Soil Gets Royal Treatment in Run-up to UN’s COP 22
Last week Britain’s Prince Charles convened “Climate Friendly Landscapes,” an international meeting to discuss a topic he believes is “at the heart of everything” – the prince was, of course, referring to healthy, fertile soil.
With the 22nd United Nations climate Conference of the Parties or “COP 22”starting next week in Marrakech, Morocco, it is exciting to see soil, an often overlooked, but essential natural resource, make global headlines.
Among those presenting at the London meeting were Professor Rattan Lal of Ohio State University, president elect of the International Union of Soil Sciences, and Eric Toensmeier, Yale University lecturer and author of “The Carbon Farming Solution.” Toensmeier, who shared insights strategies that drawdown atmospheric carbon including planting tropical tree staple crops, silvopasture (the practice of combining forestry and grazing) and multi-strata agroforestry systems, said “It was great to see finance (World Bank and more), government ministers, NGO leaders, farmers, and scientists all in one room focusing on climate mitigation and scaling up carbon-friendly practices.”
An agro-ecological, organic farmer for the past thirty years, Prince Charles praised Germany’s Bonn Challenge which advances the cause of forest landscape restoration. He also praised France’s 4 per 1000” initiative which seeks to increase the organic content and health of soils worldwide and vowed to advance similar soil-building targets in the United Kingdom. Formally introduced at COP 21 last December, “4 per 1000” has now been signed by 180 governments and institutions and more are expected to sign up at COP 22. CFS is proud to have been among the initial signatories and will be at the first meeting of civil society to plan the initiative’s governing structure.
Blessed with a Mediterrean climate, Morocco is one of the world’s most productive and agriculturally diverse countries; and agriculture, unlike other sectors of the global economy, has the potential to emit or sequester greenhouse gases. Those of us convening in Marrakech are tasked with building upon the historic COP 21 when 191 nations reached the Paris Agreement. We hope more governments, civil society organizations, scientists, and farmers’ organizations join France and the UK in setting targets to increase the carbon content of soil, an achievable task with global benefits. Here’s how Prince Charles summed up the opportunity:
“What a wonderfully positive difference it would make to the lives of farmers and rural communities right around the world – from the U.K. to Senegal, the U.S. to Argentina, from France to India, and from Brazil to the Middle East – if farmers and rural communities, who are the first to suffer from the rigors of a changing climate, as well as from the damage to the health, ecology and biodiversity of the natural environment upon which they (and we) wholly depend, could be properly rewarded for being good stewards of their land, including their soil carbon…”