Transforming Agriculture, Transforming Conservation: New partnerships for global environmental resilience and food sovereignty

Integrating conservation with agriculture and food security has now become central to sustainable development at all scales, from local community to global, and is at the heart of the challenges in greening the economy and sustaining ecosystems. If we are to enhance nature’s resilience and sustain biocultural diversity we must engage with agriculture. However, it is only recently that conservation organizations have begun to embrace this challenge. Existing alliances with movements for sustainable and landscape approaches to agriculture are still nascent, and there is much fertile ground for productive partnerships in this area. This workshop will identify conceptual and operational approaches to enable conservation organizations to form partnerships with agro-ecological, agro-biodiversity and food sovereignty movements.
In the first part of the workshop we will frame the challenge. Agriculture is increasingly recognized as a dominant driver of global environmental change. Agriculture and food systems are major contributors to green-house gas emissions, the disruptions of water and nutrient cycles, biocide loads, and land degradation. Within agriculture there are dangerous declines in agro-biodiversity, agro-ecosystem function, threats from pests and diseases; all accentuated by climate change. In both food production and consumption social equity concerns are reaching crisis point. Profound changes in agricultural systems will be crucial to greening the economy and climate mitigation, (e.g. soil-carbon sequestration; management of the forest-farm interface; reductions in fossil fuel inputs). Importantly many of the solutions to agricultural sustainability are derived from similar ecological and management principles to those in conservation practice, including working with mosaics and connectivity at landscape scale.
In the second part of the workshop we will explore practical learning from transformational partnerships between conservationists and farmers towards sustaining ecological function and diversity in significant landscapes. The focus will be on how management for complexity, diversity and resilience in agricultural production systems at landscape scale (including agro-biodiversity, nutrient cycling, soil health, water management) can be woven together with goals of conserving “wild” biodiversity at landscape scales and of building local green economies, food security and social equity. It will integrate knowledge arising from long experience in ancient systems with that derived from the sciences of complexity.

Organizer: The Christensen Fund

Partner(s): Bioversity International, IUCN-WCPA Protected Landscapes Specialist Group, UNDP/GEF Small Grants Programme, FAO – GIAHS, George Wright Society, Satoyama International Partnership, National Tropical Botanical Garden

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