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Net Zero Emissions Would Stabilize Climate Quickly Says UK Scientist

Rising seas, ocean acidification, melting ice caps, raging forest fires, melting tundra — everywhere you look, the news about climate change and the effects of a warming planet is bad. The world’s nations are continuing to spew billions of tons of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere despite all their happy talk about meeting the “spirit” of the accords they signed in Paris in 2015. Is there no respite from the dire news, no relief from the constant drumbeat of bad news and apocalyptic projections?

The conventional wisdom among climate scientists has long been that if we stopped all carbon emissions today, the climate would continue to warm for decades or even centuries. Think of climate change as a really big oil tanker. Even after the engines are shut down, its forward progress continues for miles and miles. That has led many people to throw up their hands in despair and choosing to continue doing what they have always done because if we are doomed, at least let’s have some fun while we still can. It’s like the band playing Nearer My God To Thee on the fantail of the Titanic as it slipped beneath the waves but if the message is that there is no hope, why not?

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Global Alliance for Organic Districts: Scaling Up Organic Agriculture

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of resilient local food systems that promote healthy people, environmental stewardship and a strong local economy. Lobbying governments around the world to adopt and support organic regenerative farming practices is paramount to establishing and maintaining local food systems and access to healthy food. 

During these trying times, Regeneration International (RI) has remained steadfast in its efforts to spread the word about organic regenerative agriculture to local governments, municipalities, cities and regions worldwide.

Our latest endeavor includes participating in the virtual launch of the first Global Alliance for Organic Districts (GAOD), an alliance announced on World Food Day 2020 between Asian Local Governments for Organic Agriculture (ALGOA) and the International Network of Eco Regions (I.N.N.E.R.). 

The goal is for the initiative to create synergy between groups working to promote organic regenerative agriculture across the globe. It’s supported by several founding member organizations including RI, IFOAM Organics International, IFOAM Organics Asia and the League of Organic Agriculture Municipalities and Cities of the Philippines (LOAMCP).

RI’s role in the alliance is to promote and highlight soil health as the most effective tool to curb climate change while providing local communities with nutrient-dense food. 

GAOD and its partners also joined and have voiced their support for the 4Per1000 Initiative: Soils for Food Security and Climate, a project launched in 2015 at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, France. 

The initiative provides an international framework on how to demonstrate the role of agriculture and healthy soil in addressing food security and climate change. 

The project recently launched a strategic plan to use carbon-rich soil to stop climate change and end world hunger by 2050, and by 2030 the project aims to: 

“. . . provide a supportive framework and action plan to conceptualize, implement, promote and follow up actions, on soil health and soil carbon, through an enhanced collaboration between stakeholders of the agriculture, forestry and other land use sectors, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

During the virtual online summit, GAOD’s co-president Salvatore Basile expressed his gratitude  and acknowledged the importance of the 4Per1000 Initiative to provide a framework on agricultural climate mitigation for local policymakers worldwide. He said: 

“From this day, we will promote the potential of organic regenerative agriculture to mitigate climate and build resilient local economies to mitigate the growing environmental threats global communities are facing.”

In a video message aired at the online event, Paul Luu, an agronomist specialized in tropical agronomy and executive secretary of the 4Per1000 Initiative, thanked GAOD, ALGOA and I.N.N.E.R. for becoming members of the project.

“This is an important and strong signal to local authorities to encourage and promote carbon sequestration in soils through appropriate agriculture and forestry practices. Agroecology will remain a mere concept if no farmer or forester implement appropriate practices in their fields or forests and if local authorities do not work to create an enabling environment for such practices.” 

Through the work happening on-the-ground at Via Organica, the Mexico-based sister organization of the Organic Consumers Association, RI will provide GAOD’s 4Per1000 task force groups with insights for implementing localized agriculture designed to mitigate climate change. 

The project at Via Organica, based in San Miguel de Allende, provides training to local communities on how to reforest landscapes with the planting of mesquite (which has nitrogen-fixing capacities) and agave, which has tremendous power to grow in extreme dryland conditions while sequestering huge amounts of carbon with its increased biomass. 

The agave then gets converted into a low-cost animal feed for local sheepherders who practice holistic grazing methods. 

A recently published [LINK] video featuring RI’s Latin America Director Ercilia Sahores and Francisco Peyret, the environment director for the city San Miguel de Allende, showcases the innovative agave-mesquite model. 

“We want to implement the goals of the ‘4Per1000’ Initiative, and this means taking action. This year, we are planting 2,000 hectares [of agave and mesquite] and we have 20,000 hectares that we want to convert into productive and regenerate areas,” said Pevret.

The agave planting project and the work being done at Via Organica has inspired officials in the  Guanajuato government to launch their own pilot project. 

In the featured video, Sahores said: 

“Change happens at the local level, and that is from where we need to act and gather our forces. GAOD and the RI network can have a greater influence on public policies, bringing to evidence that the health of food and climate are one.”

 RI’s participation in the ALGOA/GAOD summit contributed to a working group that includes participants from every continent on the globe to discuss the main challenges for scaling up regenerative agriculture.

The working group identifies what the challenges are, how they can be overcome and what GAOD can do to assist in that mission. 

We found that many of these needs are universal, including access to land, fair compensation for farmers to maintain and regenerate ecosystems, consumer awareness, and training on regenerative agriculture practices.

Stay tuned for more updates on the global regeneration front. 

Oliver Gardiner represents Regeneration International in Europe and Asia. 

To keep up with news and events, sign up here for the Regeneration International newsletter.

The Long-Term Disaster Far Worse than the COVID-19 Pandemic

There is a long-term disaster far worse than the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic will end in a few years; however, the world will lose many millions more to sickness, hunger, poverty and catastrophic weather events because of the unprecedented climate emergency.

The world reached a record of 417.2 parts per million of carbon dioxide (ppm CO2)  in the atmosphere in May 2020 – the most in over 3 million years.

A study published in May 2019 shows that if we don’t succeed in radically reducing emissions, civilization could collapse by 2050. As reported by the New York Post, the authors of the report say: 

“This scenario provides a glimpse into a world of ‘outright chaos’ on a path to the end of human civilization and modern society as we have known it, in which the challenges to global security are simply overwhelming and political panic becomes the norm.

The good news is that we can turn this around by scaling up regenerative agriculture.

Why regenerative agriculture?

Regenerative agriculture is based on a range of food and farming systems that use the photosynthesis of plants to capture carbon dioxide and store it in the soil. The soil holds almost three times the amount of carbon than the atmosphere and biomass (forests and plants) combined. 

Why is it so important to dramatically reduce the current rate of CO2 emissions?

If emissions are not reduced soon, we will be going into catastrophic climate change. This is because it will take centuries to get the heat out of our oceans. Ocean heat is a significant driver of our weather. The oceans and the atmosphere are already more than 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) warmer than the industrial revolution.

The energy needed to heat the atmosphere and the ocean 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 extreme weather events wreaking havoc on our communities and environment.

This extra energy is already violently fueling and disrupting our weather systems. It is causing weather events to be far more intense. Winter storms are becoming colder and can be pushed further south and north than normal due to this energy, bringing damaging snowstorms and intense floods. 

Similarly, summer storms, especially hurricanes, tornadoes, tropical lows etc. are far more frequent and intense with deluging destructive rainfall and floods. Droughts and heat waves are more common and are resulting in more crop failures. They are also fueling damaging forest and grass fires that are burning out whole communities and changing regional ecologies due to not allowing time for recovery before the next fires.

The frequency and intensity of these types of events will only get exponentially worse when the world warms to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) which is the upper limit of the Paris climate agreement. We are on track to shoot far past this goal.

Managing climate change is a major issue that we have to deal with now

Atmospheric CO2 levels have been increasing at 2 parts per million (ppm) per year. The level of CO2  reached a new record of 400 ppm in May 2016. However, despite all the commitments countries made in Paris in December 2015, the levels of CO2 increased by 3.3 ppm in 2016 creating a record. It increased by 3.3 ppm from 2018 to set a new record of 415.3 ppm in May 2019. 

Despite the global economic shut down as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic CO2 levels still set a new record of 417.2 ppm in May 2020. This is a massive increase in emissions per year since the Paris Agreement and shows the reality is that most countries are not even close to meeting their Paris reduction commitments and many must be cheating on or ignoring their obligations.

According to peer reviewed research published by Rohling et al. in the scientific journal, Nature Geoscience, the last time the world had 380 ppm, was 3.0–3.5 Million years ago. Temperatures were between 5 to 16 C warmer (9 – 28.8 F) and sea levels were 20 to 30 meters higher (65 to 100 ft) There was a mass extinction event around that period.

Even if the world transitioned to 100 percent renewable energy tomorrow, this will not stop the temperature and sea level rises. The world will continue to heat up because it will take more than 100 years for the CO2 levels to drop naturally.

Global sea level rise will cause the atoll island countries, large parts of Bangladesh, Netherlands, coastal USA, New York, New Orleans, Miami, London, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Manila, Bangkok, Jakarta, Shanghai, Singapore, Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, Dar es Salam and other low-lying cities and regions to go underwater. 

According to the latest report by Spratt and Dunlop, sea level rise and droughts and floods will cause a huge crisis for over a billion people by 2050, throwing our civilization into chaos. A peer-reviewed paper by Kulp et al. Nature Communications shows that sea level rises will cause a huge refugee crisis for 340 million people by 2050.

The world cannot cope with a few million refugees from Africa, Central America and the Middle East. How do we cope with hundreds of millions of climate change refugees? There will be widespread conflict over food, water and land.

The United Nations Paris Agreement proposes net CO2 neutrality by 2050. The evidence shows this will be too late to stop the enormous damage of catastrophic climate change. At the current rate of emissions there would be close to 500 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere.

The fact is we are in a serious climate emergency now. We must speed up the transition to renewable energy, stop the clearing of all forests and we have to make a great effort to drawdown CO2  in the atmosphere to the pre industrial level of 280 ppm.

Reversing climate change

Four hundred and seventeen ppm is way past the Paris objective of limiting the temperature increase to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius).

In order to stabilize atmospheric CO2 levels, regenerative agricultural systems would have to draw down the current emissions of 3.3 ppm of CO2 per year. Using the accepted formula that 1 ppm CO2 = 7.76 Gt CO2 means that 25.61 gigatons (Gt) of CO2 per year needs to be drawn down from the atmosphere. We have to draw down more than this to reduce the levels of CO2 in order to regenerate our climate and prevent a catastrophic climate emergency.

The potential of three best-practice regenerative agriculture systems

There are numerous regenerative farming systems that can sequester CO2  from the atmosphere through photosynthesis, and turn it into soil organic matter through the actions of the roots and soil biology or the soil microbiome. 

We don’t have time to waste on farming systems that only sequester small amounts of CO2. We need to concentrate on scaling up systems that can achieve high levels of sequestration. The simple back of the envelope calculations used for the three examples below are a good exercise to show the considerable potential of these best-practice regenerative systems to reverse the climate emergency.

Biologically Enhanced Agricultural Management (BEAM)

BEAM (Biologically Enhanced Agricultural Management), developed by Dr. David Johnson of New Mexico State University, produces compost with a high diversity of soil microorganisms. 

Multiple crops grown with BEAM have achieved very high levels of sequestration and yields. 

Research published by Dr. Johnson and colleagues show: 

“. . . 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 are currently being replicated in other trials.

These figures mean that BEAM can sequester 37,700 kilos of CO2 per hectare per year which is approximately 37,000 pounds of CO2 per acre.

BEAM can be used in all soil-based food production systems including annual crops, permanent crops and grazing systems, including arid and semi arid regions. If BEAM was extrapolated globally across agricultural lands it would sequester 185 Gt of CO2 per year.

The Johnson-Su composting method creates compost teeming with microorganisms that improve soil health and plant growth and increase the soil’s potential to sequester carbon.

 

Potential of “No Kill No Till”

Singing Frogs Farm is a highly productive “No Kill No Till” richly biodiverse organic, agro-ecological horticulture farm on three acres. The key to their no-till system is to cover the planting beds with mulch and compost instead of plowing them or using herbicides, and planting directly into the compost, along with a high biodiversity of cash and cover crops that are continuously rotated to break weed, disease and pest cycles.

According to Chico State University, they have increased the soil organic matter (SOM) levels by 400 percent in six years. The Kaisers have increased their SOM from 2.4 percent to an optimal 7-8 percent with an average increase of about 3/4 of a percentage point per year. This farming system is applicable to more than 80 percent of farmers around the world as the majority of farmers have less than two hectares or five acres. 

If the Singing Frog farm was extrapolated globally across arable and permanent crop lands it would sequester 179 Gt of CO2 per year.

The potential of regenerative grazing

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

Around 68 percent of the world’s agricultural lands are used for grazing. The published evidence shows that correctly managed pastures can build up soil carbon faster than many other agricultural systems and this is stored deeper in the soil.

Research by published Machmuller et al. 2015 found: 

“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% and 34%, respectively.”

That means they have sequestered 29,360 kilos of CO2 per hectare per year. This is approximately 29,000 pounds of CO2  per acre. If these regenerative grazing practices were implemented on the world’s grazing lands they would sequester 98.6 Gt of CO2 per year.

Regenerative grazing systems regenerate degraded lands, improve productivity, water holding capacity and soil carbon levels.

Ending the climate emergency

Transitioning a small proportion of global agricultural production to these evidence based, best-practice, regenerative systems will sequester enough CO2 to reverse climate change and restore the global climate.

Ten percent of agricultural lands under BEAM could sequester 18.5 Gt of CO2 per year.

Ten percent of smallholder farms across arable and permanent crop lands using Singing Frog Farm’s “No Kill No Till” systems could sequester 18 Gt of CO2 per year.

And a further 10 percent of grasslands under regenerative grazing could sequester 10 Gt of CO2 per year.

This would result in 46.5 Gt of CO2 per year being sequestered into the soil which is more than the amount of sequestration needed to draw down the 25.61 Gt of CO2 that is currently being emitted.

These back-of-the-envelope calculations are designed to show the considerable potential of scaling up proven high-performing regenerative systems. The examples are “shovel ready” solutions, as they are based on existing practices. 

There is no need to invest in expensive, potentially dangerous and unproven technologies such as carbon capture and storage or geo-engineering.

We are in a climate emergency and we need every tool in the toolbox to fix this problem. We don’t have the luxury of wasting precious time on intellectual arguments about whether this is possible or to convince skeptics and land managers unwilling to change.

It is time to get on with drawing down the excess CO2 by scaling up existing regenerative agriculture practices. This is very doable and achievable. It would require minimal financial costs to fund existing institutions, training organizations and relevant NGOs to run courses and workshops. 

Most importantly, this needs to be scaled up through proven farmer-to-farmer training systems. The evidence shows that these types of peer-to-peer systems are the most effective way to increase adoption of best practices.

The widespread adoption of best-practice regenerative agriculture systems should be the highest priority for farmers, ranchers, governments, international organizations, elected representatives, industry, training organizations, educational institutions and climate change organizations. 

We owe this to future generations and to all the rich biodiversity on our precious living planet.

 References/sources:

Johnson D, Ellington J and Eaton W, (2015)  Development of soil microbial communities for promoting sustainability in agriculture and a global carbon fix, PeerJ PrePrints | CC-BY 4.0 Open Access | rec: 13 Jan 2015, publ: 13 Jan 2015

Jones C, (2009) Adapting farming to climate variability, Amazing Carbon.

Lal R (2008). Sequestration of atmospheric CO2 in global carbon pools. Energy and Environmental Science, 1: 86–100.

Kulp SA & Strauss BH (2019), New elevation data triple estimates of global vulnerability to sea-level rise and coastal flooding, Nature Communications, (2019)10:4844.

McCosker, T. (2000). “Cell Grazing – The First 10 Years in Australia,” Tropical Grasslands. 34:  207-218.

Machmuller MB, Kramer MG, Cyle TK, Hill N, Hancock D & Thompson A (2014). Emerging land use practices rapidly increase soil organic matter, Nature Communications 6, Article number: 6995 doi:10.1038/ncomms7995, Received 21 June 2014 Accepted 20 March 2015 Published 30 April 2015

NOAS (2017). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (US)

https://www.climate.gov/news-features/climate-qa/how-much-will-earth-warm-if-carbon-dioxide-doubles-pre-industrial-levels, Accessed Jan 30 2017

Rohling EJ, K. Grant, M. Bolshaw, A. P. Roberts, M. Siddall, Ch. Hemleben and M. Kucera (2009) Antarctic temperature and global sea level closely coupled over the past five glacial cycles, Nature Geoscience, advance online publication.

Spratt D and Dunlop I, 2019, Existential climate-related security risk: A scenario approachBreakthrough – National Centre for Climate Restoration, Melbourne, Australia, May 2019 Updated 11 June 2019

Tong W, Teague W R, Park C S and Bevers S, 2015, GHG Mitigation Potential of Different Grazing Strategies in the United States Southern Great Plains, Sustainability 2015, 7, 13500-13521; doi:10.3390/su71013500, ISSN 2071-1050

Global Agricultural Land Figures

United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),  FAOSTAT data on land use, retrieved December 4, 2015

The total amount of land used to produce food is 4,911,622,700 Hectares (18,963,881 square miles).

 This is divided into: Arable/Crop land: 1,396,374,300 Hectares (5,391,431 square miles)

Permanent pastures: 3,358,567,600 Hectares (12,967,502 square miles)

Permanent crops: 153,733,800 Hectares (593,570 square miles)

 BEAM Calculations

A basic calculation shows the potential of scaling up this simple technology across the global agricultural lands. Soil Organic Carbon x 3.67 = CO2 which means that 10.27 metric tons soil carbon = 37.7 metric tons of CO2 per hectare per year (t CO2/ha/yr). This means BEAM can sequester 37.7 tons of CO2 per hectare which is approximately 38,000 pounds of CO2 per acre.

 If BEAM was extrapolated globally across agricultural lands it would sequester 185 Gt of CO2/yr.

(37.7 t CO2/ha/yr X 4,911,622,700 ha = 185,168,175,790t CO2/ha/yr) 

Singing Frogs Farm Calculations

The Kaisers have managed to increase their soil organic matter from 2.4% to an optimal 7-8% in just six years, an average increase of about 3/4 of a percentage point per year (Elizabeth Kaiser Pers. Com. 2018 and Chico State University https://www.csuchico.edu/regenerativeagriculture/demos/singing-frogs.shtml)

“An increase of 1% in the level of soil carbon in the 0-30cm soil profile equates to

sequestration of 154 tCO2/ha if an average bulk density of 1.4 g/cm3” (Jones C. 2009)

3/4 % OM = 115.5 metric tons of CO2 per hectare (115,500 pounds an acre per year)

This system can be used on arable and permanent crop lands. Arable/Crop land: 1,396,374,300 Hectares plus Permanent crops: 153,733,800 Hectares = 1,550,108,100 Hectares

Extrapolated globally across arable and permanent crop lands it would sequester 179 Gt of CO2/yr (1,550,108,100 Hectares x 115.5 metric tons of CO2 per hectare = 179,037,485,550 metric tons)

Regenerative Grazing Calculations

To explain the significance of Machmuller’s 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, which means that these grazing systems have sequestered 29,360 kgs (29.36 metric tons) of CO2/ha/yr. This is approximately 30,000 pounds of CO2 per acre.

If these regenerative grazing practices were implemented on the world’s grazing lands they would sequester 98.6 Gt CO2/yr.

(29.36t CO2/ha/yr X 3,358,567,600 ha = 98,607,544,736t CO2/ha/yr)

Agro-Eco Philippines Helps Transition Filipino Farmers to Agroecological and Organic Regenerative Practices

DAVAO, PHILIPPINES – Nearly one year ago today, Regeneration International (RI) signed the “Regeneration Philippines” pact, a Memorandum of Understanding between the Filipino League of Organic Municipalities Cities and Provinces (LOAMCP) and RI. 

Fast forward to today and we are blessed to have reconnected virtually with our friends in the Philippines, this time, through the addition of a new RI partner, Agro-Eco Philippines (AEP), an organization dedicated to “building resilient farming communities and sustainable economies.”

AEP began its work with small farmers in Mindanao or the Southern Philippines in 1991. Today, the non-profit government organization (NGO) works with 4,000 individual farmers in 300 farmers’ organizations in Mindanao, eastern Visayas and eastern Luzon. 

Its mission is to advocate for Filipino’s right to healthy food, alleviate hunger in poverty-stricken farming communities and teach farmers organic regenerative and agroecological practices that produce healthy food, increase the socio-economic livelihood of farmers, and build resilience against the effects of climate change. 

AEP also invests in the development of local markets through community-led research to help boost profits for smallholder farmers.

AEP and its work transitioning conventional Filipino farmers to agroecological and organic regenerative agriculture practices is showcased in our “Trails of Regeneration” video series, which highlights stories of regeneration throughout the globe. 

In our latest episode, “Agro-Eco Philippines Helps Farmers Go Organic,” AEP’s Executive Director Geonathan Barro discusses how the NGO has trained an impressive number of farmers on organic practices. Barro told us in a Zoom interview:

“So far, we have trained roughly 10,000 conventional farmers to go organic. The key is to build on the hard labor of the previous years without relying on middle men or corporate entities to distribute and process our products.”

AEP is firm in its belief that the role humans play on farms is a key component of agroecology. According to its website

“Farmers . . . are critical actors in agroecological practice and agroecological transformation. They are stewards of biodiversity and the real keepers of relevant knowledge for this agenda. It is therefore important that agroecological knowledge and technologies are developed on the basis of farmers’ own knowledge and experimentation. Further, this means that agroecology has to be context-specific and culturally appropriate. Agroecology makes best use of the human, social, and environmental capital available locally.”

Green Revolution forces farmers into degenerative farming model

The future hasn’t always been so bright for some farmers in the Philippines.

Since the launch of the Green Revolution in the 1960s, Filippino farmers have largely depended on degenerative agricultural models that have forced millions of farmers into debt due to the high cost of chemical fertilizers and pesticides that over time eroded the soil and polluted waterways. 

More than half a century ago, the Filipiino government, with influence from the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, created the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). In 1962, the IRRI crossed Dee-Geo-woo-gen and Peta rice strains to create IR8 or “miracle rice.” By 1981, “miracle rice” accounted for more than 80 percent of total rice crops in the Philippines.

The “miracle rice” produced high yieldsten times the amount of traditional rice varietiesallowing the Philippines to go from being an importer of rice to a global exporter.

Unfortunately, the benefits of the Green Revolution were short-lived. They were also outweighed by the rising costs of high-debt, falling income and the environmental consequences of chemical-intensive agriculture. 

This chain of events is found in many developing countries that fell victim to big agricultural corporations selling high-yielding seeds that provide productive harvests the first year, but then require major increases in chemical inputs the following year. 

The allure of high (but unsustainable) crop yields has led to a system of enslaved farmers whose farmlands have been rendered unproductive without the application of synthetic and chemical inputs.

Over time, pesticides destroy key microbes in the soil and alter its ability to retain nutrients and water, which makes farmers more vulnerable to drought, floods, pests and crop-related diseases. This escalates production costs that put smallholder farmers at risk of bankruptcy. 

Filippino farmers campaigning against Monsanto’s Golden Rice, promoting regenerative systems of rice intensification and defending local seed sovereignty.

AEP teaches farmers organic regenerative practices that benefit the environment and the community

AEP is working to break the patterns of conventional food and farming systems by providing smallholder farmers with free access to local indigenous seeds and information on practices such as composting, cover cropping, seed saving, crop rotation and the integration of livestock. 

It also teaches farmers about agroforestry, the incorporation of trees into agriculture, and encourages the exchange of knowledge between fellow farmers.

Agroecological and organic regenerative farming practices have never been more important. Like many nations around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to food shortages in the Philippines. 

The silver lining, however, is that empty store shelves have encouraged locals to buy directly from their farmer. Not only does this help small farmers, but it also provides families with safe, nutritious food that builds a strong immune system, Barro told RI.

Selling direct to consumers, and removing grocery stores from the equation, has allowed Filippino farmers to sell their products for less money. 

Luz Astronomo, an AEP member and small farmer from Davao City, Philippines, told RI in a Zoom interview that he’s able to sell his produce for 60 percent less than other produce because everything he needs to grow it comes from his farm, including the seeds and organic inputs.

“So, we don’t have to sell our products at a high price,” he said. 

In many localities, conventional farmers are now buying food from organic farmers because the monoculture systems they depend on are failing to compete with the diversified agroecological systems practiced by AEP’s members. Barro told RI:

“These are very difficult times brought about by COVID-19, but these very difficult times have painted us a picture of what kind of agriculture the world needs to overcome such crises.”

Organic regenerative agriculture helps fight climate change

In addition to producing healthier food, agroecological and organic regenerative farming practices help mitigate climate change by building healthy soil that draws down excess atmospheric carbon and stores it in the ground.

Farmers are instrumental in addressing climate change because they experience the impacts of a changing climate, Barro said.

AEP recognizes this, too, which is why it now offers a course on soil quality management to teach farmers how to better manage soil when dealing with pests, disease and climate extremes. 

Mr. René Garcia, also a small farmer and member of AEP, says regenerative agriculture practices help restore key microbes in the soil. Garcia told us in a Zoom interview:

 “We are practicing regenerative agriculture to return microorganisms to the soil that feed the plants. By using the systems of rice intensification, which can reduce flooding in rice paddies and dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and can also help conserve water and boost yields.”

AEP believes that all farmers can grow resilient to the effects of climate change by caring for their soil, ditching the toxic chemicals, producing and distributing food locally, and practicing and advocating for organic regenerative farming systems.

“Success stories of farmers that are working to mitigate and adapt to climate change will inspire people all over the world,” said Barro, adding that it gives people hope to know others are coming together to make this world a better place. 

Stay tuned for more stories of regeneration both in the Philippines and around the world. 

Oliver Gardiner represents Regeneration International in Europe and Asia. To keep up with news and events, sign up here for the Regeneration International newsletter.

Perspectives from Chad, Africa: COVID-19, Climate Change and Indigenous Knowledge

REPUBLIC OF CHAD, Africa – While COVID-19 has forced most of the world into lockdown, we are fortunate to report that our “Trails of Regeneration” video series is alive and well. Over the last few months we’ve focused on reporting the effects of the pandemic on farmers and ranchers and indigenous peoples from around the world. 

In our latest “Trails of Regeneration” episode, “Perspectives from Chad, Africa: Covid-19, Climate Change and Indigenous Knowledge,” we proudly feature Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, an award-winning environmental activist and indigenous woman from the Mbororo pastoralist community in Chad, which practices nomadic cattle herding.

Ibrahim is an expert in adaptation and mitigation of indigenous peoples and women in relation to climate change, traditional knowledge and the adaptation of pastoralists in Africa. She is founder and coordinator of the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad (AFPAT), which works to empower indigenous voices and improve quality of life by creating economic opportunities and protecting the natural resources to which pastoralist communities depend on.

Ibrahim was recently named Emerging Explorer 2017 by National Geographic. She has worked on the rights of indigenous peoples and the protection of the environment through the three Rio Conventions—on Biodiversity, Climate Change and Desertification—which originated out of the 1992 Earth Summit. 

The Mbororo pastoralist community reside near Lake Chad, located in the far west of Chad and the northeast of Nigeria. It was once Africa’s largest water reservoir in the Sahel region, spanning 26,000 kilometers. However, the lake has continued to shrink over time and is now thought to be one-fifth of its original size. 

Experts say climate change, population growth and inefficient damming and irrigation systems are to blame. The loss of water in Lake Chad is having serious adverse effects on communities, such as the Mbororo people, who are forced to migrate greater distances in search of water and green pastures. 

In a Zoom interview with Regeneration International, Ibrahim explained that in one year, the Mbororo people can travel up to a thousand kilometers and beyond, relying solely on nature and rainfall. Ibrahim told us:

“Nature is our main health, food and education system. It represents everything for us. In our culture, men and women depend equally on nature in their daily activities. The men herd the cattle towards water and pastures, while the women collect firewood, food and drinking water for the community. This provides a socially strong gender balance to our community.”

However, the degradation of natural resources is threatening these traditions, leading to human conflicts, particularly between farmers and pastoralists whose cattle sometimes roam onto nearby cropland and cause damage. These conflicts have forced Mbororo men to urban areas in search of a new line of work. Sometimes they don’t return, and the women, children and elderly are left behind to fend for themselves, Ibrahim told us.

In an effort to preserve the Mbororo’s nomadic way of life, and to help resolve conflicts between farmers and herders, Ibrahim established a project in 2012 with the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and the World Meteorological Organization. The project uses indigenous knowledge and 3D mapping technology to map Chad’s Sagel region, home to 250,000 Mbororo people. 

Through its 3D maps, the project brings together rival farmers and pastoralists to collaboratively draw lines of land ownership and reach agreements on grazing pathways and corridors. The work has helped farmers and pastoralists agree on land boundaries, as well as established a calendaring system to coordinate grazing patterns with the harvesting of crops. 

The result is a win-win solution where cattle fertilize and enrich the land through purposeful grazing. This prevents crop damage and helps to mitigate climate change. According to Ibrahim:

“When we experience climate change, we use our nomadic way of life as a solution. When we go from one place to another, resting two or three days per location, the dung from our cattle fertilizes the land and helps the ecosystem regenerate naturally.

“Our traditional knowledge is based on the observation of nature which is the common denominator of all the traditional indigenous knowledge around the world. We live in harmony with biodiversity because we observe insects that give us information on the health of an ecosystem.

“We look at bird migration patterns to predict the weather and we learn from the behavior of our animals who communicate a lot of information. We look at the wind. When the wind transports a lot of particulates from nature during the dry season, we know that we are going to have a good rainy season. This is free information we use to help balance community and ecosystem health and adapt to climate change.”

Ibrahim believes that events such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, are nature’s way of letting us know she is mad because we are mistreating her. In order to heal the planet, we must listen to our wisdom and respect nature, she says.

Oliver Gardiner is Regeneration International’s media producer and coordinator for Asia and Europe. To keep up with Regeneration International news, sign up for our newsletter.

Small-But-Mighty Delegation Carries the Regeneration International in Madrid

MADRID, Spain — Our Madrid delegation carried the Regeneration International banner at the official COP25 event, participating in official events, representing Regeneration International at the 4 per 1000 Initiative meeting and strengthening our network and partnerships.

In this video, Precious Phiri, Regeneration International steering committee member and coordinator of all things Africa-based, talks with Oliver Gardiner about her work in various regions in Africa training ranchers in holistic management techniques, and how regenerative grazing practices restore degraded grasslands. A great message, delivered on International Farmers Day!

Phiri also participated in the official UNFCC Side Event, “Transforming our Food System to Support Natural Carbon Sinks.” The event focused on how farmers, pastoralists, marine biologists, scientists and food advocates are collaborating in new ways to regenerate ecosystems to meet the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Phiri described the  drought situation and other struggles facing farmers in Southern and East Africa, and the work being done by pastoralists and cropping farmers. 

“Regenerative farmers are influencing and leading the way in regional policy decisions,” Phiri said. “That is the value they bring, along with building strong partnerships to help amplify the voices of farmers and spread the message of regenerative agriculture’s social and economic benefits, in addition to its healing impact on Earth’s ecosystems and climate stability.”

The side event was organized by Regeneration International,  International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), Biovision – Foundation for Ecological Development (BV) and Shinji Shumeikai (Shumei).

Phiri also spoke on behalf of Regeneration International at the official 4 per 1000 Initiative meeting, co-sponsored by Spain’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment. As part of her presentation, she read a statement developed at the Regeneration International Assembly, held in Santiago. The statement called on global governments to adopt a four-prong strategy to solving the climate crisis. 

According to the statement:

“The current global emergency and eco-social crisis that is now at our doorstep urgently demands that we immediately implement all four of these strategies if we hope to avert a total collapse of our ecosystem and global society as we know it.”

The strategy includes: 

  1. Public education and movement-building
  2. Implementation of existing regenerative agriculture practices that promote ecosystem restoration, carbon-capture in soils, and food security 
  3. Reorientation of public policies to support regenerative agricultural practices
  4. Incentivization of massive public and private investment for regenerative practices

Also representing Regeneration International in Madrid was our roving reporter, Oliver Gardiner. Gardiner conducted a series of interviews (you’ll find all of them here), including this one with Dr. Martin Frick, senior director of policy and program coordination for the United Nations Framework on Climate Change.

Frick didn’t mince words when it comes to the link between healthy soils, healthy food and a healthy climate. “I think soils are absolutely instrumental in fixing the climate,” he said. And with over half the world’s arable land moderately to severely degraded, the restoration potential is “enormous,” he said.

As for who will lead the soil restoration efforts, Frick said farmers can do it—but they’ll need to be paid for not only growing healthy food but for restoring healthy soils so that those soils can sequester the carbon drawn down by healthy plants.

Though the Regeneration International Madrid delegation was small, Phiri said it generated “amazing synergy” and was able to have a presence at all  the right events and to serve as a bridge between the meetings in Chile and those in Madrid.

As for the overall outcome of the COP25 global summit, Phiri said: “Even though the main government negotiation rooms didn’t come up with solid conclusions, the COPs remain a useful space for everyone to stand in solidarity and rekindle the passion to keep regenerating. But it’s clear that the people are no longer waiting for governments to act. There’s a huge uprising from civil society, farmers and the world’s youth. This is how change will happen—the people will lead, from the grassroots up, and the governments will follow.”

 

Katherine Paul is communications director for Regeneration International. Subscribe to Regeneration International’s newsletter to keep up with our work.

 

 

 

Organizaciones regenerativas continuarán con los eventos agendados en torno a la COP25 en Chile, y también enviarán delegaciones a Madrid

Regeneration International, Savory Institute, Organic Consumers Association y muchas otras organizaciones comprometidas a apoyar el movimiento regenerativo en América Latina

Contacto:

América Latina: Ercilia Sahores, ercilia@wordpress-409503-1481076.cloudwaysapps.com, +52 (55) 6257 7901

Estados Unidos: Katherine Paul, katherine@wordpress-409503-1481076.cloudwaysapps.com; 207-653-3090

SANTIAGO, Chile – 7 de noviembre de 2019 – En una demostración clara de solidaridad con el creciente movimiento regenerativo en Chile y en América Latina, Regeneration International anunció que llevará a cabo la asamblea anual de la red y participará de otras instancias claves y estratégicas sobre el clima y la agricultura en Chile y regiones, a pesar de la decisión del gobierno de Chile de no ser anfitrión de la Conferencia climática COP25.

Regeneration International y aliados claves también enviarán delegaciones a la COP25 oficial, que ahora tendrá lugar en Madrid. 

“Este es un momento histórico de profundo simbolismo para Chile,” afirmó Ercilia Sahores, Directora para América Latina de Regeneration International. “Nuestra decisión de continuar con las reuniones que hemos organizado durante meses junto con otras organizaciones de la sociedad civil, refleja nuestro compromiso de asegurar que las voces ciudadanas, no solo las institucionales, puedan unir fuerzas y tener una plataforma en la COP25. Creemos que el Movimiento Regenerativo ofrece una esperanza que se traduce en soluciones políticas, ambientales y socio-económicas prácticas ante la crisis sistémica que se está viviendo en este momento en Chile y otras partes del mundo.”

“Regeneration International está inspirado y con nuevas fuerzas por el surgimiento de resistencia de base y por la regeneración que se está contagiando en todo el planeta, declaró Ronnie Cummins, co-fundador y miembro de la junta de Regeneration International.” Los levantamientos que hemos visto en Chile, Hong Kong, Moscú, el Líbano y otras naciones y el rápido crecimiento de Extinction Rebellion en Europa y el movimiento Sunrise en Estados Unidos, son claros llamados para que el sistema cambie como condición clave para enfrentar la crisis climática y la crisis social, política y económica que están claramente relacionadas. Desde Regeneration International y en conjunto con organizaciones aliadas estamos esperando con ansias ir a Santiago en diciembre para, junto con nuestros colegas en América Latina y Chile, construir un movimiento fuerte a través de América y lograr un Nuevo Acuerdo Verde transcontinental con un fuerte foco en la reforestación, la agricultura y la alimentación regenerativa, así como la restauración de ecosistemas..” 

“La hora esperada ha llegado, luego de años de practicar y capacitarnos activamente en la regeneración eco-social en nuestras manos, mentes y corazones,” compartió Javiera Carrión, co-fundadora de El Manzano Permacultura, organización afiliada a Regeneration International. “El contexto ha cambiado de una manera rápida y violenta en Chile, y lo mismo está ocurriendo en otras partes del mundo“. Estos son tiempos interesantes y de gran incertidumbre. Es también el momento adecuado para que el Movimiento Regenerativo se reúna y vuelva a pensar su estrategia. Tenemos mucho trabajo por hacer y estamos muy agradecidos del apoyo de Regeneration International en este momento crítico.”

” En Savory nos llena de entusiasmo unir fuerzas con Regeneration International para esta COP25,  tanto en Chile como en España” señaló Daniela Howell, CEO del Savory Institute,” Los líderes de nuestros Hubs en Sudamérica y en Europa se unirán para expresar el apoyo y el compromiso hacia el movimiento regenerativo en esta región y de manera global. Queremos participar como un frente unido en sesiones claves para apoyar la promoción de la agricultura orgánica y la iniciativa global  4×1000, compartiendo también tiempo para inspirarnos, conectarnos y generar amistades.”

Regeneration International llevará a cabo su Asamblea General en Santiago el 9 y 10 de diciembre.

Regeneration International es una organización sin fines de lucro 501 (c) (3) dedicada a promover, facilitar y acelerar la transición global a la alimentación, la agricultura y la gestión de la tierra regenerativas con el propósito de restaurar la estabilidad climática, poner fin al hambre en el mundo y reconstruir los sistemas sociales, ecológicos y económicos deteriorados. Visite https://regenerationinternational.org/.

Regeneration Movement Will Hold Scheduled COP25 Events in Chile, Also Send Delegations to Madrid

Regeneration International, Savory Institute, Organic Consumers Assoc. among other regenerative organizations committed to supporting the Regeneration Movement in Latin America

Contact:

Latin America: Ercilia Sahores, ercilia@wordpress-409503-1481076.cloudwaysapps.com, +52 (55) 6257 7901

US: Katherine Paul, katherine@wordpress-409503-1481076.cloudwaysapps.com; 207-653-3090

SANTIAGO, Chile – November 11, 2019 – In a show of solidarity with the growing Regeneration Movement in Chile and throughout Latin America, Regeneration International today announced it will hold the regeneration network’s annual general assembly and related global climate events in Santiago and regions, as planned, despite the recent announcement that Chile has pulled out of hosting the COP25 Global Climate Summit.

Regeneration International and key partners will also send delegations to the official COP25, which has been relocated to Madrid. 

“This is a historical and deeply symbolic moment for Chile,” said Ercilia Sahores, Regeneration International Latin America director. “Our decision to proceed with the meetings we’ve spent months organizing on the ground with Latin American civil society organizations reflects our commitment to ensuring that citizen voices, not just institutional voices can join forces and have a platform at COP25. We believe that the Regeneration Movement offers hope, in the way of practical, environmental, socioeconomic and political solutions to the systemic crisis occurring now in Chile and other parts of the world.”

“Regeneration International is inspired and energized by the unprecedented upsurge of grassroots resistance and regeneration spreading across the globe, said Ronnie Cummins, Regeneration International co-founder and steering committee member. “The recent uprisings in Chile, Hong Kong, Moscow, Lebanon and other nations, and the rapid growth of the Sunrise and Extinction Rebellion movements in the U.S. and Europe, are calling for system change as the only way to address the Climate Emergency and the related political, social and economic crises bearing down upon us. Regeneration International and our allied NGOs look forward to traveling to Santiago in December to participate with our Chilean and Latin American partners in building up a strong network throughout the Americas for a transcontinental Green New Deal with a strong focus on regenerative food, farming, reforestation and ecosystem restoration.” 

“The time we expected has arrived, years of training and active experimentation for eco-social regeneration in our hands, hearts and minds,” said Javiera Carrión, co-founder of El Manzano Permaculture, a Regeneration International affiliate. “The context has changed rapidly and violently here in Chile, as is happening in other parts of the world“. These are interesting and uncertain times. It is also time for the Regeneration Movement to gather and re-strategize. We have much work to do, and are grateful to have the support of Regeneration International at this critical moment.”

“Savory is excited to join forces with Regeneration International,” said Daniela Howell, CEO of the Savory Institute,” in both Chile and Spain during COP25, with our Hub leaders in South America and Europe joining in an expression of our committed support to the regenerative movement in these regions and globally. We look forward to participating as a united front in key sessions to advance the support for regenerative agriculture and the global 4×1000 initiative, as well as shared time of inspiration and friendship.”

Regeneration International will hold its General Assembly in Santiago December 9-10.

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.

Step Aside Agribusiness, It’s Time for Real Solutions to the Climate Crisis

This week’s UN Climate Action Summit will be tricky for agribusiness CEOs. With forest fires raging in the Amazon, a damning new report about the food system by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and millions of young people out in streets clamouring to shut down fossil fuels and factory farming, it will be hard for the world’s largest food and agribusiness companies to get away with another round of voluntary pledges to reduce their gigantic emissions.

At the last UN summit on climate, held five years ago in New York, agribusiness dazzled everyone with two initiatives on deforestation and agriculture, both of which are now in shambles.

Their initiative on deforestation, a New York Declaration on Forests, championed by the world’s largest buyer of palm oil, Unilever, was supposed to put a major dent in tropical deforestation. Instead, rates of tree cover loss have soared, the Amazon is in flames, and those trying to defend forests from agribusiness companies are being killed in record numbers. Now we are learning that the Brazilian Cerrado, a biodiversity hot spot on par with the Amazon and one of the main frontiers for agribusiness expansion, is also burning at a record rate. Agribusiness is responsible, but so are the big global financial firms that having been buying up vast swaths of Cerrado lands and converting them to mega-farms, such as the Swedish national pension fundBlackstone and the Harvard University endowment.

The other initiative at the last summit, a Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture, was the handiwork of Yara, the world’s top nitrogen fertiliser producer and one of the planet’s worst emitters of greenhouse gases. It was the fertiliser industry’s PR response to the growing movement for a real climate solution based on fertiliser-free agroecological farming. The trick worked, for a while. Global production of nitrogen fertiliser rose steadily over the next few years. But the most recent IPCC report pointed to nitrogen fertilisers as one of the most dangerous and underestimated contributors to the climate crisis, and new research is showing that the industry has vastly underestimated its own emissions.

Right now, climate activists are mobilising in Germany for the first mass climate action against Yara and the fertiliser industry. They are targeting Yara because of its multi-million euro lobbying efforts to green-wash industrial agriculture, which they say is one of the main drivers of the climate breakdown.

The big meat and dairy companies are also in trouble. These companies, such as Tyson, Nestlé and Cargill, have emissions levels that approximate their counterparts in the fossil fuel industry. The top 20 meat and dairy companies emit more greenhouse gases than Germany, Europe’s biggest climate polluter. But none of these companies have credible action plans to reduce their emissions and only 4 of the top 35 companies are even reporting their emissions! Instead of taking meaningful action to cut back on production, several companies have been making a lot of noise about their minor investments in plant-based alternatives. People are not being fooled. On the eve of last week’s global climate strike, more than 200 representatives of Indigenous Peoples, workers, academia, environmental and human rights groups adopted a landmark declaration that singled out the “fossil fuel industry and large-scale agribusiness” for “being at the core of the destruction of our climate”.

Big food and agribusiness companies are desperate to portray themselves as part of the solution. But there is no way to reconcile what’s needed to heal our planet with their unflinching commitment to growth. We cannot address the climate crisis if these companies are allowed to keep on sourcing, processing and selling ever more agricultural commodities, be it meat, milk, palm oil or soybeans. Their massive supply chains are what drives the food system’s catastrophic emissions—which the IPCC now says stands at up to 37% of global human-made GHG emissions.

Yet, if we look beyond the public relations of Big Food and Ag we will see that there are plenty of real solutions that can feed the planet perfectly well. All kinds of alternatives are flourishing, especially in the global South, where small farmers and local food systems still supply up to 80% of the food people eat. The industrial food system only exists today because of the support it gets from governments which march in lockstep with corporate lobbyists. Public subsidies, trade deals, tax breaks and corporate-friendly regulations are all designed to prop up the big food and agribusiness companies—and facilitate the growing criminalisation of affected communities, land defenders and seed savers resisting these corporations on the ground. We urgently need to send agribusiness out of the room and demand that governments shift support to small food producers and local markets which would actually save us from planetary collapse.

 

Posted with permission from Common Dreams

Corporate Agribusiness Is Blocking Important Action on the Climate

Climate change action plans often call for less fossil fuel usage, reduced carbon dioxide emissions and a shift toward renewable energy sources. But one area that hasn’t received the broader attention it deserves is industrial farming.

The latest report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) determined that the turning over of more and more land to commercial agriculture has resulted in increasing net greenhouse gas emissions, the loss of natural ecosystems and declining biodiversity. And so, “sustainable land management can contribute to reducing the negative impacts of multiple stressors, including climate change,” the report finds.

This IPCC offering followed on the heels of the National Academies of Sciences study into negative emissions technologies and carbon sequestration, which also found that efforts to store more carbon in agricultural soils generally have “large positive side benefits,” including increased productivity, water holding capacity and yield stability.

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