The International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) released its report on the state of global agriculture on 15 April 2008. This report is the result of three years of cooperation between nearly 400 scientists, the governments of developed and developing countries, and representatives of civil society and the private sector. They considered such major issues as biofuels, genetically modified crops, use of traditional knowledge, and the impact of climate change.
The report underlines the pressing need to transform the strategies of modern agriculture to address current and anticipated social, economic and environmental challenges. I encourage all of you in the Ecoagriculture community of practice to take a look at this report, which proposes a broader framing of agricultural science and technology than has characterized this work in the past. The scientific challenges of ecoagriculture landscapes providing food, ecosystem services and livelihoods is specifically is addressed in many of the chapters and sub-reports, and to some extent in the main report. A next step, which EP hopes to take with partners over the next few years, is to define and mobilize in more detail the science and technology research agenda needed to support ecoagriculture.
Some of the lead authors conclude in an overview article in the journal Science: “The assessment’s message is clear: Innovation is more than invention. Success is not based on technological performance in isolation, but rather how technology builds knowledge, networks, and capacity. Simply put, plant breeding and natural resource management practices are very “blunt tools for social change” … innovation demands sophisticated integration with local partners” (p. 121). We hope that scientists, farmers, agriculture and conservation practitioners around the world will heed that message and work more strategically together to develop new approaches to science and technology.
The Landscape Measures Initiative (LMI) is one of Ecoagriculture Partner’s flagship programs aimed at assessing, planning and tracking multistakeholder landscape initiatives. The Landscape Measures Resource Center (LMRC) is a project of the LMI drawing on methods and resources from many organizations. An online resource, it functions as a clearinghouse for information and tools for landscape managers, researchers, and those involved in the rural development field. The LMRC is organized around six units that frame a process for assessing the performance of integrated conservation and production landscapes;
Unit 1: defining the approach
Unit 2:engaging stakeholders
Unit 3: Creating performance goals and criteria
Unit 4: Choosing indicators
Unit 5: Establishing a baseline
Unit 6: Tracking change
The LMRC links elements of the landscape assessment process to a variety of tools and resources that enable the practice of landscape measurement. Case studies illustrate the contexts in which LMRC may be a helpful resource. A glossary of key terms is also provided. The LMRC has been designed as an interactive tool – users encouraged to give feedback and can participate through an online discussion forum.
If you are interested in testing out the LMRC in your own landscape, or helping us build and improve the site, please contact Louise Buck at email@example.com.
Linking sustainable agriculture to biological corridors: the Nature Conservancy and Ecoagriculture Partners in Costa Rica and Panama
In a new project that was launched this April, Ecoagriculture Partners will provide recommendations to The Nature Conservancy (TNC) regarding how it can engage farmers to promote sustainable agricultural practice linked to the creation of biological corridors on both sides of the bi-national La Amistad National Park. On the Pacific side, efforts will focus primarily on coffee, and on the Atlantic side they will center around cocoa. As part of the ‘sustainable harvests’ pillar of TNC’s new strategic priorities, the project contributes to a larger effort focusing on conservation in production landscapes.
Ecoagriculture Partners evaluates biofuel opportunities from a landscape perspective
Ecoagriculture Partners has been actively engaging with the issue of biofuels from a landscape scale perspective over the course of the last year. In April of 2007, we participated in the first FAO Technical Consultation on Bioenergy and Food Security, from which was born the first draft of the paper on biofuels which is now being published by the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability. Ecoagriculture Partners has also initiated a series of conversations with IUCN regarding their strategy on biofuels, and also attended the Ecological Society of America meeting last August at which biofuels was a key topic.
Most Recently, Ecoagriculture Partners is pleased to announce the release of a new policy brief titled "Evaluating biofuel opportunities from a landscape perspective" in its new Ecoagriculture Policy Focus series of briefs. The brief identifies three systems of biofuel production from a landscape perspective. In each system lays out opportunities and risks for biodiversity conservation, rural livelihoods and farm production. Six principles are provided to guide sustainable landscape management for biofuel production and four areas of policy development are discussed.
This brief is based on Milder, J.C., J.A. McNeely, S. Shames, and S.J. Scherr. 2008. Biofuels and ecoagriculture: can bioenergy production enhance landscape-scale ecosystem conservation and rural livelihoods? International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability 6 (2): in press.
Ecoagriculture Partners bids goodbye to Jennifer Nelson, Communications and Outreach Manager
Ecoagriculture Partners announces that Jenny Nelson, our Director of Communications and Outreach, will be leaving EP to take up a position at Cornell University in the International Programs department of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, where she’ll also pursue her graduate degree. Jenny
says: “It has been a wonderful year and a half working with Ecoagriculture Partners. I’ve learned so much and had countless amazing interactions with so many of you. I am going to miss the daily excitement of being part of such a dynamic, creative and supportive team, but I will always be a friend of EP. I’ll even get to join the Cornell Ecoagriculture Working Group in my new post. Thank you to everyone for this terrific experience!”
EP welcomes new colleague to coordinate our work on Payments for Ecosystem Services
Ecoagriculture Partners is excited to announce that Dr. Jorge Rubiano will be joining our team part time to coordiante our work on Payments for Ecosystem Services in agricultural landscapes. Dr. Rubiano will be working with Thomas Oberthur and Sara Scherr, and will be based in Colombia. Prior to joining EP, Dr. Rubiano worked on the Engineering Faculty at Colombian National University teaching GIS skills and natural resource water management. He has also worked with the land use program at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), and as a consultant for CIAT and other organizations. He received his doctorate from the University of Nottingham in landscape ecology and stakeholder analysis, and his MS in geography at King’s College, London.
Ecoagriculture Partners participates in planning sessions for New Business Models for Sustainable Trading Relationships Project, UK
This project meeting marked the start of a new initiative, funded by the Gates Foundation and led by the Rainforest Alliance, to develope and implement business models for small farmers to participate in durable trading relationships and improve livelihoods. The objectives of these new business models are to better balance risk, responsibilities, and benefits along a supply chain while improving the quality of production and the security of long-term supply. The meeting brought together the project implementers (the Sustainability Institute, Catholic Relief Services, CIAT, Counterpart International, EP, Rainforest Alliance, and IIED) with their industry partners (ACOS, Homegrown, Flamingo, Kraft, Chiquita, Hershey-Scharffen Berger) along with experts from other organizations (including Sustainable Tree Crop Program, Unilever, Chris Anstey, Ltd and Agro Fair).
The second Leadership Course for Ecoagriculture in East Africa was held from 15-22 April 2008 at the Nile Resort Hotel in Jinja, Uganda with a one-day field trip in the Kayunga landscape. The course was an intensive six days designed for practitioners and professionals from the agricultural, conservation, community development and planning sectors in Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda and Madagascar. The course prepared 34 participants from these countries to effectively design, lead and manage cross-sectoral, participatory initiatives that jointly achieve agricultural development and biodiversity conservation. The 23 men and 11 women participants were from government institutions (natural resource management and agriculture), non-governmental organizations and farmer groups as well as academic institutions. Course graduates will join a cross-sectoral network of committed ecoagriculture leaders who share common understanding of issues, enhanced capabilities in the technical aspects of ecoagriculture systems, and strengthened confidence and skills to influence and motivate others at field, program and policy levels. The course was organized jointly by Ecoagriculture Partners, the University of California-Berkeley Center for Sustainable Resource Development and the Environment Conservation Trust of Uganda (ECOTRUST) and the Ecoagriculture Working Groups and Uganda and Kenya
Launch of the Tierras Adjuntas Model Forest, Puerto Rico
A series of events were held in from April 21-25 2008 in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico, to commemorate the launch of the Tierras Adjuntas Model Forest, and its entry into the Ibero-American Model Forest network. The program was hosted by Casa Pueblo, a community-based organization established to support the people of Adjuntas lead their own development process. Events included a one-day program on Earth Day, 22 April, with presentations from the Directors of Casa Pueblo, and representatives of the Ibero-American Model Forest Network, Puerto Rico's Department for Natural Resources and Ecoagriculture Partners. This was followed by two roundtables between representatives of the Department for Natural Resources, local farmers and other key community stakeholders on the need for local farmers to be recognized for their role in local conservation strategies, as well as the need for secure land rights for farmers located in the biological corridor linking the community-managed forests of Tierras Adjuntas and Bosque Olimpia.
Other key events included a press conference; a one-day event where students supported a local farmer to develop a 'model farm' in the community, and the launch of Radio Casa Pueblo 1020 AM, the first community-radio in Puerto Rico.
Talamanca learning exchange and leadership course, Talamanca, Costa Rica
Asociacion ANAI facilitated a binational learning exchange, 'Leadership for Sustainable Community Development' from 21-28 April 2008 in Talamanca, Costa Rica. The exchange aimed to catalyze learning and the sharing of experiences between representatives of smallholder agricultural communities from the Talamanca region of Costa Rica, and the neighboring region of Bocas del Toro, Panama. The seven day course focused on strengthening leadership skills and capacity in community-led, sustainable rural development strategies. Modules, conducted through 'learning-by-doing', on-site approaches, encompassed on farm- and landscape-level management strategies to achieve joint food security and environmental conservation goals; community-led biomonitoring techniques; agro- ecotourism development; strategies to support market development and access; leadership and communication skills.
The course formed part of initial activities to develop a collaborative Community Knowledge Service process within Central America. Next steps include follow-up with course participants to take forward action plans outlined during the workshop, and resource mobilization to host a second, regionally-focused learning exchange later in 2008. For further details, please contact Benson Venegas, ANAI (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Claire Rhodes, Ecoagriculture Partners (email@example.com).
Green Infrastructure Community of Practice event, Washington DC, USA
On 25 April 2008 the US Forest Service organized an event to support the development of the Green Infrastructure Community of Practice (CoP), a growing network of federal, state and local government agencies and non-profit organizations working together to improve conservation planning techniques that support healthier ecosystems and communities. The meeting was built on the legacy of the 2005 “linking lands for nature and people” roundtable which identified five organizational interests: conservation lands, health and recreation, livable communities, working lands and water resources, as well as five “whys” for linking lands: ecological imperatives, human health and safety, economic efficiency and sustainability, stewardship ethic and community livability, and planning and coordination.
At the April meeting, government, state, and non-governmental agencies gave a quick summary of green infrastructure activities and then discussed practical next steps and action items including sharing contacts and databases, holding a workshop for partners in the CoP, identifying key projects, and creating a national GIS map as well as a national conference.
UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) 16: Focus on Agriculture & Environment
The 16th meeting of the CSD began on May 5, 2008 in at the United Nations in New York City, and will wrap up today on the 16th of May. As it is a review year, the sessions focused on the following thematic issues:
The broad theme for the meeting was agriculture and the environment, with numerous side events relevant to Ecoagriculture supporters. For a full listing of panels, please see http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/csd/review.htm. Sara Scherr of EP participated in a panel on ‘Drought and Desertification’ on 8 May, as well as in a UNEP-organized side event titled “Life in the Balance: Food security and environment in a changing landscape” on May 15th. Achim Steiner, Director-General of UNEP who gave the keynote address for the latter event, emphasized the importance of seeing farmers not only as ‘market-driven producers’ but also ‘ecosystem managers.’ Steiner also highlighted the need to address the current global food crisis not only with short-term solutions, but long-term solutions that address agriculture-environment challenges.
A partnership fair was held for the duration of the conference, in which 22 organizations held training sessions and presented on their work. Seth Shames made a presentation about EP, and Sara Scherr contributed to a panel discussion about lessons learned on developing agriculture-related partnerships. For more information on the partnership fair see: http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/csd/ csd16/documents/ csd16preliminaryprogramme_13May.pdf.
Ecoagriculture Related Events at the 9th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity
The 9th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity is being held in Bonn, Germany from 19-30 May 2008. Issues up for in-depth consideration are agricultural biodiversity, global strategy for plant conservation, invasive alien species, forest biodiversity, incentive measures, ecosystem approaches, progress toward the millennium development goals and financial resources. For complete information on the event, visit http://www.cbd.int/cop9/. There are many side events at the CBD related to Ecoagriculture (for a complete schedule see http://www.cbd.int/cop9/side-events/?mtg=COP-09). Rather than produce an exhaustive list, we have compiled a just a few that Ecoagriculture Partners and close partners have been involved with to get you started:
May 20: “Applying the Ecosystem Approach to the Programme of Work on Agricultural Biodiversity” (Organizers: Ecoagriculture Partners, Bioversity International, World Conservation Union, The Nature Conservancy, United Nation Development Programme, Equator Initiative, International Federation of Agricultural Producers).
May 22: All events relating to Biodiversity and Agriculture Day
May 23: Fair on Experience and Best Practices in Communication, Education, and Public Awareness (CEPA). For more information see: http://www.cbd.int/cop9/fair/.
May 26: “Food Security in an Era of Climate Change: What Can Agricultural Biodiversity contribute and how can it do it? (Organizers: PAR w/ CGIAR, UNEP, and others).
Look for outputs from COP9 on the CBD website at the beginning of June.
Book: Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute releases Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization
Lester Brown, President of the Earth Policy Institute recently released Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization. The book deals with the unfolding food crisis, which it characterizes as trend-driven as opposed to the event-driven food shortages of the past. Brown deals with the topics of failed nation states, global insecurity, a changing landscape of supply and demand and diminishing natural resources. Arguing that business-as-usual is no longer a viable option, Brown proposes a variety of technical, policy related, and national options to address the urgent need for solutions to the food crisis.
Special Issue of Agriculture, Ecosystems, and Environment: Biodiversity in Agricultural Landscapes: Investing without Losing Interest
This issue of Agriculture, Ecosystems, and Environment, guest edited by Louise E. Jackson, Unai Pascual, Lijbert Brussaard, Peter de Ruiter and Kamaljit S. Bawa, is drawn from papers presented at the first Open Science Open Science Conference of DIVERSITAS in Oaxaca, Mexico, from 9-12 November 2005. Several themes are woven through the papers: the loss of agrobiodiversity through agricultural intensification, land-use change and the management of agrobiodiversity on agricultural and non-agricultural land, and payments for ecosystem services and their value to society.
Rodale Institute offers online course on transition to organic agriculture
The Rodale Institute's Organic Transition Course is a 15-hour online program designed to help US farm managers understand the national organic standards and use them as a framework for making the transition to organic production. The course is hosted by the Rodale Institute's farm manager, Jeff Moyer, and covers the fundamental principles of organic agriculture, practical details about organic crop and livestock production, marketing opportunities available to organic producers and recordkeeping. The course can be taken anywhere participants have access to a computer connected to the Internet. There are no set course hours, registration fees or tests to take.
The Rodale Institute works with farmers to provide the know-how, tools and techniques they need to succeed in sustainable agriculture; policy-makers the information they need to best support farmers; and consumers with the resources they need to make informed decisions about the food they buy and eat.
The Alternatives to Slash-and-Burn (ASB) Partnership launches e-newsletter
The Alternatives to Slash and Burn Partnership (ASB) launched a new newsletter in March 2008, which will now come out once every month. The e-bulletin profiles recent news, publications, and events related to partnerships for the tropical forest margins. Recent members of the list-serve may be particularly interested in the debates about REDD – Reduced Emissions from Deforestation in Developing Countries within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Book: Green Infrastructure Linking Landscapes and Communities
In this formulative book published by Island Press in 2006, authors Mark A. Benedict and Edward T. McMahon define Green Infrastructure as an “interconnected network of natural areas and other open spaces that conserves natural ecosystem and functions, sustains clean air and water, and provides a wide array of benefits to people and wildlife. Used in this context, green infrastructure is the ecological framework for environmental, social and economic health – in short, our natural life-support system.” With illustrative and detailed examples drawn from throughout the United States, Green Infrastructure as outlined in this book advances smart land conservation defined by large scale thinking and integrated action to plan, protect and manage our natural and restored lands. Leading experts in the field provide a detailed how-to for planners, designers, landscape architects, and citizen activists
Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research launches website
The new website of the Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research (PAR) will officially go live on Tuesday 27 May 2008. PAR seeks to improve the maintenance and use of agrobiodiversity by synthesizing and sharing existing knowledge, identifying areas where research is needed and stimulating the development of new and innovative research partnerships to address knowledge gaps. The launch will take place during PAR’s informal Stakeholder Consultation at COP9 in Bonn. The meeting will be open to all interested and will start at 9.00 am - Salon Planck Room, Maritim Hotel, Bonn.
PAR would also like to invite all to a COP9 Side Event on Monday May 26 2008 (Haydn Room, Maritim Hotel, Bonn – open to all). The topic will be: "Food security in an era of climate change: What can agricultural biodiversity contribute and how can it do it?"Other sponsors of this side event include Alliance of the CGIAR, UNEP GEF, Ecoagriculture Partners, Tebtebba Foundation and The Christensen Fund.
Bioversity International invites young African scientists to apply for the Abdou-Salam Ouédraogo Fellowship, which offers support for research on conservation and use of forest genetic resources. For full details of the fellowship and how to apply, see http://news.bioversityinternational.org/index.php?itemid. Closing date for applications is 30 May 2008.
The Kasipul Afforestation Programme (KAP) is a registered NGO in Kenya with its operation in Rachuonyo District Nyanza Province and a staff of eight employees. It deals with issues relating to environmental protection, conservation of ecosystems biodiversity, water catchment areas, and sustainable development in the community through the promotion of agroforestry. KAP engages in tree planting through setting up tree nurseries through registered youth and women’s groups as well as individual farmers. They have set up two tree nurseries, each with a capacity of 50,000 seedlings, as well as planning over 10,000 trees in the area. All activities have been personally financed by the head of the organization. KAP is seeking funding to set up 18 more on-farm nurseries with a capacity of 800,000 seedlings to meet the organizational goal of planting three million trees annually on a quarterly basis, and UNEP in the 1 billion tree planting project.
Ecoagriculture Conference: Challenges and opportunities for integrating agricultural production, biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction strategies in East Africa, Nairobi, Kenya, August 25-28 2008
This conference, hosted by Ecoagriculture Partners in conjunction with the Kenya Ecoagriculture Working Group, the Uganda Ecoagriculture Working Group and TerrAfrica, will highlight the visions, innovations, policies and tools needed to respond to the integration of agricultural, environmental and poverty reduction objectives in national development programs. The conference seeks to enhance capacity in these areas at the regional, national and local community landscape levels, and enhance multi-sectoral partnerships, networks and platforms for ecoagriculture.
Markets for ecosystem services in East Africa: opportunities and challenges
Policy and institutional constraints to integration of agricultural production, environmental conservation and poverty reduction in East Africa
Innovative community programs towards sustainable land management
Public-private partnerships and agriculture, environment and rural development
Science, innovation and technologies in the integration of agricultural production, environmental conservation and poverty reduction.
Implementing ecoagriculture in East African landscapes: Lessons Learned
There will also be a special ‘ecoagriculture, community knowledge village’ dedicated to farmers, farmer organizations and community based organizations (CBOs) working in ecoagriculture landscapes in East Africa to showcase their work, share lessons and interact with other stakeholders.
2008 Global Katoomba Meeting: Developing an Infrastructure Fund for the Planet, Washington DC, 9-10 June 2008
The Global Katoomba meeting brings together leading policy makers, major financial institutions, business leaders, the environmental community and local indigenous groups to discuss the current scope and potential of ecosystem markets – carbon, water, biodiversity – to address environmental problems. Climate change, water pollution, and biodiversity loss threatens the natural infrastructure of our planet and human well-being, but the time is ripe for a major event to drive action and bring together these different sectors to develop strategies that will match the scale and urgency of the environmental issues we face today.
The meeting’s schedule includes keynote speeches by leading public and private figure and moderated discussions among a panel of environmental and market experts. During the moderated discussions, panelists will update us on the current state of the ecosystem markets, identify the challenges that must be overcome, and share proven approaches that can be built upon in the future.
Water for Development conference: Prospects for Integrated Water Resources Management, Zurich, Switzerland, 4 June 2008
The North-South Centre of the ETH Zurich promotes research and capacity development in the fields of international development and cooperation. Their annual conference will focus on water for development. Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) is an internationally accepted approach to the sustainable development, allocation and monitoring of water use in the context of social, economic and environmental objectives. It can be achieved by a participatory approach only, involving users, planners and policy makers at all levels. The conference will address the prospects for IWRM to contribute to an equitable and sustainable allocation of water in the development context. In particular, it will highlight the role and contribution of research for development in the water sector.
International EcoHealth Forum 2008: 2nd Biennial Conference of the International Association for Ecology & Health, Merida, Mexico, 1-5 December 2008
Hosted by the National Institute of Public Health (INSP) of México, this conference will focus on renewing and establishing networks to further the capacity of participants to promote healthy ecosystems and, in turn, healthy people. Conference participants – researchers, policy-makers and practitioners – will learn how project outcomes have been used by other policy-makers, stakeholders and community representatives to effect improvements in ecosystem management, disease prevention and environmental protection. Experiences with research and practice, including methodological gaps as well as opportunities for intervention and policy development will be presented. Conference delegates are invited to plan now to contribute with paper, video, other media, and oral presentations to the development of new approaches and ideas in EcoHealth by being active participants in IEF 2008.
The newsletter was compiled by Ecoagriculture Partners. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Information about Ecoagriculture Partners and related employment opportunities can be found at www.ecoagriculture.org.