Category Archives: [SDG02]

Towards diverse and sustainable governance ? Assessment of biocultural diversity (BCD) in European cities

Today more than half of the global population lives in urban regions and by 2030 the proportion is expected to have increased to 60 % (Elmqvist et al., 2013). To meet the needs of future generation, to support social cohesion within and among different socio-cultural groups, and to enable healthy living environments, cities are the main arena where sustainable solutions have to be developed. Especially urban green spaces (e.g. parks, forests, gardens, meadows, seashores) can support to meet these challenges. Urban green areas have been found to support citizen’s physical and mental wellbeing and social cohesion (Peters et al., 2010; Tzoulas and Green, 2011).

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Agroforestry can form an effective, efficient and fair pathway to achieve food security and agricultural sustainability in Africa

The global environmental and developmental agendas are now converging to address the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. The past three decades
have seen innumerable attempts by governments and societies to intervene within social, economic and environmental dimensions to advance towards sustainable development. These include agreements such as the Agenda 21, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), RIO+20, and soon to be redefined as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs build upon and supplement the MDGs creating what is being termed the post-2015 agenda. The emerging development agenda will greatly depend upon achieving environmentally
sustainability that reinforces the capacity to achieve associated social and economic dimensions.

It is anticipated that many countries will not be able to achieve their economic and social development goals without modifying practices, policies and investments to fully encompass environmental sustainability. Current agricultural practices cause many negative consequences on existing environmental resources. The emerging SDGs seek to increase efficiency in the use of land, water and agricultural inputs to better contribute to environmental goals while bridging the gap between current yields and the projected requirements to feed the world’s growing population.

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Role of Modern Biotechnology in Sustainable Development; Addressing Social-Political Dispute of GMOs that Influences Decision-Making in Developing countries

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) technology has been widely used in agriculture in the last years in several regions, and has diverse potentials in addressing the challenges of sustainable development such as pest and diseases, drought, malnutrition and food insecurity, in developing countries. However, controversies surrounding the possible risks of GM technology have also spread on public concern. Despite potential risks, no reported case has been documented regarding negative impact from GMOs in the country since 1996 when GM crops were first commercialized (James, 2014). This is consistent with a recent study based on 15 years of intense research and risk assessment, that GM crops do not pose greater risks for human health or the environment than traditionally bred varieties (Fagerstrom et al., 2012). Moreover, analyses have shown substantial socio-economic and environmental
benefits of GM crops (Brookes and Barfoot, 2012; James, 2014).

GM technology has yet to make any visible impact on food security almost two decades after the first GMO products were released, partly due to lack of consensus as to how to regulate GMO products and controversy surrounding the adoption of GMOs (Adenle et al., 2013). For example, the genetically modified rice called ‘Golden’ rice, developed 20 years ago, aimed to address the problem of vitamin A deficiency in developing countries including countries in Africa, has suffered another huge setback due to a recent destruction of rice field trials in the Philippines as vandals claimed that the GMOs represent a threat to health and biodiversity.

Social-political dispute between developed nations (e.g., the US and Europe) has influenced the regulation and decision-making on GMO issues in many developing countries. This dispute has spilled over to international regulation of GMOs, with the US aligning its GMO policy with the World Trade Organization (WTO) whilst the EU strictly applies precautionary principle of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) (Dibden et al., 2013).

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How New Metrics for Sustainable Agriculture Can Align the Roles of Government and Business

In three decades the potential for the private sector to make a positive difference in development has garnered increasing credence and support (Schmidheiny 1992; Porter, Ketels,
& Delgado 2007). This aligns with increasing acceptance that being sustainability-oriented can also benefit a firm’s market performance (Eccles et al. 2011). It is clear that the private sector will have to be an important part of any effort to attain the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). It has likewise become clear that for agricultural producers merely participating in markets or trade is not sufficient to ensure poverty reduction and increase sustainability (Hopkins 2007; Jaffee et al. 2011).

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Monitoring the Performance of Agriculture and Food Systems

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), targets,and indicators will define global, national, and local aspirations for improving human well-being. Without clear metrics to measure progress and accurate, consistent, and continuous data collection across both time and space, sustainable development will remain an amorphous goal. Metrics are needed to set baselines against which to measure progress; track and predict socioeconomic, nutritional, and ecological change; understand constraints to sustainable development; work successfully with public, private, and NGO partners; and identify appropriate policy measures.

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Planning and Implementing Action for Sustainable Agriculture

For global agriculture systems to produce enough food to sustainably feed nine or ten billion people by 2050, there will have to be a shift in consumer and producer behavior and a structural change toward more sophisticated technologies, information and knowledge management systems, and policies that promote market-based incentives for growth.

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Transformative changes of agriculture and food systems

It is hard to exaggerate the role that agriculture plays in human development. From providing basic sustenance to employing millions of farmers worldwide, agriculture is a fundamental part of almost all societies and economies. Yet, agricultural systems must adapt, even transform, to meet a growing number of challenges and constraints. This transformation is crucial for achieving many of the post-2015 SDGs.

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Synergies between healthy and sustainable diets

In its efforts to meet greenhouse gas emissions targets, international policy has focused almost exclusively on the energy sector. Yet, as the global population and per capita demand for food both increase, emissions from agricultural sources risk jeopardising the achievement of those climate targets, as they already account for over a quarter of all anthropogenic emissions. The risk is heightened if the increasing demand for food causes further agricultural expansion and land cover change. Furthermore, increasing per capita food consumption, and also the share of livestock products, can have adverse effects on human health. There is accordingly a close interdependence between consumption patterns, human health and the sustainability of the earth system. Well-designed policies targeting the demand for particular foods could simultaneously improve the health of the global population, and restrict greenhouse gas emissions along with the impacts of land cover change. This briefing paper reviews and summarises evidence for this claim, and urges the need for policies that seek to achieve both better human health and environmental sustainability.

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Sustainable Pastoralism for the Post 2015 Agenda

There is increasingly robust scientific evidence to show that pastoralism — extensive livestock production in the rangelands — is one of the most sustainable food systems on the planet. Pastoralism is practiced by between 200 and 500 million people worldwide, encompassing nomadic communities, transhumant herders, agropastoralists and ranchers, many of whom are facing similar challenges in both developed and developing countries.

Pastoral livelihoods, especially in Africa, are portrayed as unproductive and environmentally destructive, leading policy makers and local authorities to inadvertently or sometimes deliberately undermine elements of pastoralism that are known to be vital for sustainability and resilience: for example herd mobility, communal resource management, and adapted local breeds. . Progress in pastoral areas generally falls behind that of other communities, creating poverty and vulnerability that undermine the sustainability of the system. More than two decades of research has provided evidence that pastoralism is economically rational and viable, and is a vital tool for poverty alleviation, and large-scale conservation and ecosystem management. This paper summarizes recent research and scientific analysis to highlight three overlooked facts, three widespread myths, four emerging issues, and a suite of options for a new development paradigm for sustainable pastoralism.

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西南山区农村生物质能有效利用模式及其效益分析——以户用沼气生态庭院模式为例 (Effective use of bio-energy and its benefits in mountainous rural areas in SouthwesternChina : the case of the Biogas Courtyard Model)

This brief is submitted in the Chinese language. The full brief could be accessed through the below link. Your comments could be in either English or Chinese.

摘 要
农村生物质能比较分散、廉价和易得性等特点,决定了其在广大农村地区发展的现实可能性。有效利用生物质能是提 高农民收入、改善农村家庭生产生活条件的重要决策。武隆县生物质资源丰富,以薪材、秸秆服辅以煤炭为主要生活能源,能源利用 效率仅为 8%。为了提高能源利用效率、改善农民生活条件,武隆县启动了户用沼气“一池三改”生态庭院工程,沼气池建设与改厨、 改厕、改圈同步实施。本文通过对武隆县农户的调查和走访,从经济、生态和社会三方面分析户用沼气生态庭院模式对有效利用生物 质能的特点和功能。沼气厌氧发酵池作为整个模式中生物质回归补偿的重要环节,实现了物质能量流从传统生物质利用模式单向线性 向闭合循环的转变。研究结果显示,户用沼气生态庭院模式的内部收益率为 24.8%,大于基础利率 10%,经济效益明显;年平均产沼 量可以替代 3.55t 薪材、4.07t 秸秆和 3.02t 煤炭,由此可以分别消减 4.26t、4.21t、1.77t CO2排放量,对应分别减少 22.28kg、 21.49kg、7.54kg 氮的损失。与传统生物质能利用模式相比,户用沼气生态庭院模式降低了家庭妇女的劳动机会成本。因此,可以得 出结论,武隆县户实现生物质能有效利用的户用沼气生态庭院模式,调整了农村能源利用的形式,缓解其对生物质资源的压力,并且 改善环境经济条件和健康水平。

基于水资源生态足迹模型的山西省水资源可持续性研究 (Analysis of water sustainability issue on the basis of Water Ecological Footprint Model)

This brief is submitted in the Chinese language. The full brief could be accessed through the below link. Your comments could be in either English or Chinese.

摘 要
基于水资源生态足迹模型,结合水资源生态赤字、水资源生态压力指数、水资源利用效率指数,分析了山西省 2003~2012年水资源生态足迹变化趋势和水资源可持续利用状况。结果表明,(1)2003~2012年山西省人均水资源生态足迹 整体上呈缓慢增长趋势,人均水资源生态承载力总体上变化幅度比较平缓,导致人均水资源生态赤字的变化趋势与人均水资 源生态足迹的变化趋势基本相同;(2)2003~2012年山西省水资源开发利用效率虽逐年提高,但水资源的开发利用处于不安 全状态。

Fertilizer addiction: implications for sustainable agriculture

To meet increased demand for food spurred by a larger and richer population, FAO projects that global agricultural production in 2050 will be 60 percent
higher than in 2005/07. Most of this increase in production over the next 40 years is expected to derive from improved yields (FAO 2012).

This brief presents a model-based examination of short and long-term trade-offs between two alternate agricultural paradigms: industrial agriculture
dependent on agrochemicals, fuel-based mechanization and irrigation operations, etc.; and sustainable, low external input agriculture centered on preservation of soil organic matter (Pedercini, Zullich and Dianati 2014a, 2014b). The associated policy implications for long-term sustainability in agricultural yields, and food security, are huge.

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Integrated simulation models for sustainable agriculture policy design

Despite significant gains over the past decade, rural poverty, food and nutrition insecurity and environmental degradation remain pervasive problems in the developing world. It is estimated that approximately 805 million people worldwide suffer from hunger and approximately 1.4 billion live in extreme poverty (IFAD, 2010).

Developing coherent plans to combat these problems is complicated by the multi-disciplinary, interconnected and complex nature of the systems that must be managed. Therefore, it is imperative that the strategies developed to tackle these issues are based on comprehensive and sound analyses addressing their key dimensions in an integrated manner (UN, 1992; UN, 2000; UN, 2014a; UN, 2014b). The Threshold 21 (T21) simulation model supports such an approach (UNEP, 2014). T21 is an integrated and dynamic planning tool that enables transparent cross-sectoral analyses of the impacts of policies and enables exploration of their long-term consequences on social, economic and environmental development (Pedercini et al, 2010). T21 takes into account interdependency across sectors and is based on the vast collective knowledge gathered in multistakeholder processes. This makes it an effective tool for achieving a collectively shared understanding of problems, structures and solutions thus contributing to policy dialogue (Pedercini, 2005).

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The ocean is losing its breath

Decreased oxygen concentrations in the ocean, as a result of climate change and other anthropogenic stressors, e.g. nutrient input due to inefficient fertilizer use, was discussed in the latest IPCC report (2014). However, so far this emerging threat for the ocean is not fully acknowledged by policymakers and stakeholders at the global level. Systematic deoxygenation of the ocean will have widespread consequences. O2 plays a direct role in the biogeochemical cycling of carbon, nitrogen, and many other biogeochemically important elements (P, Fe, Mn, etc.). O2 is also fundamental for all aerobic life, including organisms living in the dark ocean interior. Deoxygenation (reduced oxygen concentration) mostly affects the marine environment at the local level, nevertheless economic and socio-economic impacts will impair the human society at the regional and global level….

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Long term sustainability of agro-silvo-pastoral ecosystems: the case of montado cultural landscape

The montado (dehesa in Spain) is recognized as a unique agro-silvo-pastoral ecosystem found only in the Mediterranean basin. These savannah-like landscapes are dominated by cork and holm oaks, shaped over millennia of traditional land use practices. These multi-use forests are a typical example of agroforestry systems facing environmental pressures (climate, land use or degradation), social changes (rural abandonment, ecotourism) and economic trends (e.g. EU policy changes). Today the traditional management practices are threatened, as are the benefits associated with the montado….

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Pastoral Development Pathways in Ethiopia; the Policy Environment and Critical Constraints

Pastoralism is a specialised form of natural resource management, adapted to ecosystems defined as marginal, characterised by a limited, variable and unpredictable agro-ecological resource endowment. These can vary from African dry lands to central Asian steppes to European mountains, to Andean plateaux. In order to make use of these territories, pastoralists critically rely on mobile livestock rearing; this is the factor that distinguishes them from other rural communities. Pastoralism is thus not only an economic activity aimed at animal production, but a while livelihood systems and a lifestyle in its own….

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Conserving traditional seed crops diversity

Over the last two decades, 75% of the genetic diversity of agricultural crops has been lost; 100 to 1000-fold decrease overtime. This phenomenon results in the decrease of ecosystem abilities to provide food for people and decrease the function of other ecosystem services. Crop varieties, as an integral part of genetic diversity, are the result of human selection and management as well as natural mechanisms of evolution. Evolution, based on mutation, natural hybridization, introgression and selection, adapts plant populations to the (agro-) environment. Plant breeding by farmers and specialists builds on these phenomena, makes them more efficient, and focuses them on farmers’ needs. Genetic diversity is the basis of all crop improvement.

Meanwhile the crop diversity has been decreasing, the World Bank estimates that about one billion of world’s population will still live in extreme poverty in 2015. 70% of world’s poor people are living in rural areas and they are relying on the agriculture sector, particularly on traditional agricultural systems. FAO suggests that efforts to eradicate hunger require an integrated approach especially to increase agricultural productivity and strengthen farmers’ resilience to environmental changes. In regard to FAO suggestion, it is important to restore crop diversity.

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Urban Agriculture

Urban Agriculture (UA) and peri-urban agriculture can be defined as the growing, processing, and distribution of food and other products through plant cultivation and seldom raising livestock in and around cities for feeding local populations. Over the last few years, UA has increased in popularity due to concerns about climate change and sustaining food security in urban areas. The effects of climate change has induced crop reductions and affected optimal environmental growing conditions through rising temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns. Although, agriculture contributes to 30% of anthropocentric greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, presence of vegetation in urban areas can lower temperatures and GHG emissions. An environmental Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Urban Food Growing in London found urban farms could potentially reduce foodrelated GHGs, such as CO2 by 34 tons per hectare.

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