Strategies that Work:  Food & Ecosystems

Music         Art          Film

Overview

The IPCC informs us that ~24% of the global carbon emissions we produce stem from food, agriculture & land use. When allowed to thrive naturally, land and water systems are not only a source of splendor, but are also deeply functional, and in a word—invaluable.  They work as “carbon sinks” that sequester carbon back into the ecosystem, or rather remove problematic carbon from the air and transform it back into stable, physical components of living, natural systems (forests, plankton, soil, etc.), at least to an extent. Through repurposing much of the world's land area for other human activities (agriculture, development, etc.), and in turn reducing the land's capacity to perform these naturally emergent services, the ability of these natural systems to counteract human-made carbon emissions has, however, been exceeded.  The purpose of this Track is to explore the impact of food production, consumption and waste on the health of ecosystems, and the ability of nature to balance the system when protected and restored.  We also explore the value of nature’s design wisdom to help us innovate new solutions. We will offer guidance regarding how your organization may take action to support a healthy system directly, and to advocate for policies to provide additional improvements.

 

In addition to reducing total carbon emissions, agriculture that places maintenance of functional ecosystems at the heart of its models obtain additional synergies in the sustainability domain, such as promoting the restoration of biodiversity, centering farmers, increasing the prosperity and agency of women & indigenous groups around the world, and increasing climate and food security, among other ecosystem services. Beyond agriculture, deployment of carbon offsets for unavoidable carbon emissions is a method by which emission can be accounted for by funding a proportional expansion of a carbon sink—although this process remains a transitional substitute for ultimately reducing or eliminating the source or generation point of the emissions.

Big Opportunities

Below are some selected actions and concepts to get you started…

  •  Food Sourcing - Buy food from companies that use sustainable agricultural practices, and implement those practices if you are an agricultural producer

  • Food Efficiency - Reduce food waste & Increase plant-rich diets 

  • Carbon Sinks & Offsets -   Understand Carbon Sinks and understand the pros and cons of Carbon Offsets

  • Protect & Restore Ecosystems - Understand that humans are part of an ecological system, and protection of all of the interconnected elements of that system is necessary for human survival and the survival of life generally in our shared biosphere 

  • Innovation in R&D - Support innovation in R&D by using Biomimicry to “Ask Nature” for answers to design questions 

  • Policy - Advocate for policies that support regenerative agriculture, food efficiency, and protect and restore ecosystems 

 

Please click on the READ MORE below for a deeper dive into the content and resources available to support you in these opportunities.

Explore: Readings

How to Save a Planet "Kelp Farming, for the Climate [II]" feat. A. Johnson
Podcast
"Global Carbon", USDA Climate Change Resource Center (2017)
Additional Reading
"Groundwater Decline and Depletion", USGS
Additional Reading
Biomimicry Solutions
Website Resources
Sea Level Watch (NASA)
Learning Tool
"Global Livestock Environmental Assessment Model (GLEAM)", UN FAO
Additional Reading
Voluntary Carbon Markets Initiative
Website Resources
"Safe & Sustainable Water Resources (2019-'22)", US EPA
Report
Matter of Degrees, "Cleaning Up the Carbon Mess", Drs. Stokes & Wilkinson
Podcast
NYT The Daily, "The Heat Wave that Hit the Pacific North-West"
Podcast
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, by Jared Diamond (2005)
Book
"Making Carbon Markets Work for Faster Climate Action", (TNC)
Additional Reading
Taskforce for Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets
Website Resources
Ask Nature
Website Resources
Presentation Slides - Kelley Hamrick (TNC) - Track Speaker
Presentation Slides
"Climate Change-World’s Marine Ecosystems", Hoegh-Guldberg & Bruno (2010).
Additional Reading
"Living Planet Report 2020", WWF (2020)
Report
"It’s Time to Plant the Seeds of Sustainable Growth in Ag.", BSG (2018)
Additional Reading
30 Days of Reconnection (Biomimicry Institute)
Learning Tool
Global Forest Watch
Learning Tool
"Ocean & Cryosphere in a Changing Climate: Special Report", IPCC (2019)
Report
Carbon Offset Guide
Website Resources
"7 Things to Know About the IPCC’s Special Report on Climate Change and Land", (WRI)
Additional Reading
Throughline (NPR) "Force of Nature" [on genesis of first Earth Day]
Podcast
"The Biodiversity Crisis Is a Business Crisis", BSG (2021)
Report
"Averting a global fisheries disaster", Boris Worm (2016).
Additional Reading
"Building Sustainable Farms", USDA (2020)
Report
"Creating a Sustainable Food Future: Synthesis Report", WRI (2018)
Report
Global Opportunity Explorer
Website Resources
The Diversity of Life, E. O. Wilson (1992; Harvard University Press)
Book
"Tracking the global footprint of fisheries", Kroodsma et al. (2018)
Additional Reading
"Climate Change: Ocean Heat Content", Duhlman & Lindsey (2020) - NOAA.
Additional Reading
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert (2015)
Book
"Growing Up: The story of natural climate solutions", (Nature4Climate)
Additional Reading
"Issues Brief: Ocean Warming", IUCN
Additional Reading
Snap Judgement "Chasing Thunder" [on illegal highseas fishing]
Podcast
Race to Zero (UNFCCC)
Website Resources
EU Taxonomy for Sustainable Activities (European Commission)
The EU taxonomy is a classification system, establishing a list of environmentally sustainable economic activities. It could play an important role helping the EU scale up sustainable investment and implement the European green deal. The EU taxonomy would provide companies, investors and policymakers with appropriate definitions for which economic activities can be considered environmentally sustainable. The Taxonomy Regulation was published and entered into force in July 2020. It establishes the basis for the EU taxonomy by setting out 4 overarching conditions that an economic activity has to meet in order to qualify as environmentally sustainable. The Taxonomy Regulation establishes six environmental objectives: 1. Climate change mitigation 2. Climate change adaptation 3. The sustainable use and protection of water and marine resources 4. The transition to a circular economy 5. Pollution prevention and control 6. The protection and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems Different means can be required for an activity to make a substantial contribution to each objective. This EU Taxonomy Compass provides a visual representation of the contents of the EU Taxonomy, starting with the Delegated Act on the climate objectives, as adopted on 4 June 2021. Looking forward, it will be updated to include future delegated acts specifying technical screening criteria for additional economic activities substantially contributing to the climate objectives and the other environmental objectives of the Taxonomy Regulation. It will also reflect reviews of the delegated acts in the future. The EU Taxonomy Compass aims to make the contents of the EU Taxonomy easier to access for a variety of users. It enables users to check which activities are included in the EU Taxonomy (taxonomy-eligible activities), to which objectives they substantially contribute and what criteria they have to meet. It is important to note that minimum safeguards (social standards) have to be met for an economic activity to be considered taxonomy-aligned
Website Resources
"Greenhouse Gas Accounting & Reporting Guidance", Value Change (2021)
Report
FAO AQUASTAT
Website Resources
SDG Progress Tracker (Global Change Data Lab)
Learning Tool
Climate Change Solutions Simulator
Learning Tool
Natural Climate Solutions Alliance
Website Resources
BBC Climate Question,"Why can't we crack our food waste problem?"
Podcast
"Planetary boundaries: Guiding human development", Steffen et al. (2015)
Additional Reading
"Ocean and Climate Change", The Ocean Foundation
Additional Reading
Forest, Land & Agriculture (SBTi FLAG)
Website Resources
Seafood Watch (Monteray Bay Aquarium)
Website Resources
Planet Money (NPR), "Sell Me Your Climate Bombs" [on refrigerant buyback]
Podcast
Mobilizing voluntary carbon markets to drive climate action (EDF)
Website Resources
Global Carbon Atlas
Learning Tool
"Factsheet: People and Oceans", United Nations Ocean Conference (2017).
Additional Reading
BBC Climate Question,"Why are we failing to protect the Amazon rainforest?"
Podcast
Our World in Data (Global Change Data Lab; Oxford)
Learning Tool
Climate Action Challenge: Eco-initiative in 90 Days, J. Gregerson (2021)
Book
Carbon Offsets Illustrated (TNC)
Learning Tool
Net Zero Guidance (SBTi)
Website Resources
"The Staggering Value of Forests", Boston Consluting Group
Additional Reading
"Carbon Sinks: A Brief Review", Owen Mulhern
Additional Reading
Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services, IPBES (2019)
Report
"Thinking Globally About Local Water Crises", Boston Consulting Group
Additional Reading
CAL-ADAPT
Website Resources
SDG Action Manager (UN Global Compact)
Learning Tool
Presentation Slides - Lex Amore (Biomimicry Institute) - Track Speaker
Presentation Slides
Agriculture & Fisheries Database (OECD)
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an international organisation that works to build better policies for better lives. Our goal is to shape policies that foster prosperity, equality, opportunity and well-being for all. We draw on 60 years of experience and insights to better prepare the world of tomorrow. Together with governments, policy makers and citizens, we work on establishing evidence-based international standards and finding solutions to a range of social, economic and environmental challenges. From improving economic performance and creating jobs to fostering strong education and fighting international tax evasion, we provide a unique forum and knowledge hub for data and analysis, exchange of experiences, best-practice sharing, and advice on public policies and international standard-setting.
Website Resources
"Report of the Task Force on Net Zero Goals & Carbon Pricing", CPLC (2021)
Report
Biomimicry Institute
Website Resources
Accounting for Natural Climate Solutions Guidance (Quantis)
Website Resources
How to Save a Planet "Kelp Farming, for the Climate" feat. Dr Ayana Johnson
Podcast
Project Drawdown
Website Resources
"Feeding ten billion people is possible", Garten et al. (2020)
Additional Reading
The Carbon Credit Quality Initiative
Website Resources

Explore: Media

Thomas Cole (1836). View from Mount Holyoke
Art
"Resonance" - Home
Music
Why you should shop at your local farmers market | Mohammad Modarres
Video
Hokusai (19th c.). Big Wave Fuji (2nd Volume).
Art
The Green Groves of Erin / The Flowers of Red Hill
Music
5 policies for a prosperous, sustainable world | J. Rockström
Video
Ansel Adams (1960). Redwoods, Bull Creek Flat, California
Art
"Feel It All Around" - Washed Out
Music
Biggest Little Farm, directed by John Chester (2018)
Film
J. Ganz (1825). The Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram
Art
How to use the ocean without using it up | Ayana Elizabeth Johnson
Video
"I'll Fly Away" - Gillian Welch & others
Music
Greening the ghetto | Majora Carter
Video
"Music for a Found Harmonium" - Patrick Street
Music
The global movement to restore nature's biodiversity | Thomas Crowther
Video
Hokusaica (1832). 美濃ノ国養老の滝 [Yōrō Waterfall in Mino Province].
Art
"Barton Hollow" - The Civil Wars
Music
Need to track the world's water like we track the weather | Sonaar Luthra
Video
Crop insurance, an idea worth seeding | Rose Goslinga
Video
Henri Rousseau (1891). Surprised!
Art
"Acid Rain Drops" - People Under the Stairs
Music
Big data, small farms and a tale of two tomatoes | Erin Baumgartner
Video
Zaria Forman (2014). Svalbard #33 (pastel on paper)
Art
Kiss the Ground, directed/produced by Josh & Rebecca Ticknell et al. (2020)
Film
Water: our most precious resource
Video
"I Am Done With Evil" - Zomba Prison Project
Music
An ingenious proposal for scaling up marine protection | TNC
Video
"Smooth Sailin'" - Leon Bridges
Music
How to grow a forest in your backyard | Shubhendu Sharma
Video
Science-based Targets for Forest, Land, Ag. / Greenhouse Gas Protocol
Video
A handful of villages sparked a marine conservation revolution | A. Harris
Video
David Ambarzumjan (2021). This Was Water
Art
Why we should trust scientists | Naomi Oreskes
Video
Trees: The superheroes we’ve been waiting for | Andy Lipkis | TEDxUCLA
Video
The next global agricultural revolution | Bruce Friedrich
Video