Forests for People

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Abstract

With this book, we want to offer insights into good solutions for the challenges of our time. Not everything in Rwanda is working, and we want to make it clear that we do not support all political measures of the country. Our engagement in Rwanda was preceded by an intensive evaluation process, at the end of which the country’s forest policy was awarded with the Future Policy Award for 2011. However, the conference in Kigali showed us that in addition to the scientific analysis, “seeing is believing” holds true for us as well. Experiencing the reality gives us greater motivation. For this reason, it was important not just to sit in a conference room with experts from Burundi, Cameroon, Ghana, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia but also to travel the country, talk to people and experience real solutions first hand.

 

Forests for People

forests_for_people_featured

Abstract

With this book, we want to offer insights into good solutions for the challenges of our time. Not everything in Rwanda is working, and we want to make it clear that we do not support all political measures of the country.

Our engagement in Rwanda was preceded by an in – tensive evaluation process, at the end of which the country’s forest policy was awarded with the Future Policy Award for 2011. However, the conference in Kigali showed us that in addition to the scientific analysis, “seeing is believing” holds true for us as well. Experiencing the reality gives us greater motivation. For this reason, it was important not just to sit in a conference room with experts from Burundi, Cameroon, Ghana, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia but also to travel the country, talk to people and experience real solutions first hand.

 

What we need is a preventive testing of Financial Innovations

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Abstract

Not all investment banking is chaff; it is – apart from excessive trading and innovations such as the never-ending expansion of derivatives – a meaningful part of real economy finance as well. At the same time, there is chaff in retail banking, about which many retail clients can tell us. This means that we have to sort out the chaff, in order to come to a workable and effective financial system.

Organic farming solutions

Agricultural carbon sequestration has the potential to substantially mitigate global warming impacts. According to Tim LaSalle, CEO Rodale Institute, organic agriculture, if practiced on the planet’s 3.5 billion tillable acres, could sequester nearly 40 percent of current CO2 emissions. “We call this approach regenerative organic agriculture to signify its focus on renewing resources through complementary biological systems which feed and improve the soil as well as avoiding harmful synthetic inputs.”

Regenerative organic farming, focused on enhancing long-term biological interactions, turns soil into a carbon reservoir, while conventional farming with large chemical imputs has the opposite effect of releasing carbon into the atmosphere. In addition, organic management also changes the structure of the soil, improving its ability to store water and deliver nutrients to plants over time as soil carbon levels continue to increase. Rodale research shows that no-till organic farming can reduce the energy input into farming by about 70 percent. Further, organic food offers health advantages and has become a lifestyle choice in many societies.

For these interconnected reasons, much more policy assistance for the organic sector is needed. Case studies (UNCTAD 2008, IFOAM 2008) have shown that the development of organic farming has, so far, been initiated mainly by NGOs or private companies. Still, governments should play an important role in providing a supportive framework for organic farming. Policy strategies should consist of a combination of market supply and demand measures. Since appropriate measures depend on the state of the organic agriculture market in the respective country, an in-depth integrated assessment of existing agriculture policies should be the first step.

Click here to read more about WFC Councillor Vandana Shiva’s projects to support organic farming in India.

Based on this initial assessment a selection of policies should be considered:

An area particularly worthy of state support is the recycling of urban bio-waste into organic fertilizers. This contributes to sanitation and environmental protection, and it provides carbon storing materials for farms. To trigger this process, governments could give financial incentives (e.g. low-interest loans) to recycling plant operators, or to erect recycling plants under state supervision.

Case Study: Costa Rica

One of the developing countries with the highest proportion of organic farming, 2.4 per cent certified, Costa Rica has a well-developed organic sector. As in most other countries, small farmers and NGOs were the first to get involved in organic agriculture. Local certification bodies and academics have also supported its development. In 2004, there were 3,500 farmers cultivating 10,800 hectares organically. Most certified organic production is for the export market, which is estimated to be worth US$ 10 million. Main export crops include coffee, banana, cocoa, orange juice, blackberries, pineapple, cane sugar, aloe and other medicinal plants. In the domestic market, there is now a supply of most products, certified and uncertified. The domestic sales are estimated to be US$ 1.5 million.

Lack of produce is a limiting factor for further market development. Various government programmes and institutions support most aspects of the sector, including domestic and export market development, food processing, credits and extension service. The National Organic Agriculture Programme was established in 1999 and, together with the sector, the agency developed a national strategy for organic production based on participatory consultations. Since 2001, there has been a mandatory organic regulation in place and Costa Rica is the only developing country, other than Argentina and India, which has acquired recognition for exports of organic products to the European Union. There is also a governmental seal available for all certified producers; however, it is not yet widely recognized. There are two domestic certification organizations and four foreign ones active in Costa Rica, with the domestic ones having the most clients. The sector is organized through one organization and collaboration between the sector and the Government is very well developed.

How does the global food system contribute to climate change?

energy_and_food_production_01A 2006 report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) concluded that worldwide livestock farming generates 18 per cent of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions. The global food system as a whole produces nearly 40 per cent of carbon emissions. By comparison, all the world’s cars, trains, planes and boats combined account for a total of 13 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. This obviously has major implications for food policy.

A great deal of energy goes into producing, packaging, transporting, storing and cooking food. In the USA tomatoes can travel over 2,000 kms to end up in a supermarket. Buying from local farmers, tomatoes only have to travel about 100 kms or less.

The graph shows that the largest energy expense in the ‘food chain’ occurs after food arrives in the home. For policy solutions in this sector go to our energy efficiency section.

How does agriculture contribute to climate change?

Modern agriculture, food production and distribution are major contributors of greenhouse gases: Agriculture is directly responsible for 14 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions, and broader rural land use decisions have an even larger impact. Deforestation currently accounts for an additional 18 per cent of emissions.

In this context, a historical perspective needs to be considered: Dr. Rattan Lal, Professor of Soil Science at Ohio State University, has calculated that over the last 150 years, 476 billions of tonnes of carbon has been emitted from farmland soils due to inappropriate farming and grazing practices, compared with ‘only’ 270 Gt emitted from of burning of fossil fuels. A more frequently quoted figure is that 200 to 250 Gt of carbon have been lost from the biosphere as a whole in the last 300 years. Whatever the correct figure, these reductions of ‘living carbon potential’ have resulted from

  • deforestation
  • biodiversity loss
  • accelerated soil erosion
  • loss of soil organic matter
  • salinisation of soils
  • costal water pollution and
  • acidification of the oceans

Land use changes can also significantly contribute to climate change. Large scale changes such as deforestation, soil erosion or machine-intensive farming methods may all contribute to increased carbon concentrations in the atmosphere. Soil erosion by water, wind and tillage affects both agriculture and the natural environment. Soil loss, and its associated impacts, is one of the most important (yet probably the least well-known) of today’s environmental problems.

The contribution of farm animals to global greenhouse gas emissions is quite significant:

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Future Policy Award 2012: Oceans and Coasts

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Abstract

The WFC chose oceans and coasts as the topic for the Future Policy Award 2012 to highlight policies that contribute to the sustainable management of the world’s oceans and coastal resources, whilst tackling the loss of marine and coastal biodiversity. Decision-makers have a critical role to play, poor management of marine environment is the root cause of biodiversity loss and degradation of these vital ecosystems.

 

Designing Future Just Laws on Biodiversity

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Abstract

Future Just laws must embody the highest standard of sustainability, respect for human rights, and respect for the environment. This training material for government officials and parliamentarians presents an approach to drafting and preparing a Future Just biodiversity law for a technical audience, with the aim of supporting national focal point officials or other government officials tasked with preparing biodiversity legislation.

Handbook: Supporting nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament

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Abstract

The Handbook “Supporting nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament” identifies existing examples of good practice in the area of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament and offers recommendations for further parliamentary action. The Inter-Parliamentary Union has commissioned Rob van Riet, Coordinator of the WFC Disarmament Programme, and Alyn Ware, Global Coordinator of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (PNND) and WFC Councillor, to produce the handbook.

   

Handbook: Supporting nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament

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Abstract

The Handbook “Supporting nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament” identifies existing examples of good practice in the area of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament and offers recommendations for further parliamentary action. The Inter-Parliamentary Union has commissioned Rob van Riet, Coordinator of the WFC Disarmament Programme, and Alyn Ware, Global Coordinator of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (PNND) and WFC Councillor, to produce the handbook.