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Earth Day 2013: Climate Change Challenges, Innovative Solutions
The challenge to feed a rapidly growing global population is intensified by changes in the environment. As the world recognizes Earth Day 2013 today, the need to plan for a changing climate and adapt to our environment becomes more pronounced.
At our March 20 morning briefing in Washington, DC, Manish Bapna of the World Resources Institute (WRI) focused on meeting the projected 2050 food demand while reducing pressure on ecosystems, climate, greenhouse gas emissions, and water.
After recognizing that food availability needs to increase at a tremendous rate in decades ahead, Bapna said, “On the other side, the world needs to reduce agriculture’s impact on the environment and natural resources.”
According to WRI, 24 percent of greenhouse gas emissions are a direct or indirect result of agriculture. And agriculture currently accounts for up to 85 percent of global water consumption.
The solution is to produce more with less and to manage new patterns of consumption with innovative policies and programs. Increasing production, changing what we consume, farming smarter, and cutting waste were cited by Bapna as critical components of climate smart agriculture and production systems for the future. Without more research and innovation, agriculture’s footprint will be more disruptive on agroecosystems.
Empowering farmers with the tools to be more productive will have long-lasting benefits on the environment. Only by doing so can future generations inherit a food secure world with an abundance of natural resources.