Synergies for Food Production, Conservation and Rural Development in a Changing Climate
Monday, August 10, 2015: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
328, Baltimore Convention Center
Meredith T. Niles
The challenge of sustainably meeting growing global food demand is complicated by the need to foster economic development in regions of extreme rural poverty and the fact that sometimes the cheapest ways to increase agricultural production are to intensify input usage or clear forest for new cropland and pasture. While challenging, it is possible to integrate food production, ecology, and development efforts in a way that enables viable rural livelihoods without compromising natural resources and ecosystem services. Nevertheless, changing climatic conditions present both new challenges and potential opportunities for sustainable food production. Agriculture is both a contributor to the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change and a potential victim to its impacts. Many strategies to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions may also help farmers adapt to likely impacts and also provide additional co-benefits for agro-ecosystems. As well, climate change may threaten the ways in which markets, socio-economic systems, trade, and social institutions operate, which can have feedback into the agro-ecological context.
In this session we will explore a diversity of projects from around the world demonstrating the tradeoffs and synergies for food production, conservation and rural development in a changing climate. In many cases these are win-win opportunities where rural livelihoods can benefit from agro-ecological management practices or payment for ecosystem services that continues food production and increases rural livelihoods. Yet, there are also challenges in scaling-up adaptation and mitigation strategies in the context of national policy and market forces that prioritize ecological harmful practices and short-term production gains over long-term sustainability. We will describe empirically many examples of both success and challenges in this context and provide a series of lessons learned and recommendations for future research as the need for sustainable food production continues.