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Ways COVID-19 could lead to less hunger in Africa. Growing proteins for a meatless future

To combat climate change this decade, restore the Earth.

  • According to the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration (GPFLR), there are some 2 billion hectares of degraded landscapes – a footprint the size of South America – which negatively impacts the lives of at least 3.2 billion people and costs a 10 percent loss of global GDP.
  • While a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last year warned of the necessity of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2030, another report from the same body released in August of this year stated that warming in land surface air already averages 1.53 degrees Celsius above those levels.
  • Estimates of the cost to restore a 350 million hectare portion of the degraded territory tally in at approximately USD 800 billion, according to Inger Andersen, executive director U.N. Environment, who pointed out that this equates to only two years’ worth of fossil fuel subsidies. Robert Nasi, director general of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) added the world’s military expenditure of USD 1.8 trillion, for perspective.
  • Restoring the same territory could bring returns of USD 9 trillion.“This Decade is about our very survival,” said Andersen.
  • To inform the Decade, the event focused on the current state of world’s different ecosystems, including forests, agricultural landscapes, mountains, drylands and rangelands, peatlands and wetlands, and oceans and coastal areas. Discussions highlighted profitable solutions for restoring each type of ecosystem, such as growing biomass for biofuel on peatlands; integrating forests and farmland to improve soil health and biodiversity in food production; or mobilizing individuals to plant trees through a fun-to-use phone app.
  • Nearly all of the restoration methods discussed are what environmentalists call “nature-based solutions” to climate change, a term that has been gaining airtime in international climate discussions and was a focus of the U.N. summit and Climate Week.
  • “We’re in a race against time, but we cannot be in a race against nature,” said Tony Simons, director general of World Agroforestry. “It must be a race with nature.”
  • The change needed in food systems and consumption in order to protect landscapes was a focus of the day, running from dietary habits to increased aid for farmers. Harvard professor Walter Willett, one of the world’s leading nutritionists and co-commissioner of 2018’s headline-making EAT-Lancet report, encouraged diets composed in half of fruits and vegetables, which is proven to reduce strain on healthcare systems by lowering risks of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes as well as greenhouse gas emissions through decreased demand for livestock and unsustainable grazing.
  • Plant-based-meat producer Impossible Foods, which served lunch, stood as a market-based equivalent to such recommendations, with a soy-based meat substitute that produces 90 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than meat and requires approximately 28 square meters less land. The brand’s ground beef substitute has been hailed as indistinguishable from cow meat, seeing the brand’s sales grow fivefold since the beginning of 2019 alone.
  • Incentivizing farmers to plant in a sustainable manner that accounts for soil health, biodiversity and water in food production – a practice known as regenerative farming – was discussed by Chris Newman, co-founder of permaculture-focused Sylvanaqua Farms. More support from private finance is crucial for fair pay for farmers and incentivizing future generations to continue learning how to farm, as well as incorporation of Indigenous knowledge into farming practices.( Source GLF New York 2019)

Growing proteins for a meatless future. How one scientist is designing a plant-based diet for the 21st century

Lessons for feeding a warming world. The IPCC report suggests that as much as 30 percent of food produced is lost or wasted. How significant a concern is this?

  • Unfortunately, the foods that are most prone to waste and loss are actually the most nutritious ones. It’s perishable items like vegetables or eggs or fish, which are very prone to huge amounts of waste and loss in the food value chain.
  • This means global resources are going into the production of food that will not be used for anyone’s benefit. That’s shocking from an environmental perspective. There is also a link with poor food safety – and that causes lots of suffering around the world. So, for all of those reasons, food waste really is something that needs to be tackled.

Ways COVID-19 could lead to less hunger in Africa. New report looks at the pandemic’s effects on hunger and nutrition on the continent

  • “There’s a lot of arable land, and a lot more could be produced here,” says Newman. “So what we’re talking about is more efficient production that doesn’t result in detriment to the environment, to biodiversity and to ecosystems.” Sustainable farming techniques, such as agroecological approaches and climate-smart agriculture, could not only improve crop yields and reduce the need for imported chemical fertilizers and pesticides, but also enhance soil health. 
  • With these kinds of ecological concepts and principles, he says, it would also be possible to “build in social elements for sustainable and fair food systems and food production.”
  • The Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement, which came into effect last year, could also help reduce the continent’s reliance on imports, with it signatories selling food, animal fodder, and agricultural inputs to their neighbours instead of exporting them to international destinations.
  • The COVID-19 crisis “is really forcing us now to come to terms with what the future of Africa looks like from an agriculture standpoint,” says Newman, “looking at inputs to agricultural production for all the different sectors, livestock, crops, fish and aquaculture, and also non-wood forest products. See also FAO recent report "FAO's component of the Global COVID-19 Humanitarian Response Plan"

Join the GLF Bonn Digital Conference 2020: Food in the time of climate crisis, 3–5 June.

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