Solutions From the Land Initiative

The Solutions From the Land initiative is a newly announced coalition of world government, universities and various NGOs which will be funded by The United Nations Foundation, Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, and Farm Foundation.  Formally launched about two weeks ago, the initiative is tasked with creating integrative land use systems which reduce hunger, improve water availability, protect and encourage biodiversity, and battle the threats of climate change.  Way to jump right in the deep end!

The initiative’s website, www.sfldialogue.net, proclaims their vision for the world by 2050:

“By 2050, agricultural systems, forests and other land uses are managed to simultaneously satisfy domestic and global demand for safe, abundant and affordable food, feed, and fiber; support economic security and sustainable development; reduce hunger and malnutrition; improve soil, air and water quality; enhance biodiversity and ensure ecosystem health, and deliver mitigation and adaptation solutions to a changing climate.”

This coming year, four working task groups will address questions critical to the success of the above stated vision.  These task groups will be made up of members of various conservation, forestry, and agricultural groups, as well as representatives from universities and the non-profit world.  They will discuss how to balance an increased demand for natural resources with a need to protect and/or restore natural spaces for the long-term protection of ecosystems while delivering enough water and food to maintain safe and healthy human populations.  They will also look at ways in which legislation, incentivisation, and regulation can be restructured to best serve all interrelated industries.

Then, in Phase 3 of the initiative, scheduled to roll out in 2012, the involved organizations will lay a road map for others to follow to ensure compliance with the spirit of the initiative’s findings.  The initiative hopes to change consumer behavior through a combination of policy changes, voluntary initiatives such as buyer programs, and consumer awareness campaigns, which may also include incentive programs which reward innovations in system design processes and land use.  Though the initial phase of the initiative focuses on domestic American systems, the eventual goal is to take the recommendations, programs, and best practices findings global, in particular so they may benefit developing nations.

I will be interested to see how this project moves forward.  Certainly the approach of integrated systems management which complements rather than destroys surrounding environments is one worth pursuing.  It is headed by the former California Secretary of Food and Agriculture A.G. Kawamura, who is himself a farmer, and Tom Lovejoy of the H. John Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment.  A full list of the design team who have been collaborating these past two years and creating the mission statement can be found at the link above or on their website.

Download a PDF summary of the SFL initiative here.

Initiative press contact information here.

Learn more about Integrated Ecosystem Assessments, as described by NOAA’s NCCOS program, which aims to protect coastal lands and waters through similar research methodologies.

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