is mostly on managed agricultural lands. If we consider 4 per mille in the top 1m of global agricultural soils, SOC sequestration is between 2-3 Gt C year− 1, which effectively offset 20–35% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. As a strategy for climate change mitigation, soil carbon sequestration buys time over the next ten to twenty years while other effective sequestration and low carbon technologies become viable. The challenge for cropping farmers is to find disruptive technologies that will further improve soil condition and deliver increased soil carbon. Progress in 4 per mille requires collaboration and communication between scientists, farmers, policy makers, and marketeers.

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