Agroecology could feed and save the planet, says UN

To feed the world while preserving the planet from global warming, the UN is promoting agroecology, a historic turning point after several decades of "green revolution" based on intensive agriculture, now in the dock.

"We need to promote sustainable food systems (…) and preserve the environment: agroecology can help achieve this," said the director-general of the UN agency on Tuesday. Agriculture and Food (FAO) José Graziano da Silva, opening of the Second International Symposium on Agroecology in Rome

Since the end of the Second World War, the development of agriculture based on the Massive use of fertilizers and chemical resources (pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc.) to increase yields to achieve food security for the planet has had a high price for the environment, he said.

"Soils, forests, water, air quality and biodiversity continue to deteriorate as this increase in production at all costs has not eradicated hunger in the world", he admitted.

The former French Minister of Agriculture Stéphane Le Foll, guest of honor at the opening session of the symposium for his active support to agroecology since 2012, for his part called to a "doubly green revolution based on nature". "FAO was the site of the first green revolution, it must be the place of a doubly green revolution," he said.

Based on the knowledge of each farmer on his plots, allied with the latest developments scientists, by using better soil treatments to be more fertile and store more carbon, as well as a biodiversity of plant species, agroecology turns its back on synthetic fertilizers. It also tries to reduce the dependence on excessive mechanization which increases the financial burden on farmers.

"We must move away from the monoculture system as it dominated the previous century," said the President of Fida ( International Fund for Agricultural Development) Gilbert Houngbo, another UN agency responsible for supporting agriculture in developing countries

The symposium, which brings together several hundred delegates from around the world, ends Thursday with a "final declaration" to be considered by the UN Committee on Agriculture in September, Graziano da Silva said.

About 30 countries to date, most of them Latin America, South Korea, China, Côte d'Ivoire, as well as Austria, Germany, Denmark, France, Switzerland and Italy, have adopted a legislative or regulatory framework to facilitate of the Agroecology development, he said.

– The example of Andhra Pradesh in India –

According to him, "much remains to be done" to convince a majority of conventional farmers that the system is viable and profitable. "Something is happening, we must continue the battle," for his part held Mr. Le Foll.

came from India, Vijay Kumar, advisor for agricultural issues of the Government of the State d Andhra Pradesh, in south-east India, illustrates both the enthusiasm and the scale of the revolution to be achieved.

"We have decided that 80% of the 6 million farmers in State should move to agroecology by 2024 ", told AFP Mr. Kumar.

" The green revolution was based on false principles, with continued dependence on inputs, and our peasants earn nothing, (…) and worse, we had waves of peasant suicide in India, "he adds.

" We want food production to increase among happy peasants, "he says. saying himself delighted to see more and more young graduates coming back to earth, "with good ideas."

But the road remains long: in 2017 , Andhra Pradesh had about 40,000 farmers working according to the principles of agroecology, 163,000 in 2018, a figure that should increase to 300,000 in 2019. Still far from the goal.

Soils of the planet are degraded, causing massive migrations

At least 50 million humans will be forced to migrate by 2050 because of the deterioration of the planet's soil, and up to 700 million if nothing is done to stop the damage, Monday said. Dozens of scientists

"Soil degradation, biodiversity loss and climate change are three facets of the same important challenge: the increasingly dangerous impact of our choices on our natural environment," he said. expert Robert Watson, presenting the first ever global report on this topic.

This deterioration, caused inter alia by unsustainable agricultural practices, pollution and urban expansion, is already affecting 3.2 billion people, or 40% of the world's population.

 Robert Watson ( d), Chair of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), at the presentation of the first global report on the state of the soil, March 26, 2018 in Medellin, Colombia (AFP - JOAQUIN SARMIENTO)

Robert Watson (d), Chair of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), on the presentation of the first global report on soil conditions, March 26, 2018 in Medellin, Colombia (AFP – JOAQUIN SARMIENTO)

Soils are in a "critical" state, warns this vast study unveiled at the end of the 6th plenary session of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services es (IPBES) held since March 17 in Medellin, Colombia

"We have transformed a large part of our forests, our meadows, we have lost 87% of our wetlands (…) We really changed the Earth's surface, "lamented Mr Watson, president of IPBES, which has 129 member countries and has already warned last Friday about a massive extinction of the planet's species.

Badly exploited or overexploited, soils lose as. This translates into a decrease in "arable land and therefore livelihoods," which "will force people to leave," he told AFP.

– Global warming –

 Soil degradation (AFP - Anella RETA)

Soil degradation (AFP – Anella RETA)

By 2050, this degradation "combined with the problems of climate change, which are closely linked, will constrain 50 to 700 million people to migrate ", adds this analysis carried out by a hundred volunteer researchers from 45 countries.

The most optimistic projection will be reached even" if we really try to have more sustainable agricultural and forestry practices, to minimize climate change, "added Watson.

But "if we continue with our unsustainable practices," some 700 million humans will be forced to migrate over the next thirty years, he warned.

The phenomenon is fueled by the "highly consumerist lifestyle" of rich countries, as well as by the growth of incomes and demography in developing countries, the report adds.

It is also a factor of wars: "declining soil productivity makes societies more vulnerable to social instability, especially in dry regions, where years of very low rainfall have been associated with an increase in violent conflict of up to 45% ", according to the researchers.

 A lioness in a zoo in Medellin, March 20, 2018 in Colombia (AFP / Archives - Joaquin SARMIENTO)

A lioness in a zoo in Medellin, March 20, 2018 in Colombia (AFP / Archives – Joaquin SARMIENTO)

It has an impact on food security, the water we drink, the air we breathe, and therefore on all the inhabitants of the Earth, with an estimated economic cost of 10% of annual GDP. 19659002] IPBES pointed out that "4 / 5th of the world's population lives in areas threatened by lack of water" and that only 25% of the world's land has not been "significantly affected" by the human activity, a ratio that is expected to fall to 10% by 2050.

"Tropical forests have historically been sparsely populated because it was difficult to get in. Today we build roads, let us introduce agriculture, "Robert Scholes, one of the co-authors of the report, told AFP.

This affects animals, plants as well as forests that produce oxygen and absorb the gases responsible for global warming. The loss in biodiversity is expected to be 38-46% by 2050.

– Impact on biodiversity –

The report has required three years of work and compiles all recent scientific publications on this topic. Its realization cost about 810,000 euros (one million dollars).

The experts and decision-makers of the IPBES member countries "approved it (…) after thirty hours" of in-camera debates, said Anne Larigauderie, executive secretary of the organization.

On Friday, the IPBES issued a disturbing verdict on the planet's biodiversity, threatened by the first massive extinction of species since that of the dinosaurs and the first caused by humans.

Beyond the diagnosis, it has Monday again gave recommendations: generalization of sustainable agricultural practices, pollution control, urban planning including "green infrastructures", parks, among others.

Ms. Larigauderie told AFP "that it is possible to act (…) governments have at their disposal tools to do this".

The benefits of soil restoration are ten times higher than their cost, according to IPBES, which insisted on the need to coordinate international, national and individual actions, now fragmented.

"Take the Adequate measures to combat the deterioration of the earth can transform the lives of millions of people around the world, said Watson, but the longer we take action, the more difficult and costly it will be. "

How can everyone act against the degradation of the planet

Everyone, on his own scale, can help save what can still be saved. This is the message advocated at the Sixth Session of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) . It gathered until Saturday, March 24, 2018 some 550 experts from more than 100 countries in Medellin, in Colombia . They submitted four reports on the Americas, Africa, Asia-Pacific and Europe-Central Asia. Their documents warn of the risks of a massive extinction of the species of the Earth, the first since that of the dinosaurs. Far from yielding to defeatism, they called everyone to act. "We are sabotaging our own future well-being! The good news is (…) that it's not too late!" argued the president of IPBES, Robert Watson

Fewer Beef

"We also need to change behaviors" he said. "There is no doubt that as individuals we must be responsible consumers of food, water and energy." The consumption choices of each have effects on the production of products. "It concerns us entirely (…) what we consume, what we eat, how we dress", repeated Mark Rounsevell, one of the co-authors of the reports. Adapting our daily diet could therefore help the preservation of the planet.

"It takes 25 kg of greenery to produce one kilo of beef protein (…) is a ratio largely ineffective" Watson said. Without advocating diets that ignore animal products. "We do not need to become all vegetarians!", Defends Mr. Watson. But a more balanced diet, less beef, more chicken and vegetables (…) can really help reduce the pressure on both climate change and biodiversity. "[19659005] Cattle breeding is, indeed, one of the main emitters of methane (CH 4 ), the second greenhouse gas behind the dioxide carbon (CO 2 ). According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) the warming effect of CH 4 produced in the gastrointestinal tract is 28 times greater than that of CO 2 over a 100-year period, and agricultural livestock would be responsible for 5.5% of total global emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities, so it contributes on a global scale to global warming and the loss of biodiversity that results.

Less waste

Intensive agriculture also directly affects local biodiversity. Mark Rounsevell lamented that Europe "subsidizes farmers to overproduce food at the expense of nature" . An alert that is part of a sad fact: about one third of world food production is wasted . The president of the IPBES has called "not too much to buy at the supermarket and then let it rot in your refrigerator" and reduce the portions in the restaurants so that leftovers do not end up in the trash . "Do not waste water, do not waste food, do not waste energy!" he said. "Do not let the water run when you brush your teeth, take reasonable showers (…) prefer public transport, turn off the light" when leaving a room.

Expand Renewable energies with intelligence

Action against global warming obviously can not escape the implementation of effective policies in this area. "What we need is sustainable production (…) of adequate funding, free of subsidies," said Watson, emphasizing the need to give up fossil fuels. " Anne Larigauderie, executive secretary of IPBES, for her part, pointed out the inconsistency of certain policies: the preservation of the climate, to the benefit of the world, is sometimes to the detriment of local biodiversity. " By For example, we are designing biofuels to combat climate change (…). But if the surfaces put in culture to make them are at the expense of biodiversity (…), one creates another long-term problem "she warned.

Another co- author of the IPBES reports, Markus Fischer, calls for the mobilization of citizens: "We are consumers, we are citizens with the right to vote, parents (…) so we are ourselves decision makers (…) and these hundreds of decisions we make, can be more favorable to biodiversity, or not! " And it is these decisions that " build our choice of society and determine our future. " Combining global policies and local actions, here is the challenge of the fight against global warming.

The planet waiting for its health check

Experts from around the world are due Friday to report on the state of the planet's biodiversity, facing the sixth extinction of plant and animal species of its existence, the first since the dinosaurs disappeared.

"If we continue like this, yes, the sixth extinction, the first one caused by humans, will continue!" Warned Robert Watson, chair of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), which brings together these specialists in Medellin, Colombia

"The good news is (…) that it is not too late," Watson told AFP on the eve of launch of four huge IPBES reports covering the Americas, Africa, Asia-Pacific and Europe-Central Asia.

 Global warming (AFP - Simon MALFATTO)

Global warming (AFP – Simon MALFATTO)

For three years, some 600 researchers have worked voluntarily on these regional assessments, which synthesize the data of about 10,000 scientific publications.

The final result covers the whole of the Earth, except the international waters of the oceans and Antarctica.

These reports also suggest ways to minimize the impact of human activities on the environment.

– 750 scientists and decision-makers –

"The IPBES conference will tell us that the situation continues to deteriorate, "said WWF Director General Marco Lambertini on Thursday to AFP, saying the experts would emphasize" the importance of protecting nature for our own good. "

Before this 6th session, IPBES has already warned that the Earth is facing a "massive extinction" of species, the first since the disappearance of dinosaurs about 65 million years ago and the sixth in 500 million years.

 Sudan, the famous white rhinoceros from Kenya and the last male of its species, recently dead, in Nanyuki, Kenya on December 5, 2016 (AFP / Archives - Tony KARUMBA)

Sudan, the famous white rhinoceros of Kenya and the last male of his species, recently dead, in Nanyuki, Kenya on December 5, 2016 (AFP / Archives – Tony KARUMBA)

Two species of vertebrates have disappeared on average each year for a century. Another is about to disappear with the recent death of Sudan, the famous white rhinoceros from Kenya and the last male of its species, decimated by poaching and of which only two females remain.

This week, more than 750 scientists and policymakers from 116 IPBES member countries (now numbering 129, with Armenia joining the meeting) drafted a synthesis of each of the four reports, also intended to guide leaders in the protection of biodiversity .

Each word in these thirty-page long texts was negotiated in closed-door debates at a major hotel in Medellin, Colombia's second largest city.

Moving from transportation to education, through agriculture, these "summaries" are not binding. These are "suggestions", however told AFP the executive secretary of the IPBES, Anne Larigauderie.

– A fifth report Monday –

According to the WWF, between a quarter and half of the species of 33 of the world's most biodiverse regions could be threatened by the climate change by 2080.

 The pantanal, the largest wetland on the planet (AFP - Nicolas RAMALLO)

The pantanal, the largest wetland on the planet (AFP – Nicolas RAMALLO)

"Biodiversity and climate change are two sides of the same coin of the ecological crisis we are facing," said Lambertini.

On Monday, IPBES will launch a fifth report, the first of its kind on the state of the world's soils, increasingly degraded by pollution, deforestation, mining and unsustainable agricultural practices that impoverish them.

The delegates of the IPBES is found in a country with more than 56,300 species of plants and animals, the most bio-diverse on the planet after Brazil, which is eight times larger.

In inaugurating this summit meeting on March 17, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos stressed that "what happens to one happens to all."

"If we are aware of this, we can be more responsible for protecting the environment and preserving peace," said Santos, whose country is slowly emerging from more than half a century. century of armed conflict

burx-fpp / plh

IPBES: a first report on the biodiversity of the planet expected

" If we continue thus, yes, the sixth extinction, the first caused by humans will continue! ", warned Robert Watson, president of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) bringing together these specialists in Medellin, Colombia . " The good news is (…) that it is not too late ," Watson told AFP on the eve of the launch of four huge reports of IPBES on the Americas, Africa, Asia-Pacific and Europe-Central Asia

Species disappear

For three years, some 600 researchers volunteered on these regional assessments, which synthesize the data of about 10,000 scientific publications. The final result covers the entire Earth, except for the international waters of the oceans and Antarctica. These reports also suggest ways to minimize the impact of human activities on the environment. " The IPBES conference will tell us that the situation continues to deteriorate ," WWF Director General Marco Lambertini told AFP on 22 March, saying the experts were going to emphasize " the importance of protecting nature for our own good "

Prior to this sixth session, IPBES has already warned that the Earth is facing a " massive extinction "of species the first since the disappearance of the dinosaurs about 65 million years ago and the sixth in 500 million years. Two species of vertebrates have disappeared on average each year for a century. Another is about to disappear with the recent death Sudan, famous white rhino Kenya and last male of its kind, decimated by poaching and of which there are only two females. Throughout this week, more than 750 scientists and policymakers from 116 IPBES member countries (now numbering 129, Armenia joining the meeting) drafted a synthesis of each of the four reports, also intended to guide the leaders in the protection of biodiversity

Each word in these thirty-page long texts was negotiated during closed debates at a large hotel in Medellin, Colombia's second largest city. Going from transportation to education, through agriculture, these "summaries" are not binding. These are "suggestions" however, told AFP the executive secretary of IPBES, Anne Larigauderie.

A fifth report on March 26

According to the WWF, between a quarter and half of the world's 33 richest biodiversity species could be threatened by 2080 by climate change. " Biodiversity and climate change are two sides of the same coin of the ecological crisis we are facing ," said Lambertini. On March 26, IPBES will launch a fifth report, the first of its kind on the state of the world's soils, increasingly degraded by pollution, deforestation, mining and unsustainable agricultural practices that impoverish them.

The delegates of IPBES are in a country with more than 56,300 species of plants and animals, the most bio-diverse on the planet after Brazil, which is eight times larger. In inaugurating this summit meeting on March 17, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos stressed that " what happens to one happens to all ." " If we are aware of this, we can be more responsible in protecting the environment and preserving peace ," said Santos, whose country is slowly emerging from more than half a century of armed conflict