June 5, 2014

Climate Change: What's at stake for Smallholder Farmers?

From June 4-15, the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change meetings are taking place in Bonn, Germany to address the ongoing climate change crisis. While these negotiations will focus on governments and international treaties, Dr. Celia Harvey of Conservation International reminds us that smallholder farmers are perhaps the most vital stakeholders for addressing climate change. As producers of 80% of the world’s consumed food, these farmers depend on healthy and stable environments to feed the vast majority of the human population. In her blog post Small Farms, Large Stakes: Climate Change and Smallholder Farmers, Dr. Harvey explains how ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) strategies could be the key to making farms in the Global South prosper in the face of climate change:

Climate change impacts are already being felt by smallholder farmers worldwide. With rising temperatures and more erratic rainfall, many crops are failing, pest and disease outbreaks are becoming more common and destructive, and many traditional farming systems are no longer viable…

…There is an urgent need to identify how we can help smallholder farmers adapt to climate change, both at the local level and on the international stage. One potential means of helping them do so is the use of ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA). This refers to the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services (such as pollination, nutrient cycling and freshwater provision) as part of a strategy to help people adapt to climate change…

…these practices not only help farmers adapt to climate change impacts, they also help ensure the continuous delivery of ecosystem services which underpin agricultural productivity. Many of these practices have the additional benefit of serving as an alternative source of income (fruits, timber, firewood, medicine) for farmers. They also are critical for conservation, providing additional habitat for biodiversity and improving the overall connectivity of agricultural landscapes for wildlife movement.

Read the full post for more on EbA and how global conferences like the Bonn meeting can support these efforts.

Photo: Benjamin Drummond
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