We are all concerned!
Acting to ensure food security and support the climate
24% of the world's soils are degraded to varying degrees, including almost half of the agricultural soils [source: Bai et al., 2013]
1500 billion tons of carbon in the organic matter of the world's soils, more than twice the carbon of atmospheric CO2 [source: IPCC, 2013]
1.2 billion tons of carbon per year could be stored in agricultural soils (crops and grasslands), i.e. an annual storage rate of about 4 per 1000 relative to the soil surface horizon (top 40 centimetres of soil) [source: IPCC, 2014]
24 to 40 million tons of additional cereals could be produced each year in Africa, Asia and South America by storing one additional ton of organic matter per hectare [Lal, 2006]
USD 1.2 billion in cereal economic loss due to land degradation [FAO, 2006]
Interview with Paul Luu, Executive Secretary of the "4 per 1000" initiative
Interviewed in Marrakech, during the COP 22 (November 2016), Paul Luu gives an update on the stakes of the "4 per 1000" initiative, whose structure is now fully in place.
His goal: to enable the solutions proposed by farmers and researchers (agroforestry, composting, improvement of the soil fertilization, etc.) to be put in place at the international level:
Why soils are important for the climate
1. Combating soil degradation
Soil degradation poses a threat to over 40% of the world’s dry land and the process is being accelerated by climate change. Such degradation has negative impacts on food security and family farming.
2. Helping to ensure food security
Our ability to feed 9.5 billion human beings in 2050 in the midst of climate change will notably depend on our ability to protect living soils. There is a strong correlation between agricultural production and soil health, for which the principal indicator is its organic matter content. Productive, stable soils are directly conducive to farms’ resilience in the face of climate change.
3. Adapting agriculture to climate change
Soils that are richer in carbon cope better with the impacts of climate change because they withstand erosion and retain water more effectively, especially during extreme events such as drought.
Examples of solutions
The “4 per 1,000” Initiative wants to demonstrate that agriculture can provide practical solutions to the challenge of climate disruption, while also meeting that posed by food security through the use of farming methods that match local conditions: e.g. agroecology, agroforestry, conservation agriculture, landscape management.
The high added value of the "4 per 1000" Initiative
The "4 for 1000" Initiative should allow concrete actions to be developed on the field, benefiting farmers and livestock breeders - the first affected by land degradation -, and, more broadly, to the entire world population.
It is a multi-stakeholder initiative built around two lines of actions:
- A multi-stakeholder (state and non-state) action program for improved soil carbon management to combat poverty and food insecurity, while contributing to the adaptation to/ and the mitigation of climate change
- An international research and scientific cooperation program
How to participate?
Every organisation can act at its own level, make itself known and share the experience of its project by joining the initiative "4 per 1000".
Projects, practical actions and results, in particular the results of research, can be exchanged on the collaborative platform allowing everyone to benefit from the experience of all.
Thus, States, representatives of farmers and agricultural sectors, international organisations, scientific and technical research institutes, local authorities, development banks, foundations, private enterprises, non-governmental organisations are invited to participate and sign the joint declaration.
This initiative is coherent with the other initiatives related to agriculture and climate and are not competing. It contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, including the goal of a land-degradation neutral world.
You have the opportunity to act within one or other of the sections of the initiative
A multi-actor action program
For improved soil carbon management to combat poverty and food insecurity while contributing to adaptation to climate change and mitigation thanks to:
1) Local management: the implementation, at the local level, of agricultural practices and management of environments favourable to soil restoration, increase of their organic carbon stock, protection of carbon-rich soils and biodiversity.
2) Training: the implementation of training and knowledge programs to promote these practices; the funding for projects to restore, improve and / or conserve carbon stocks in soils.
3) Public policies: the development and implementation of public policies and adapted tools
4) Supply chains: development of supply chains for agricultural products respecting the soil...
5) An international scientific research and cooperation program: "Carbon in soils": a food security challenge "covering four complementary scientific questions:
• The study of mechanisms and estimation of carbon storage potential in soils by regions and systems
• The assessment of the performance of virtuous agricultural practices and their consequences for sequestration and other production and regulatory services
• The accompaniment for innovations and their stimulation through appropriate policies
• The monitoring, reporting and verification of results (MRV - measuring, reporting and verification), in particular for farmers.
How to get involved?
The stakeholders of this initiative are committed to ensure that a maximum number of agricultural soils, through their actions, benefit from practices to maintain or improve their carbon content or to preserve carbon-rich soils.
Every participant giving such undertakings by signing the joint declaration of intention must state the goal it has set for itself, the types of action to be taken, the relevant timetable and the dedicated resources.
All the partners who joined the process and signed the Joint Declaration of Intent were invited to take part in the official launch of the operation during COP 21 on 1 December 2015 under the framework of the Action Plan Lima- Paris (LPAA).