Integrated and holistic approaches as the way forward
Climate change, biodiversity loss and land degradation are closely interrelated. If global warming is not limited to 1.5C, climate change will likely become the dominant cause of biodiversity loss in the coming decades. Land degradation typically results in biodiversity being lost and is a major contributor to climate change, among others through the release of soil carbon and nitrous oxide. Land degradation and the loss of intact ecosystems also change and disrupt rainfall patterns and exacerbate extreme weather like droughts or floods thus amplifying the impacts of climate change. None of these three global challenges can be effectively addressed in a siloed manner. Climate, biodiversity and land targets – the targets of the three Rio conventions, UNFCCC, CBD and UNCCCD, as well as the 2030 Agenda – hence can only be achieved together.
In this side event, we will explore the potential of Nature-Based Solutions (NbS) in connecting and implementing the Climate, Biodiversity and Land Conventions, with a particular focus on how land restoration and agroecology can serve as a bridge between the conventions and explore the opportunities and challenges in strengthening women’s roles as initiators and agents of change.
Women as Agents of Change
Agroecological approaches emphasize the importance of promoting biodiversity in agricultural landscapes. By promoting the cultivation of diverse crops and native plant species, agroecology not only strengthens food security, but also protects local biodiversity and endangered species. In addition, these practices sequester carbon in the soil, mitigating agriculture's impact on climate change.
Women make up about 43% of the world's agricultural workforce. They have demonstrated remarkable leadership in the adoption and expansion of agroecological practices that enhance climate change resilience and biodiversity conservation. And their active participation in agroforestry, sustainable water management, and seed conservation has resulted in tangible benefits for ecosystems and communities. Women, particularly in rural communities, have a deep understanding of the environment and possess invaluable traditional knowledge that can contribute to agroecological practices. Their close connection to the land, plants, and animals makes them custodians of biodiversity and promoters of climate-resilient farming practices.
In addition, women's contributions extend beyond the fields. At least 40% of SMEs in sub-Saharan Africa are women owned. Female entrepreneurship has been on the rise across the region, particularly in green businesses that can contribute to nature-based solutions. We know that women are highly motivated to make a difference in natural resource management and in business development. They actively engage in knowledge-sharing networks, advocate for policy change, and promote locally led initiatives to address climate change and protect biodiversity.
Strengthening women’s involvement and leadership potential not only leads to improved livelihoods and food security, but also drives positive social change in their communities.
Despite this, women have historically faced numerous barriers in accessing resources, knowledge, and decision-making power in the agricultural sector. And in sub-Saharan Africa, only 37% of women have a bank account, compared with 48% of men. Just 20% of women-owned SMEs report access to institutional finance, a funding gap of about US$ 42 billion.
Role of the Rio Conventions for food systems transformation
The UN system and the conventions are increasingly recognizing the role of food systems in solving the global crises we currently face. The CBD underscores the sustainable management of agriculture and the preservation of agrobiodiversity within food systems, as contributing to food security, resilience, long-term efficiency and productivity. The UNFCCC acknowledges the significance of climate-smart practices within food systems, considering their dual role as contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and vulnerable entities to climate change impacts. The UNCCD recognizes the vital role of sustainable land management, particularly within food systems, as a potent tool for combating land degradation and restoring degraded lands. A food system lens is thus necessary for countries in the design, revision and implementation of their national action frameworks, that can uphold, multiple-benefits such as biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation and adaptation, land restoration and food security, contributing to a more resilient and equitable future.
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