In 2015 world leaders signed historic agreements – the Paris Agreement, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the broader 2030 Agenda. The goal? Push for a more just and sustainable world by 2030. These inter-linked agendas promised to transform the world, to end poverty, to reduce inequality, ensure peace, and deal with the climate crisis; to set us on a path towards a just transition and a holistic approach to the systems which underpin our economy, society, and environment. So far, delivery has failed to live up to this bold ambition.
We are in a Climate Crisis
The recent IPCC report showed that our food systems are estimated to cause up to 29% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. This is due to unsustainable crop and livestock production as well as deforestation and other changes in how we use land. In fact, there are estimates that agriculture is directly responsible for 80% of deforestation worldwide.
We can see what this means in Brazil where researchers say the wildfires in the rainforest were set with the aim of clearing land for commercial gain.
By burning trees, the rainforest not only loses its ability to store carbon but it also releases more carbon into the atmosphere. Its function as an ecosystem stabilizer is in jeopardy as well.
Unsustainable Agriculture is Part of the Problem
Chemical fertilizers used to grow food are responsible for the majority of nitrous oxide released into the atmosphere as a result of human activity.
Nitrous oxide is released into the atmosphere when artificial fertilizer is produced, and spread onto the land. It has almost 300 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide and is responsible for about six percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions globally.
Unsustainable agriculture is contributing to global warming, contaminating soil, threatening rural livelihoods as well as food & nutrition security.
Organic Agriculture Offers a Solution
Done right, agriculture such as agroecology and organic can be a transition pathway to the solutions needed for climate resiliency and sustainable food systems.
Let’s start with soil.
Soil is a carbon sink locking two to three times as much carbon away as there is present in the atmosphere. So, conserving soil carbon by managing the way land is grazed or restoring organic soils can be cost-effective ways to reduce emissions.
By not using chemical nitrogen fertilizers, organic farming reduces greenhouse gases, especially nitrous oxide.
Changing food systems also means changing conditions for farmers and food workers by placing greater emphasis on equity, social justice and inclusivity. Changing our diets, for example, eating less meat, and choosing locally grown, seasonal, organic produce plays an important role as well.
Farming for the Future
Farmers often bear the brunt of climate change. Helping farmers, particularly smallholder farmers, adapt to climate change needs to be a top priority for policy-makers to ensure the transformation of agriculture. Such policies and policy tools conducive to sustainable farming are crucial in supporting organic farmers that are contributing to the common good and producing good food for all.
To find out more about how the world’s organic farmers are safeguarding biodiversity, enriching soil, and protecting water resources, please watch our ‘Organic Farmers, Our Everyday Superheroes’ video displayed below.
In the previous blog posts, you’ll find posts exploring extraordinary innovations, organic policies, scientific research and expert opinions on organic. Check them out!