World Environment Day, commemorated each year on 5 June, is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action. Recognizing that climate change is becoming the defining issue of our era, the United Nations Environmental Program, UNEP focuses this year on greenhouse gas emissions and how to reduce them.
The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) offers with great consciousness Organic Agriculture as a tool in countering climate change. Organic Agriculture not only mitigates climate change, it also helps farmers to adapt to it.
As no chemical nitrogen fertilizers are used and since nutrient losses are minimized, organic practices reduce greenhouse gases. By building organic matter carbon is stored in soil and plant biomass. Moreover organic farmers minimize energy consumption by 30 – 70% per unit of land as compared to conventional industrial agriculture by using internal farm inputs. Its impact on mitigating climate change is therefore considerable.
Poor farmers in marginalized areas, living already under harsh conditions are affected most by climate change. However, organic practices help them to adapt, since it prevents nutrients and water loss through high organic matter content and soil covers. Like this, soils are more resilient to floods, droughts and land degradation processes. Organic Agriculture also preserves seed and crop diversity, which increases crop resistance to pests and disease. All in all it minimizes risk as a result of stable agro-ecosystems and yield, and lower production costs.
Gerald A. Herrmann, IFOAM president, states that: ‘Also with climate change there is unequal division between the North and South; on the one hand the North is contributing disproportionally to climate change, on the other hand Southern countries are most prone to its effects. IFOAM member organizations all over the globe have shown through their practices that they are better able to cope with droughts and other climate effects. Through their daily work they help not only farming communities in improving the food security situation, they also serve whole humanity by storing carbon in their precious soils.’
Angela B. Caudle de Freitas, IFOAM Executive Director says: ‘Fortunately we are all in a situation to adjust our habits to reduce our climate impact. By choosing organic when buying your daily food you not only help mitigating climate change, but also can be assured of a healthy and nutritious meal.’
The Organic World Congress, taking place from June 18 – 20 in Modena, Italy, will offer a whole day workshop on Organic Agriculture and Climate Change.