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November 24, 2009

EcoAgriculture Partners Newsletter

‘Ecoagriculture’ is no longer just a concept. Around the world, innovators are operationalizing the idea of landscapes ‘for people, food and nature’. These changes are not just happening on isolated farmsteads, but in terms of large-scale programs, integrating a variety of exciting new opportunities. This issue of our Newsletter illustrates this evolution. Leaders of African national programs on sustainable land management are sharing lessons from their experience implementing cross-sectoral investments.  University students are learning from practitioners how ecoagriculture is developed in real landscapes. Other articles highlight international actions to design a carbon market facility based on ecoagriculture principles, to implement climate-friendly dairy production, and to enable investors to assess the biodiversity risks and opportunities of food companies. Help us bring more such efforts to the attention of the more than 5000 members of this ecoagriculture community of practice, in over 116 countries, by sending in organizational news of your own work.

Sara J. Scherr and Ariela Summit, Editors


Table of Contents

EcoAgriculture Partners Updates In the Scene Resources Call for Papers, Partners, and Proposals Upcoming Events



EcoAgriculture Partners Updates

Ecoagriculture Partners and FAO host roundtable on climate adaptation and mitigation synergies

Ecoagriculture Partners and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations hosted their third event in the Climate Change and Agriculture Discussion Series on 10 November 2009 the United Nations Foundation in Washington DC.  The session focused on the idea that agriculture provides a unique opportunity to integrate climate adaptation and mitigation efforts in ways that simultaneously address climate change and increase food security.

The session began with updates from participants including FAO’s Dan Gustafson who announced the organizations new report Food Security and Agricultural Mitigation in Developing Countries: Options for Capturing Synergies. Melinda Kimble from the UN Foundation reported back on the latest developments on the relevant elements of the climate UNFCCC climate negotiations from the UNFCCC’s meeting in Barcelona.  Updates were followed by a presentation from Johanna Matocha of New Leaf Global covering landuse activities and strategies to maximize adaptation and mitigation synergies. Seth Shames from Ecoagriculture Partners then presented on policy paths towards integrating climate and food security goals. The presentations were followed by a discussion. 

The next EP-FAO Rountable session is scheduled for late January. For more information, contact Sarah Fulton, sarah.fulton@fao.org.

AgricultureBridge tests multimedia cases in Cornell University classrooms

A pilot version of the AgricultureBridge internet platform was launched in early November for use by a graduate class in International Conservation at Cornell University, taught by Professor Jim Lassoie. The students will explore four case studies on ecoagriculture that are being used to pilot test the AgricultureBridge learning system. A report on the test will be prepared at the end of the fall. The pilot test will inform the implementation of a semester-long trial and evaluation of the AgricultureBridge system, in the spring, including ten case studies on ecoagriculture.

AgricultureBridge is a web-based platform that allows field-based agriculture professionals and university-based educators to create case studies using video, photos, text, maps and other media. The case studies can be used in a wide variety of classes related to agriculture to provide authentic, experiential based learning opportunities for students. The AgricultureBridge initiative is a collaboration between Cornell University, UC Berkeley and Ecoagriculture Partners. Other users will test the platform and cases in 2010.

For more information, contact Louise Buck at: leb3@cornell.edu.

International Healers Exchange and Conference held in Bangalore, India

An International Healers Exchange and Conference on Traditional Medicine and Sustainable Healthcare was held in Bangalore, India from 8-20 November 2009. The conference was jointly organized by a group of organizations including Comparing and Supporting Endogenous Development, The Foundation for the Revitalization of Local Health Traditions, the Government of India, the UNDP Equator Initiative, and Ecoagriculture Partners, among others.

Around 50 healers from Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe and Americas participated in the exchange program. Healers visited various centers of excellence in traditional medicine in India from 8-17 of November. The conference from 19-20 November included around 100 participants including academicians, researchers, NGOs and policy makers as well as from healers. For more information see: http://www.frlht.org/compasnov09.htm or contact G. Hariramamurthi at: g.hari@frlht.org.

TerrAfrica regional knowledge-sharing workshop on sustainable land management held in Ghana

This two day workshop held in early November focused on peer sharing and learning for capacity development in sustainable land and water management. It was hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency of Ghana, facilitated by the Food and Agriculture Organization and Ecoagriculture Partners and supported by the TerrAfrica and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) partnership.  The workshop brought together senior level professionals in agriculture and environmental management agencies from nations that are developing Country Sustainable Land Management Investment Framework strategies to learn from one another’s experience and to share ideas about how to implement the strategies. 

Louise Buck of Ecoagriculture Partners facilitated sessions on linking monitoring and evaluation with knowledge management, to support collaboration and adaptive management in sustainable land and water management programming.  Participants considered the types of indicators that could be measured by different stakeholders to advance monitoring and evaluation and knowledge management objectives.  They also considered ways of collaborating to gain useful experience in monitoring and evaluation and knowledge management.

The Environmental Protection Agency of Ghana is preparing a report of the workshop that will provide further detail.  For more information contact Jonathan A. Allotey at: jan_allotey@yahoo.com.

Ecoagriculture Partners co-organizes feasibility study for African Agricultural Carbon Facility

Ecoagriculture Partners has been working with Forest Trends (an international NGO focused on forest ecosystem service markets) and Climate Focus (a private firm specializing in carbon offset finance) to undertake a feasibility study for an Africa agricultural carbon facility, with financial support from the Rockefeller Foundation. The objective would be an Africa-led facility that could mobilize carbon finance for smallholder farmers to implement investments in sustainable agriculture and land management.

Milestones in this feasibility study included a one day consultation in Uganda with national leaders working on land use and carbon, held on 10 September in Kampala and a roundtable discussion meeting held 14-16 September at the Bellagio Center in Italy. The meeting had 23 participants, including investment experts, donors, the private sector, technical carbon project planning and monitoring experts, and African experts from the field, as well as Sara Scherr and Seth Shames from Ecoagriculture Partners and our co-organizers.  Participants discussed objectives, activities and governance of the proposed Facility; project types, and financial barriers as well as monitoring methods, sources of finance and governance. Participants concluded that such a facility should address ecoagriculture-type projects integrating carbon sequestration with sustainable agriculture and other ecosystem services, like watershed restoration, for local food security and livelihood benefits.

For more details and follow-up, contact Seth Shames at sshames@ecoagriculture.org.

USDA Office for Ecosystem Services and Management, Ecoagriculture Partners, UC Berkeley to document farms earning income from ecosystem service markets

In a project funded by the newly created USDA Office of Ecosystem Services (OESM), Ecoagriculture Partners and UC-Berkeley’s Center for Sustainable Resource Development will produce a set of five written case studies, along with five posters that graphically demonstrate the financial benefits that Markets for Ecosystem Services provide to farmers in the profiled landscapes. Tentative sites include a crop farm in the Chesapeake Bay; a fruit and nut farm in the Sacramento Valley of California; a grain farm in Iowa; a ranch in the Western US ; and crop-livestock operation in  the Everglades, Florida. The cases will be used to illustrate the economic and ecological value of ecosystem service markets for both farmers and government policymakers.

For more information, contact Ariela Summit at: asummit@ecoagriculture.org.

Ecoagriculture Partners consults West African partners

During the Katoomba Group meeting in Ghana from October 6-7 (see In the Scene), Ecoagriculture Partners had the opportunity to host an informal lunch meeting of people interested or already active in ecoagriculture. More than 17 people showed up, from Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Uganda, and elsewhere.  There was strong interest from West African countries to organize ecoagriculture working groups and leadership courses, and to help them come up with agricultural strategies that would also conserve forest and biodiversity, and would be climate-friendly.  A top priority for participants was developing market incentives for ecoagriculture, through Payments for Ecosystem Services, eco-certification, new products, and landscape labeling. Participants also expressed interest in landscape scale design, in terms of the provision of technical support on eco-friendly agricultural practices, and design of agriculture-conservation landscape mosaics.

For more information on the EP West Africa consultation, contact Sara Scherr at sscherr@ecoagriculture.org.

World Wildlife Foundation partnering with Ecoagriculture Partners on climate-food security dialogue

The World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) and Ecoagriculture Partners have begun collaborating on strategies to integrate policies for food security and climate change adaptation/mitigation. The focus of initial work will be on Africa, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation. Activities in 2010 will include a set of policy analyses, an international workshop with innovative leaders to identify options for strategic action priorities, and policy dialogues with leaders in Africa, the U.S. and Europe. 

For more information contact Seth Shames at: sshames@ecoagriculture.org.

Ecoagriculture Partners working with Inter-American Development Bank on climate guidelines

The Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) has invited Ecoagriculture Partners to help them develop climate change guidelines for screening investments in the agriculture and biofuel/biomass sectors in the Latin America and Caribbean region. These guidelines will be designed to help projects seeking IADB funding to measure and manage greenhouse gas emissions and meet a clear minimum standard for climate change performance. Ecoagriculture Partners has begun reviewing synthesizing alternative state-of-the-art approaches.

Millennium Challenge Corporation discusses ecoagriculture

On 14 October, Sara Scherr, President of Ecoagriculture Partners, gave a presentation to the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) in Washington.  MCC is a U.S. foreign aid organization committed to combating poverty through sustainable economic growth.  The presentation defined ecoagriculture and why it is an important concept to incorporate into program development both by MCC and other international actors. Key points included the importance of working at the landscape level, with both numerous organized smallholder farmers and larger agricultural firms, and income opportunities through payments for ecosystem services and international certifications of agricultural commodities. The presentation sparked a lively discussion amongst those in attendance about how to incorporate the ideas of ecoagriculture into the MCC model of international development.


In the Scene

TerrAfrica lanches Country Flagship Programme for Climate Change, Land and Water

To address the climate challenge, TerrAfrica launched the Country Flagship Programme for Climate Change, Land and Water in September of 2009. The programme focuses on scaling up country-level, land-based climate adaptation and mitigation investments, through:

  • Conservation agriculture (such as agroforestry, reduced tillage and integrated nutrient management) that clearly builds resilience to climate risks and accumulates soil and biomass carbon

  • Watershed management (such as community forestry, riverbank stabilization and land use planning)

  • Energy poverty (such as biofuel development, woodlots and siltation control)

The Programme also seeks to contribute to on-the-ground climate adaptation and mitigation benefits including increased soil organic matter, higher yields, diversified livelihoods, more reliable water supplies, increased access to renewable energy resources and higher levels of biodiversity in agricultural landscapes; and knowledge dissemination and capacity building at the country level about climate risk to land and natural resource dependent livelihoods and on the implementation of adaptation and mitigation strategies through SLM approaches. For more information on TerrAfrica and the Country Flagship Programme, see: http://www.terrafrica.org/.

Global dairy sustainability initiative takes action to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions

The Dairy Sustainability Website was launched on 24 September 2009, to share best practices, promote environmentally focused initiatives and improve the overall performance of the dairy sector. It was launched immediately after signing of the Global Dairy Agenda for Action‐‐an industry declaration to reduce carbon emissions as part of their contribution to help address global warming. Seven dairy organizations gathered at the World Dairy Summit in Berlin pledged their commitment to addressing climate change.

The site hosts information about more than 260 initiatives from different areas of the world, with examples of how the industry is taking action on: emissions reductions, energy efficiency, transport efficiency, reduction in loss of milk, resource efficiency, and life cycle analysis and management. For more information, visit www.dairy-sustainability-initiative.org.

Katoomba Group meeting focuses on integrated solutions for water, biodiversity, and terrestrial carbon in West Africa

The Katoomba Group convened its fifteenth meeting on integrated solutions for water, biodiversity, and terrestrial carbon in West Africa in Accra, Ghana from 6-7 October 2009. Discussion focused around Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Resource Degradation (REDD), soil carbon and other terrestrial carbon options, payments for biodiversity, and marine and coastal ecosystem services.

A number of sessions were of particular interest for ecoagriculture, including one on landscape-scale carbon projects chaired by Odigha Odigha, a Board Member of Ecoagriculture Partners. Speakers were: Musah Abu-Juam working with the Global Environment Facility and TerrAfrica,  Joerg Seifert-Granzin with the Fundacion Amigos de la Naturaleza (FAN) in Bolivia, and Sara Scherr of Ecoagriculture Partners. Frank Hicks (former Fellow of Ecoagriculture Partners) moderated a session on cocoa and carbon sequestration, where Jim Gockowski of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) presented data on trade-offs between shade and cocoa yields, and a representative from Cadbury Chocolates spoke about a new partnership program with farmers Ghana that will include a carbon payment activity.  Michael Coren of Climate Focus presented their work with Forest Trends and EP on the African Agricultural Carbon Facility.

Liyel Imoke, the Honorable Governor of Cross Rivers State, Nigeria, together with State Forestry Advisor Odigha Odigha, and the State Directors of Agriculture, Environment and Finance, updated participants on new land management policies in the State, including REDD. For more details, see: http://ecosystemmarketplace.com/pages/article.news.php?component_id=7097&component_version_id=10854&language_id=12.

FAO hosts World Summit on Food Security in Rome

World leaders met at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters in Rome for the World Summit on Food Security from 16-18 November 2009. Participants unanimously adopted a declaration pledging renewed commitment to eradicate hunger from the face of the earth sustainably and at the earliest date. 

Countries also agreed to work to reverse the decline in domestic and international funding for agriculture and promote new investment in the sector, to improve governance of global food issues in partnership with relevant stakeholders from the public and private sector, and to proactively face the challenges of climate change to food security.For more information see: http://www.fao.org/wsfs/wsfs-meetings/wsfs-privatesector/en/.

South African workshop focuses on scientific approaches towards mainstreaming biodiversity in production landscapes

 On 13 October 2009, the Centre for Environmental Studies (CFES) at the University of Pretoria conducted a workshop in Cape Town, South Africa, on “Scientific Approaches towards mainstreaming Biodiversity in Production Landscapes”. The workshop was hosted on the premises of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, and facilitated by CIRAD, the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development, with funding from the French Embassy in South Africa. 

The day-long meeting gathered more than 65 people from academic institutions, government departments, NGOs and other organizations to discuss key scientific approaches leading to improved enhancement of biodiversity in rural development. The following topics were addressed: landscape labeling, environmental audit, integration of conservation and development, biodiversity and territory, biodiversity mainstreaming in the grasslands biome of South Africa, community based conservation, and probably for the first time in South Africa – ecoagriculture, through a live video-conference from Washington DC by Sara Scherr of Ecoagriculture Partners. Participants expressed interest and confirmed their willingness to pursue actions in common. CFES will look into other means of enhancing biodiversity, especially in small-scale farming landscapes.

Presentations from the workshop are available on-line at: http://www.up.ac.za/centre-environmental-studies/cape_town_meeting.html. For more information, please contact Emmanuel Torquebiau at etorquebiau@zoology.up.ac.za.

The Earth Institute at Columbia University organizes symposium on metrics for assessing global agriculture

On 1 October, 2009 over 140 people gathered at Columbia University in New York City to discuss how to meet the food demands of the global population while also considering social, environmental, and economic outcomes. The symposium gathered participants from a broad range of disciplines and academic institutions, including Cornell University, UC Davis, Princeton University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Minnesota; NGOs, such as Ecoagriculture Partners,  Concern International, the Millennium Institute, and the Wildlife Conservation Society; international organizations, including the World Bank and the World Food Programme; and private sector companies, such as Deutsche Bank, Monsanto, Nestle, PepsiCo, Unilever,  and Yara International.

The symposium was organized around the following sessions:

  • Session I: Nutrient Sources for Agriculture: Where Will They Come From to Feed Nine Billion by 2050?
  • Session II:  Providing More than Food From Agricultural Landscape
  •  Session III: Genetic Engineering for Sustainable Agriculture: Potential and Risks

Sara Scherr of Ecoagriculture Partners spoke in a panel in session II. For more information, see the agenda and panelist biographies at: http://tropag.ei.columbia.edu/?id=global_agriculture.

The Committee on Sustainability Assessment plans for global database on sustainability

The Committee on Sustainability Assessment (COSA) is a project of the Sustainable Commodity Initiative (SCI) that has overseen the development of an independent measurement tool that analyses the social, environmental and economic impacts associated with the implementation of specific sustainability practices and programs.

COSA and the UN's International Trade Centre (ITC) are moving forward on the partnership that will result in the first global database on sustainability. It will offer users the ability to form their own queries about the effects of participating in sustainability programs based on the actual results of farmers. Users will find answers to questions about the effects of sustainability on: yields, biodiversity, costs of production, health, labor practices, education, market access, and risk management. Users will also be able to filter queries by a variety of variables such as country, farm size, certification type and gender. For more information see: http://www.sustainablecommodities.org/node/127.

African Union's New Partnership for Africa's Development and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa join forces to boost food security in Africa

On 9 November 2009, the African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) announced the launch of a new partnership to achieve food security in Africa.  AGRA and NEPAD are two leading African agricultural development initiatives.

According to Mr Kofi Annan, Chairman of AGRA and former Secretary-General of the United Nations, “This partnership will enable African countries to close the gap between intention and action on behalf of smallholder farmers. NEPAD has mobilized public support among African governments to prioritize and invest in agriculture.  AGRA develops and disseminates the technologies farmers need; bolsters policy reform; builds markets and involves the private sector.  Our combined efforts will be a strong force for change across Africa.” For the full press release, see: http://www.agra-alliance.org/content/news/detail/1062.

The United Nation Foundation convenes conference on agriculture, climate change, and the environment in Washington DC

From October 27-28, 2009, the United Nations Foundations convened a meeting in Washington DC entitled “Solutions from the Land Dialogue.” The meeting drew together a range of participants from non-profit organizations, academia, and government. Objectives of the meeting were to forge consensus on fundamental elements of a roadmap for integrated solutions from agriculture, forestry, and conservation to address climate change, food security, economic development, and ecosystem health; investigate building a global alliance of stakeholders around sustainable agriculture, forestry, and conservation solutions from the land; and identify possible leaders and initiatives for subsequent work.

Speakers from the Wednesday morning session included Robert Thompson from the University of Illinois, Kirk Hamilton from the World Bank, and Anthony Janetos from Pacific Northwest National Lab, who laid out the challenges for agriculture and climate change.  Jason Clay from the World Wildlife Fund spoke on a new paradigm for solutions from the land, including creating carbon neutral supply chains in agricultural production. Participants then split into breakout sessions, to discuss guidelines for agriculture and climate that may be integrated into a set of recommendation to be submitted at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate this December. For more information see: http://www.unfoundation.org/.



Convention on Biological Diversity releases report connecting biodiversity and climate change mitigation and adaptation

The report of the Second Meeting of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Biodiversity and Climate Change has been published as CBD Technical Series No.41: Connecting Biodiversity and Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation – Report of the Second Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Biodiversity and Climate Change.

The report is the outcome of scientific and technical deliberations conducted by experts from 23 countries, as well as United Nations organizations, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, and representatives from indigenous communities. The main messages of the report focus on: 1) impacts of climate change on biodiversity; 2) the role of biodiversity in climate change adaptation; 3) links between biodiversity conservation and sustainable use and climate change mitigation; and 4) ways and means to value biodiversity with regard to climate change responses.

The publication is available at: https://www.cbd.int/doc/publications/cbd-ts-41-en.pdf.

US-based Environmental Working Group report argues that climate change poses far greater threat to farmers than climate legislation

The Environmental Working Group, based in the US, just released a new report, entitled “Crying Wolf: Climate Change Far Greater Threat to Farmers than Climate Legislation.” The report has arisen in response to claims by farm industry leaders and their supporters in Congress that the House-passed bill, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), will cause ruinous increases in the costs of production for farmers. A more careful examination of the facts shows that climate change itself, not climate legislation, is the real threat to American agriculture, and that climate-induced crop losses will cost US taxpayers and farmers far more than could ever be caused by the ACES bill.

For more information view the executive summary and report at: http://www.ewg.org/2009/crying-wolf-report.

New book explores how conservationists can incorporate human rights into natural resource management

“Rights-based approaches: Exploring issues and opportunities for conservation” is a collection of case studies, policy reviews and issue papers published by the Center for International Forestry Research and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Editors Jessica Campese, Terry Sunderland, Thomas Greiber and Gonzalo Oviedo have brought together original research that shows how adopting rights-based approaches to conservation can provide benefits both for nature and for the people who live and work in environmentally sensitive areas.

Among the chapters in the book is a an exploration of how proposals to develop mechanisms for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation can affect human rights. The authors aim to demonstrate that, despite all the challenges, rights-based approaches are making a difference in conservation policy.

The book is available at: http://www.cifor.cgiar.org/publications/pdf_files/books/BSunderland0901.pdf.

The International Food Policy Research Institute releases report on climate change impacts on agriculture

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has released a major study entitled “Climate Change: Impact on Agriculture and Costs of Adaptation.” The main messages from the study include: 

  • Unchecked climate change will have major negative effects on agricultural productivity, with South Asia particularly hard hit
  • There will be 20% more malnourished children in 2050 than if climate change had not occured
  • US$7 billion a year are necessary to improve agricultural productivity, irrigation efficiency, and rural roads to prevent these adverse effects.
  • For Sub-Saharan Africa, the largest need is for rural roads, for South and East Asia it is irrigation efficiency, and for Latin America it is a combination of roads and improved crops.

In light of the UNFCCC meetings in Copenhagen, this report will help negotiators and policymakers understand the impacts of climate change on agriculture and what it will cost to avert the worst of them. To see the study, visit: http://www.ifpri.org/publication/climate-change-impact-agriculture-and-costs-adaptation.

The World Resources Institute launches Ecosystem Services experts directory

The World Resources Institute (WRI) and other leading international environmental organizations have recently launched the Ecosystem Services Experts Directory, a public online directory that allows business leaders, governments, and journalists to locate and contact specialists in ecosystem services.  The directory enables users to search for country-specific experts in a wide range of ecosystem disciplines. It includes hundreds of expert profiles from environmental organizations around the world, including the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Ecological Society of America, and the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment’s Sub-Global Working Groups. The project is a joint venture between WRI, IUCN, The World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and Earthwatch Institute.

Visit the directory at http://projects.wri.org/ecosystems/experts.

FAO publishes "The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2009: Economic crises - impacts and lessons learned"

"The State of Food Security in the World 2009" is the Food and Agriculture’s tenth progress report on world hunger since the 1996 World Food Summit. This report highlights the fact that, even before the food crisis and the economic crisis, the number of hungry people had been increasing slowly but steadily. With the onset of these two events, the number of hungry people in the world increased sharply. As a result of the global economic crisis, developing countries are facing deadlines in remittances, export earnings, foreign direct investment and foreign aid, leading to loss of employment and income. This loss of income was compounded by food prices that remain relatively high in the local markets of many poor countries. As a result, poor households have been forced to eat fewer meals, and less nutritious food, cut back on health and education expenses and sell their assets.

To download the full report see: ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/012/i0876e/i0876e.pdf.

Paper explores restoring Japanese paddy wetlands for bird conservation

This paper by Masayuki Kurechi takes a 100-year perspective in discussing enhancements of rice paddy value as a way of restoring wetland habitat, bird populations, and sustainable communities in Japan. Over the past century, 61% of Japan’s wetlands have been lost, in part due to a trend toward keeping rice paddies dry in the winter, which has adversely affected many wetland species. The paper presents the case of the Ramar site “Kabukuri-numa and the surrounding rice paddies” where the restoration of some of the paddies back to wetland, and winter flooding of those still under cultivation has provided a habitat for over-wintering geese.

To download the full paper see: http://www.ecoagriculture.org/documents/files/Restore_RP_Kabukurinuma.pdf

STEPS center creates biotechnology newsletter

The STEPS Centre is a new interdisciplinary global research and policy engagement hub, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. In this newsletter issue on biotechnology, they explore the impact of genetically modified crops on agricultural production and poverty including institutional, regulatory and wider policy issues. The biotechnology research archive has a wide array of resources on the subject, spanning more than a decade of work from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe. The archive is organized into four themes:

1) Poverty reduction & food security: impacts of GM crops
2) Regulating GM crops
3) The role of the private sector and corporate control
4) Public participation and the politics of policy

To see the full newsletter visit: http://www.steps-centre.org/ourresearch/gm.html.

The UNCCD releases discussion paper on policy options to respond to land degradation

This paper suggests innovative ideas to be considered at the ninth session of the Conference of Parties (COP9) of the UNCCD, which was recently held in Buenos Aires, Argentina  from 21 September-2 October 2009. The paper, entitled “Revitalizing the UNCCD,”  is the result of a collaborative effort by a group of experts with extensive experience in the field including Zafar Adeel, David Dent, Philip Dobie, Christian Mersmann, Maryam Niamir-Fuller, Simone Quatrini, and Youba Sokona.

The policy oriented discussion paper emphasizes these points, among others:

  1.  Land degradation is a problem of global dimensions, and originates from a variety of causes, including unsustainable production and consumption practices taking place beyond drylands
  2. More rigorous biophysical and socio-economic scientific arguments are needed to better appreciate the issues and options at stake and substantiate decision-making;
  3. The value of land, in particular, and its role in securing local and global common goods and services should be properly assessed in light of increasing demographic and economic pressures on this finite resource;
  4. Specific measures can be put in place to generate adequate incentives for sustainable use of natural resources and open up innovative financial opportunities for sustainable land management investments, such as market-based mechanisms to compensate for ecosystem goods and services; and
  5. Development aid should support the creation of a conducive environment for responsible private investment, for example by facilitating the transfer of technologies and strengthening relevant policy, institutional and regulatory frameworks.

To download the paper, visit: http://news.global-mechanism.org/u/nrd.php?p=tbX6ZztSYF_2652_154416_277_27.

Natural Value Initiative launches investor-focused toolkit on biodiversity and ecosystem services

The Natural Value Initiative (NVI) has launched an investor focused toolkit which focuses exclusively on the impacts and dependence of companies on biodiversity and ecosystem services. The degradation of ecosystem services such as freshwater provision, climate regulation and soil fertility clearly has implications for the long-term viability of the businesses dependent on them, in particular those with agricultural supply chains. Designed to evaluate investment risk and opportunity associated with biodiversity and ecosystem services impacts and dependence in the food, beverage and tobacco sector, the toolkit offers investors unprecedented access to information on corporate risk management. A guidance document to the toolkit is available at: http://www.naturalvalueinitiative.org/download/documents/Publications/EcoSysBenchmark.pdf.

NVI is a program of Fauna & Flora International, the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative, and the Brazilian business school Fundação Getulio Vargas. For more information on NVI see: http://www.naturalvalueinitiative.org/.

FAO report expands on food security and agricultural mitigation in developing countries

This new publication on climate change from the Food an Agriculture Organization explores potential synergies between food security, adaptation and climate change mitigation from land-based agricultural practices in developing countries, which could help to generate the multiple benefits needed to address the multiple demands placed on agriculture. It indicates promising mitigation options with synergies, options that involve trade-offs, possible options for required financing, and possible elements in designing country implementation processes.

To capture the multiple benefits of agriculture, the report recommends a work programme on agricultural mitigation within the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice to help address methodological issues related to implementation. It also proposes country-led piloting of action and field testing, using a phased approach linked to national capabilities and supported by capacity building and financial/technology transfers

For more information and to download the paper, see: http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/36894/icode/.

Global Food for Thought announces new website

The Chicago Council’s on Global Affairs recently launched a new website and blog to provide a central point for information and analysis on global agricultural development and related issues.  The website and blog are designed to complement the weekly news brief, Global Food for Thought, by offering an expanded selection of resources to those working in the international agriculture and food sectors.  Both are part of the Global Agricultural Development Initiative, an effort cochaired by Catherine Bertini, former Executive Director of the UN World Food Program, and Dan Glickman, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Key sections of the new website include:

  • a Global Food for Thought blog provides a forum for expert commentary, debate, and updates on key developments in international agriculture and development issues, posted in real time;

  • an Ag & Food Policy Library offers summaries of and links to official documents and statements on U.S., international, and private sector agriculture and food policy; and

  • an Events Calendar catalogues agendas, background information, and transcripts of key national and international events affecting the agriculture and food sectors;

To view the website see: www.thechicagocouncil.org/globalagdevelopment.


Call for Papers, Partners, and Proposals

Fellowships in sustainability science available at Harvard University's Center for International Development

The Sustainability Science Program at Harvard University's Center for International Development is inviting applications for resident fellowships in sustainability science for the University's academic year beginning in September 2010. The fellowship competition is open to advanced doctoral and post-doctoral students, and to mid-career professionals engaged in research or practice to facilitate the design, implementation, and evaluation of effective interventions that promote sustainable development. Applicants should describe how their work would contribute to "sustainability science," the emerging field of use-inspired research seeking understanding of the interactions between human and environmental systems as well as the application of such knowledge to sustainability challenges relating to advancing development of agriculture, habitation, energy and materials, health and water while conserving the earth's life support systems.

This year the program will give preference to applicants who address the challenges related to meeting human needs for water or food, agriculture and land use in the context of sustainable development. Applications are due December 1, 2009.   For more information on the fellowships application process see: http://www.cid.harvard.edu/sustsci/fellowship.

The International Journal of Biodiversity and Conservation: Call for papers

The International Journal of Biodiversity and Conservation (IJBC) publishes articles relating to sustainable development, human dependence on biodiversity in agriculture, environmental management and biotechnology. They are seeking articles which meet the general criteria of significance and scientific excellence, and will publish original articles in basic and applied research, case studies, and critical reviews, surveys, opinions, commentaries and essays
Following acceptance, a paper will normally be published in the next issue. IJBC is fully committed to the Open Access Initiative and will provide free access to all articles as soon as they are published. Instruction for authors and other details are available on the website at: http://www.academicjournals.org/IJBC/Instruction.htm.

Fellowships to support doctoral and post-doctoral research in ecosystem services, carbon monitoring, and climate change

As part of its commitment to advancing conservation through science, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) established Kathryn Fuller Fellowships to support PhD students and postdoctoral researchers working on issues of exceptional importance and relevance to conservation in WWF-US priority places.  This year, the Kathryn Fuller Science for Nature Fund will support doctoral and postdoctoral research in the following three areas.

  • ecosystem services
  • measuring and monitoring carbon stocks in forests
  • climate change impacts on and adaptation of freshwater resources

Applicants for Fuller Doctoral Fellowships must be currently enrolled in a PhD program. WWF staff, directors, and their relatives as well as current Russell E. Train Fellows are ineligible to receive Fuller Fellowships. The deadline for application is January 31, 2010.
For more information on complete eligibility requirements, selection criteria, and how to apply, please visit the Fuller Fellowship webpage at http://www.worldwildlife.org/science/fellowships/fuller/item1296.html

The Committee on Sustainability Assessment seeks senior research partners

The Committee on Sustainability Assessment (COSA) is a project of the Sustainable Commodity Initiative (SCI) that has overseen the development of an independent measurement tool that analyses the social, environmental and economic impacts associated with the implementation of specific sustainability practices and programs.

As the demand for COSA research grows across countries, COSA is seeking research partners for field level research and also for statistical analysis.  If you are an experienced researcher with a strong interest in impact assessment of sustainability standards, please contact COSA’s Research Director. In addition to working with world renowned experts, COSA wants to continue an open door policy with leading think tanks and research institutions to help formulate state of the art multi-criteria analysis approaches.

For more information see: www.sustainablecommodities.org/cosa/update.

The Biodiversity and Agricultural Commodities Program welcoming proposals for grant applications from the soy industry

The expansion of agriculture is the leading cause of habitat destruction and a major threat to global biodiversity. The Biodiversity and Agricultural Commodities Program (BACP) seeks to reduce these threats by leveraging market forces at all levels of the value chain. This will help to mainstream the use of so-called Better Management Practices that decrease the impact of production on biodiversity. The BACP works in partnership with major players in four commodity markets who are willing to adopt more sustainable practices. The commodities concerned are palm oil, cocoa, sugarcane and soybeans, which today cover approximately 132 million hectares globally. Initially, BACP is working in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brazil, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, which are major producers and exporters of these commodities, with projects in other countries anticipated in the future.

The BACP is still welcoming proposals for biodiversity-friendly soybean production and markets, under RFA 2009-1/Soy.  The deadline for submission of Round 2 proposals is December 1, 2009. For more information and application instruction see: http://www.ifc.org/ifcext/sustainability.nsf/Content/Biodiversity_BACP.

Agropolis Fondation launches the Louis MALASSIS International Scientific Prize for Agriculture and Food

 The Louis MALASSIS International Scientific Prize for Agriculture and Food aims to recognize individuals, or a group of individuals, for their exemplary and promising contribution in promoting innovation through research, development and capacity building in the North, South or in the Mediterranean in order to improve food and agricultural systems sustainability as well as contribute to addressing food security and poverty reduction.

The prize consists of two categories. The Louis Malassis Distinguished Scientist Prize is conferred to an outstanding scientist, or a group of scientists, with a PhD degree, with at least 15 years of professional experience and who has made significant contribution in the field covered by the Prize through his/her (or their collective) work. The Louis Malassis Young Promising Scientist Prize is given to a young individual, or a group of young scientists, who has carried out original and promising work in the field covered by the Prize. The deadline for nominations is 20 January 2010. For more information visit: www.agropolis-fondation.fr/Malassis-Prize.html.

Kinship Conservation Fellowship supports career conservationists

For conservation professionals with at least five years of experience and some familiarity with the way business and economics principles affect the field of conservation, the Kinship fellowship offers a dynamic month-long paid training program in unique solutions to real-world problems. Kinship’s faculty is composed of professionals who bring Fellows’ individual projects to life through case study comparisons, working groups, and mentoring sessions.  The 2010 program will take place from June 22 to July 23 in Bellingham, Washington, and the program is accepting applications for the 2010 cohort through January 18, 2010. 


For more information and the brochure, see: www.kinshipfellows.org.


Upcoming Events

National Seminar on Land Use Planning for Agricultural Development and Establishment of Agro-Economic Zones, 11-12 December, 2009, Lucknow, India

This seminar will focus on proper management of land and resources for sustainable agricultural development in Utthar Pradesh, India. The conference is sponsored by the State Land Use Board, the Department of Planning, the Government of Utthar Pradesh and the Centre for Food and Agribusiness Management at the Indian Institute of Management.

Major objectives are: To review the policies to support the best possible use of the land and the sustainable management of land resources; to arrive at the mechanism to improve and strengthen planning, management and evaluation systems for land and land resources; to analyse the changes in land use pattern and its linkage with agricultural growth and diversification; to explore the possible ways to ensure the active involvement and participation of all the important; stakeholder, particularly communities and people at the local level, in decisions on land use and management; to review the dynamics of land acquisition, sales and lease markets in changing social and economic structure; and to explore the use of innovative technologies in planning and management of land resources.

For more information, see: http://www.iiml.ac.in/LandSeminar.pdf?PHPSESSID=a2980dc054733790ce0db5a51e633bb5.

Conference on Organic Agriculture and the Scope of Environmental Problems, 3-7 February 2010, Famagusta, Cyprus Island, Greece

Non-governmental organizations from various European countries, as well as scientists, researchers, scholars,  and agriculture professionals will gather at this conference to discuss new trends and advances in today's organic agriculture applications and their effects on other environmental sciences. Keynote speakers will be Urs Niggli, Executive Director of the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) in Switzerland; Timothy J. LaSalle, CEO of the Rodale Institute, and Christopher Stopes BSc, MSc Director of EcoS Consultancy Ltd.

The conference is organized by EMCC Institute (an EU-supported network led by active scientists from different countries). Best presentation and best poster will be awarded, and there is a special incentive for young researchers.  For more information see: http://organic.emccinstitute.org/.

Agriculture 2.0 conference, 24 March 2010, Palo Alto, California, USA

Agriculture 2.0 Silicon Valley, co-hosted by NewSeed Advisors, US Venture Partners, and SPIN Farming, will bring together hundreds of entrepreneurs, investors, farmers, industry experts, and journalists, all united by the common goal of driving the growth of sustainable agriculture and healthful food systems. The one-day conference will address topics including: What’s happening on the farms? Can traditional venture capital invest in agriculture? What comes after organic?  A special Aquaculture track, sponsored by Aquacopia, will highlight investment opportunities and the future of fish farming. Live demonstrations of new agriculture technology and company presentations will create a dynamic, interactive event. Please check the website for program and speaker updates: http://www.newseedadvisors.com/

Land Reform and Management of Natural Resources in Africa and Latin America, 25-27 November 2010, Cataluņa, Spain

This conference will explore land ownership and resource management in Latin America and Africa, taking a long range view of development policies in both countries. The conference is being organized by the Cooperative Center for Rural Development and the Interdisciplinary Group for Development and Multicultural Studies at the University of Lleida, Spain. For more information see: http://www.congresreformasagrarias.org/.

The newsletter was compiled by Ecoagriculture Partners. For more information, please contact info@ecoagriculture.org. Information about Ecoagriculture Partners and related employment opportunities can be found at www.ecoagriculture.org.