Issues in considering GHG measurements in agriculture

Session number 3 Room: Al Majida

Key messages

Monitoring and reporting is important at all levels:

  1. Farmers want resilience and increased productivity;
  2. Industry interested to in-set their emissions reductions and ensuring resilience of their supply chains;
  3. Ministries are increasingly interested in evidence-based decision making and performance monitoring of their programs;
  4. National level policy-makers need to bench-mark against national development goals; and facilitate cross-sectoral policy-making; and
  5. The global level needs understanding of the potential and performance of the sector to achieve mitigation and adaptation goals.

Across these levels, we need incentives that are linked to multiple benefits; and to facilitate communication among these actors (from the bottom-up and top-down).

Landscapes and livelihoods provide the entry points for consistent and holistic analytical frameworks.

Data needs and decision-support tools should reflect the above incentives and gaps need to be addressed.

Summary of Session

The discussion took a holistic approach to issues related to greenhouse gas (GHG) measurement, recognizing there are many inter-linked priorities that related to measurements across different actors and scales. In thinking about how GHG measurement tools and systems related to priorities of resilience, adaptation and livelihoods, the group identified a number of challenges to be addressed, and shared ideas on how to do so.

Some of the challenges identified included how to both understand and create appropriate incentives for engagement across multiple sectors across the landscapes; and among actors from the ground level to the international arena.  To do this, we need to bridge the gap between on-the-ground information gathering and policymaking by translating data into information, and information into usable knowledge that will inform decision-makers at multiple levels. Turning data into useful knowledge will require cross-coordination within and across different ministries and sectors at the national level. In other words, to achieve landscape and livelihood goals, we need to not only gather more data, but better utilize data that already exists.

To engage farmers we need to simplify emissions measurement and monitoring tools and link them to farmers priorities of increased productivity and resilience, and use the data collected from these efforts to engage other actors by developing accessible, web-based decision-support tools. It is also important to recognize that farmers are primarily interested in resilience for their livelihoods, and business is interested in the resilience of their supply chains. Currently, we have few ways of understanding resilience (e.g., resilient to what? on what time scale?), and measuring resilience (e.g., how do we ensure stability or continuous improvement?).  More resilience-based tools that are widely applicable are needed.

Finally, to facilitate cross-scale coordination and exchange, we need to consider how to improve communications among these multiple actors (both bottom-up and top-down communication) and across the landscape environment and livelihoods in society.

UN Food and Agriculture Organisation
World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)
The Meridian Institute

Related links

Blogs from this session
Mitigation and adaptation: a perfect marriage made on farms

More session information ↓

Brief synopsis of the issue
Future agricultural production systems will have several challenges to address:

  • increasing productivity on existing cultivated and grazed areas;
  • managing  climate change impacts on production (extreme events, raising temperatures and changing rainfall patters, changing agro-ecological zones);
  • and increasing the efficiency  of resource use and reducing environmental impacts including emissions.

Research and practical experiences show that by applying climate-lens to agricultural practices and systems, it is possible to increase productivity, increase the resilience and adaptive capacity for both livelihoods and ecosystems, while also tapping into considerable mitigation potential of various production systems as an important co-benefit.  For instance, sustainably increasing productivity on existing cultivated and grazed areas may decrease pressure on forests while increasing carbon content both above and below ground; in turn, such activities cannot be sustainably achieved if they do not also increase resilience of both ecosystems and livelihoods.

The GHG emissions and the mitigation potential of agriculture, forestry and their associated land use and land use changes are significant in the context of total anthropogenic action, with many options for land-based carbon sequestration and emissions reductions.  Many countries recognize the significance of this potential and are starting to take action for measuring these emissions, while also ensuring these activities contribute to farmers’ adaptive capacity and livelihoods. It is therefore important to be able to develop effective and simple methods and tools to help Parties quantify their GHG emissions, and help them identify mitigation measures that are consistent with promoting local livelihoods and rural development.

This roundtable will discuss data needs and existing sources for national reporting, and present some technical solutions for measurement in agricultural systems.  Part of the discussion will focus on the importance of data that can also be used as indicators for adaptation and resilience.

Agenda for the session:

  • Keynote presentations by FAO and ICRAF
  • Case Example – Plan Vivo
  • Panel of Discussants responding to the presentation through key questions
  • Summary and closing

Questions to be addressed:

  1. Identifying and Responding to Data Needs: What are the data needs for farmers, development practitioners, researchers and policymakers related to demonstrating the mitigation co-benefit in sustainable agricultural development?
  2. Making Data Relevant to Other Benefits: How can quantifiable data be utilized as indicators for more qualitative impacts such as improved adaptation, resilience and livelihoods? Could resilience and productivity indicators also demonstrate mitigation improvements?
  3. Relate to Smallholders: What kind of investments are needed in terms of a) gathering evidence of mitigation and resilience changes (research) and b) developing capacity for scaling up sustainable agricultural practices (development) with an overall goal of improving agricultural development investments benefiting small holders?