Compendium of Country Case Studies: Accelerating Transition to Sustainable Agriculture

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To access the full Compendium of Country Case Studies, please click here.

Foreword

Agriculture is essential for so many reasons – for food, for livelihoods, for our economies. But it is also the second main driver of climate change after energy, and by far the biggest driver of biodiversity loss and environmental degradation. Although we have delivered miraculous increases in food productivity over the past few decades, we have done so at the expense of future generations, and without very serious change we risk undermining our ability to sustain ourselves.

We therefore urgently need to deliver an ambitious global transition to sustainable, climate resilient agriculture that protects the natural ecosystems we all depend on, and which in turn allows agriculture to thrive to produce nutritious food and livelihoods for our children, their children and the generations to come.

The challenge is complex and many different actions will be needed, but government policies and support are one of the most powerful levers we have.

Globally, countries spend over $700bn a year of public funds in support of agriculture. Only 6% is explicitly used to address the challenges of climate change or biodiversity loss, with a further 6% going on public goods such as research and innovation. This means there is enormous potential to rethink and redirect public policies and support to move away from harmful practices towards creating incentives for sustainable agriculture and food systems.

As Nature lead for the UK’s COP Presidency, I have been greatly heartened to see Ministers coming forward to engage in an open and collaborative spirit on how we can all best address this challenge in the COP26 Policy Dialogue to Accelerate Transition to Sustainable Agriculture.

I also greatly appreciate the efforts made by several countries to share their experiences by authoring their own case studies in this Compendium.

The studies are organised in chapters aligned to specific themes of the dialogue, whilst research, development and innovation is a cross-cutting issue throughout the Compendium.

  • The Building Resilience chapter brings experience from some of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, on redirecting policies and support to help farmers adapt, and to increase food security.
  • The Farmers as Stewards of Nature case studies illustrate policies that enable and reward farmers to protect and restore natural resources.
  • The Ambition to Action chapter highlights policy reforms to reduce emissions and improve environmental outcomes, at the same time as increasing productivity and food security and supporting healthy diets.

The Compendium highlights a rich diversity of pathways to accelerating the shift to sustainable agriculture. It illustrates the need for state-led action, farmer-led innovation and international collaboration to ensure change is achieved at the pace and scale needed.

Many thanks to all countries who have contributed to this valuable resource.

Rt Hon Lord Goldsmith, Minister of State for Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)