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Warsaw: Global Landscape Forum Launches Alongside COP19

WFP's Deputy Executive Director for Hunger Solutions Sheila Sisulu stresses the need for farmers in Africa and India to shift to climate smart agriculture.

As climate talks continued at COP19 and climate activists took to the streets of Warsaw to demand an end to business as usual, the first Global Landscapes Forum debuted at the University of Warsaw Saturday, launching a two day conference to promote a novel holistic approach to addressing climate change while meeting the need to sustainably feed 9 billion people by 2050.

Fast on the heels of Rio+20 and the publishing of the twelve Sustainable Development Goals, the GLF attracted hundreds of participants (world leaders, policymakers, scientists, donors, the private sector, indigenous and community groups, and climate negotiators) to participate in discussions on how agriculture and forestry – which contribute up to one third of GHGs - can collaborate to design and implement solutions which surpass traditional sector-specific approaches.

Peter Holmgren, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), who moderated Saturday's opening plenary identified four themes of the conference:

• Investing in sustainable landscapes in forests and on farms
• Landscapes policy and governance for forestry, agriculture and other land uses
• Synergies between adapting to and mitigating climate change in forest and   agricultural landscapes
• Landscapes for food security and nutrition

Fueled by Saturday's announcement that the United Nations' Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) will not be including agriculture on this year's agenda, (Read Why aren't climate negotiators listening to 1.4 billion farmers?), World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development Rachel Kyte lamented the lack of communication between COP negotiators and both researchers and environmental and agricultural ministers.

While negotiators might not yet realize the link between the landscape approach and food security and mitigation, "it’s never too late to get agriculture and forests incorporated into the Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals," Kyte said.

The ‘landscape approach’ significantly shifts how policy and science are applied to address climate change and stresses the integral need to level the playing field when it comes to the equality of voices involved in the process of planning and decision making.

The link between forestry and agriculture is key, as the two sectors collectively employ billions of people, workers who produce all of our natural food and fibers and contribute 10% of our biomass energy.  Engaging all stakeholders - from the small farmer or cattle rancher to the investment bankers, governments and NGOs - is key to designing resilient interconnected systems which maintain biodiversity, support ecosystems and ensure a sustainable and safe water supply.

"First off, we think of a ‘landscape’ as a socio-ecological system – a mosaic of natural and/or human-modified ecosystems, influenced by the ecological, historical, economic, and cultural processes and activities of the area," explain EcoAgriculture Partners Sara J. Scherr, Seth Shames, and Rachel Friedman.

One of the most significant topics of the Forum was the highly significant role of  Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) within the landscape paradigm.

CSA strengthens resilience by improving crop productivity and farmers' incomes while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  Employing techniques such as crop rotation, mulching, integrating crop-livestock management and improving water management, CSA also incorporates innovative weather forecasting technologies. (See, for example, aWhere’s New Precipitation Resource and its Importance in Agriculture.)

Speaking on Climate Smart Agriculture at the GLF Sunday, World Food Program Deputy Executive Director for Hunger Solutions Sheila Sisulu stressed the need "to focus on people, to be close to people because we cannot be smart without them ... they are central to landscapes."  

With over half of the world's population experiencing some form of malnutrition, Sisulu said she fears the sustainable development goals will not sufficiently address food security and stressed the need for farmers in Africa and India to shift to climate smart agriculture. (For a CSA success story, see Plump Goats and Pawpaws: A Story of Climate-Smart Farming in Kenya)

Hosted at the University of Warsaw with Poland's Ministry of the Environment and Ministry Agriculture and Rural Development,  The Global Landscape Forum was coordinated by CIFOR, CGIAR and CCAFS.  Visit the website for more information on other participating organizations and partners.


Through the lens of the beautiful Gunung Halimun Salak National Park area in Java – and the lives of those who live there – we explore just what a ‘landscape approach’ means, as a way to reconcile conservation, agriculture, development and industry in a single area, and ensure we feed the earth’s growing population while preserving our environment.

The University of Warsaw in Saturday evening's gentle mist

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