Worldwatch Report #188: Innovations in Sustainable Agriculture: Supporting Climate-Friendly Food Production

Higher temperatures and unpredictable weather events are disrupting life sustaining agriculture in many parts of the world, derailing efforts to reduce hunger and poverty in the world’s poorest regions. Because agriculture relies on healthy soil, adequate water, and a delicate balance of gases in the atmosphere, farming is the human endeavor most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. At the same time, agriculture is a major driver of human caused climate change, contributing anywhere from 25 to 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The good news is that agriculture, when done sustainably, holds an important key to mitigating climate change. The United Nations estimates that the global agricultural sector could potentially reduce and remove 80 to 88 percent of the carbon dioxide that it currently produces. Practices such as using animal manure rather than artificial fertilizer, planting trees on farms to reduce soil erosion, and growing food in cities all hold huge potential for shrinking agriculture’s environmental footprint and mitigating the damaging effects of climate change.

By tapping into the multitude of climate-friendly farming practices that already exist, agriculture can continue to supply food for the human population, as well as income for the world’s 1.3 billion farmers. Climate-friendly agriculture also can play a critical role in the global reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the mitigation of climate change.

Eating Planet 2012–Nutrition Today: A Challenge for Mankind and for the Planet

At the end of 2011, Nourishing the Planet collaborated with the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition to publish Eating Planet–Nutrition Today: A Challenge for Mankind and for the Planet. The book looks at the paradoxes of the global food system, the cultural value of food, production and consumption trends, and the effects of individual eating habits on health and on the environment. According to the report, the most pressing problems in today’s agricultural system are a lack of access to nutritious foods, enormous amounts of food waste, environmental degradation, and a lack of interest in agriculture among the next generation. In a review, The Guardian referred to it as a “useful resource that focuses on important issues confronting humanity: food production and availability.” The book was released on Earth Day (April 22, 2012).

State of the World 2011

The 2011 edition of the Worldwatch Institute’s flagship report is a compelling look at the global food crisis, with particular emphasis on global innovations that can help solve a worldwide problem. State of the World 2011 not only introduces us to the latest agro-ecological innovations and their global applicability but also gives broader insights into issues including poverty, international politics, and even gender equity.

Written in clear, concise language, with easy-to-read charts and tables, State of the World 2011, produced with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, provides a practical vision of the innovations that will allow billions of people to feed themselves, while restoring rural economies, creating livelihoods, and sustaining the natural resource base on which agriculture depends.

State of the World 2011 is available for purchase here.

Preview State of the World 2011Innovations that Nourish the Planet:

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Author Bios


Worldwatch Report #188: Innovations in Sustainable Agriculture: Supporting Climate-Friendly Food Production

Eating Planet 2012–Nutrition Today: A Challenge for Mankind and for the Planet

Worldwatch Report 179: Mitigating Climate Change Through Food and Land Use

Worldwatch Report 176: Farming Fish for Our Future

Worldwatch Paper 172: Catch of the Day: Choosing Seafood for Healthier Oceans

Worldwatch Paper 171: Happier Meals: Rethinking the Global Meat Industry

State of the World 2007 Chapter 3: Farming the Cities

State of the World 2008 Chapter 5: Meat and Seafood: The Global Diet’s Most Costly Ingredients

State of the World 2009 Chapter 3: Farming and Land Use to Cool the Planet

State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet