Koronivia: The Story is in the Soil

4 December 2019

It can be all too easy to accuse UNFCCC negotiations of being somewhat lofty and distant from the issues on the ground. But we’re pleased to share that the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA) is proudly bucking that trend with a workshop this week on a topic that goes in the opposite direction€¦

Yes, friends. We’re having a workshop on MANURE. Really.

Specifically, it’s on “improved nutrient use and manure management towards sustainable and resilient agricultural systems”. ECO knows this may sound hilarious to the urbanites among you. But folks with their hands in the soil know that this topic underpins the future of food security and climate stability. It may not be glamorous, but it’s incredibly important.

Half a century of industrialised agriculture has pushed our climate and ecosystems to breaking point. Energy is needed to produce synthetic nitrogen fertilisers. This is primarily from the burning of fossil fuels, and the resulting nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide emissions when these are produced and applied to soils are contributors to the climate crisis. Soils degraded by application of these fertilisers hold less water and natural nutrients and leave crops more vulnerable to climate impacts. Industrial agriculture is no longer fit for purpose in an era of climate change, and it must be transformed.

The recent IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land (SRCCL), released in August this year, confirms the urgent need to shift from industrial agriculture towards sustainable land management approaches such as agroecology and agroforestry.

The landmark SRCCL, authored by 107 experts from 52 countries, provided a comprehensive overview of the entire land-climate system for the first time.

It is telling us that we need to move away from chemical fertilisers – now – and go all-in with agroecological approaches which  use nature to naturally build up and fertilise soils using techniques such as composting, mulching, leguminous nitrogen-fixing crops, and €“ of course – manure.

Big Ag has had its day. It is squeezing profits from farmers, driving deforestation, eroding global crop diversity, weakening soils, undermining adaptation and driving climate change. It’s time for agroecology to take root in our food systems and to start thinking long-term.

Parties now have the chance to put science and ancestral knowledge into policy action at the KJWA. This workshop might be on the unglamorous issue of manure, but it really is an opportunity to address the planet’s climate, agriculture and social crises from the ground up.

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