GRET is now a signatory of the “4 per 1,000 initiative: soils for food security and the climate”. This initiative, launched in France to coincide with COP 21 and today supported by over 200 members, makes agriculture one of the most effective levers to improve food security and combat climate change.
The consortium originated in a number, or rather a percentage: 4 ‰. The latter represents the rate of annual growth of carbon stored in soils which is necessary to compensate for all the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions. The “4 per 1,000” initiative aims to demonstrate the essential role of agriculture, especially agricultural soils, in mitigation of climate change. By promoting increased adaptation of agricultural practices to local conditions and greater inclusion of criteria relating to environmental, social and economic issues, it encourages the various stakeholders to preserve land and restore fragile, desertified soils.
The members of the consortium – made up of States, territorial authorities, international organisations, research institutes, civil society representatives and some companies – are all committed to implementing concrete actions on carbon storage in soils and promoting the techniques necessary to do this (agroecology, agroforestry, etc.). The partners will also strive to facilitate sharing of information and multiply collaborations, via the launch of a multi-stakeholder platform that will strengthen exchanges, partnerships and capitalisation of experience, and also via a digital resource centre.
Several activities have already been scheduled for 2017, such as the publication of a map illustrating the state of carbon in the planet’s soils and the compilation of a benchmark and indicators drawn up by international experts who are members of the initiative’s scientific and technical committee. These tools should make it possible to measure the exact quantity of carbon stored according to soils and practices, thus providing a better analysis of the impacts of agricultural projects on soils, food security and the climate.
GRET will however remain attentive to see that the “4 per 1,000” initiative – via the benchmark drawn up by the scientific and technical committee and the research and action programmes – will make it possible to identify, promote and evaluate types of agriculture, production systems and agricultural practices that contribute to:
- sequestration/storage of carbon, by linking it to minimization of carbon emissions into the atmosphere and of other agricultural emissions (methane and nitrous oxide);
- the generation of other positive environmental outcomes (biodiversity, minimizing pollution of the environment);
- economic and social development for rural territories and populations (food security, employment) with particular focus on farmers, who make up the vast majority of producers worldwide.