Land Use: Agriculture, Forestry, Waste Management
Question: How can we scale-up sustainable landscape & waste management to significantly reduce emissions while ensuring food, water & energy security?
Deadline: Sunday, Sep 10, 2017 at 18:00:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time
Judging Criteria & Prizes: See below.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), agriculture, livestock, forestry, and other land use are responsible for 24% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Waste management accounts for an important part of overall industry emissions which are estimated to be 21% of total GHG emissions. Opportunities exist, however, for improved land use to reduce and/or sequester significant amounts of GHGs from the atmosphere while creating more resilient landscapes that increase food security, water availability, energy supply, and human well-being and resilience. As demonstrated by the Paris Agreement adopted at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21), many governments have indicated that improved land use management will play a central part in their strategies to address climate change.
This contest seeks proposals on sustainable land use and waste management practices that can be effectively implemented and brought to scale, in order to address the challenges of global climate change.
For example, some proposals may address the following questions:
- What are the barriers to reducing emissions in agriculture, livestock, forestry, or waste management, and how might these barriers be overcome?
- How can the implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) achieve the global adoption of sustainable land use practices?
- What solutions would reduce emissions while also providing benefits in terms of economic and social development (i.e. food and nutrition security, rural livelihoods, etc.) in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals?
- How can climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies be designed to increase food sovereignty and address social justice issues related to land use?
- How can we learn from indigenous and/or traditional land use management practices to mitigate the impacts of climate change for future generations?
- How can Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) projects be designed to address individual and community behavior change and sustainability?
- How can REDD+ projects be scaled up and/or nested into jurisdictional landscape programs?
- How can the potential sources of finance (e.g. the Green Climate Fund, Forest Bonds, Global Environment Facility, private sector investment, impact investing, etc.) best be used for sustainable land use and/or landscape management?
- What are creative ways to leverage the private sector for sustainable financing of improved land use strategies and projects?
- How can countries, institutions, and/or communities get the tools and financing they need to implement local, regional, and/or national landscape restoration projects?
- How can contributions to mitigating or adapting to climate change be monitored and verified efficiently?
- How will mitigation actions in agriculture, livestock, forestry, or waste management affect GHG emissions over different timescales? What co-benefits are associated with these mitigation actions?
- How can new business models (such as SunEdison’s approach to the solar photovoltaic industry) scale-up sustainable landscape management?
- What are strategies for feeding the world using sustainable livestock practices (e.g. organic, free-range livestock) instead of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs)?
- How can initiatives such as 20x20 (aiming to restore 20 million hectares by 2020) be replicated across the globe? How can businesses play an innovative role in improving the scalability and impact of such initiatives (e.g. Asia Pulp and Paper participates in the Bonn Challenge)?
- How can we measure the effectiveness of sustainable supply chain commitments in forestry and agriculture being adopted by companies such as Unilever, Nestle, and General Mills?
Both small-scale and commercial agriculture contribute to the negative impacts of climate change and in unique ways that often require differentiated solutions. Agriculture is a primary source of the three major GHGs (carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxides). At the same time, according to the IPCC, wheat, maize, and rice yields are expected to decline under local temperature increases greater than 2oC. Sustainable agriculture methods, including agroecology, agro-forestry, silviculture, and traditional phased or intercropping methods such as milpa in Central America, can play a large role in decreasing emissions and sequestering carbon dioxide. At the same time, these methods can increase agricultural productivity and resilience in the context of changing climate conditions.
Promising climate change mitigation options in the agriculture sector include:
- restoration of cultivated organic soils,
- improved cropland management,
- integrated soil and water conservation,
- nutrient management,
- tillage/residue management,
- water management,
- diversified farming systems,
- improved grazing land management,
- increased landscape productivity,
- and restoration of degraded lands.
About 30 percent of the global land area is covered by forests, totaling nearly 4 billion hectares (ha). Net loss of forestland has decreased in recent years but remains at about 3.3 million ha per year (6), as land is deforested for agriculture and built environments. Emissions from deforestation are approximately 10% (1) of total global CO2 emissions.
Given its impact on mitigating warming temperatures, forest protection and conservation have become important aspects of global emissions reduction strategies. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) program, and the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and Forest Investment Program (FIP), are a few of the larger global initiatives that are defining incentives and carbon-friendly solutions for sustainable development in developing and developed countries.
The New York Declaration on Forests in September 2014 called for halving the rate of loss of natural forests globally by 2020 and striving to end natural forest loss by 2030. It also called for restoring 150 million hectares of degraded landscapes and forestlands by 2020 and significantly increasing the rate of global restoration thereafter, which would restore at least an additional 200 million hectares by 2030.
- More specifically, there are many ways to reduce GHG emissions from sources and/or to increase GHG removals by carbon sinks in the forest sector using strategies ranging from local land management approaches to national and internationally policy. These include:reducing deforestation and forest degradation,
- reforestation and afforestation,
- promoting agro-forestry, Sustainable Forest Management (SFM), and Reduced Impact Logging (RIL) (2),
- promoting and enhancing traditional ecological knowledge in rural communities,
- expanding operations under sustainable forest management certifications (e.g., Forest Stewardship Council),
- increasing landscape level carbon density,
- reducing consumption of deforestation drivers (e.g. palm oil, beef),
- improving the supply chains of commercial agricultural commodities that can drive deforestation (e.g. initiatives under the UNDP Green Commodities Programme) (3), and
- increasing product and fuel substitution, as well as carbon stocks in wood products.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), “the livestock sector is the world’s largest user of agricultural land, through grazing and the use of feed crops” and by 2050, demand for livestock products is expected to increase by 70%. Livestock contribute to deforestation and global climate change as forests are cleared to make way for livestock grazing and grow crops for animal feed. This is particularly harmful when land is cleared in tropical forests which serve as important carbon sinks. Yet, livestock also provide a critical source of protein in regions of low agricultural productivity, addressing important nutrition and food security needs. Furthermore, small-scale production provides livelihoods to many local communities around the world, can be a source of economic empowerment for women and girls, and can be an integral part of local sustainable pastoral and agro-pastoral land management strategies.
Promising climate mitigation options in the livestock sector include:
- promoting land-use for livestock outside of tropical forests,
- sustainable, rotational livestock pastures,
- improved feeding practices,
- animal husbandry and livestock health management,
- integrated crop-livestock systems,
- lowering livestock production and consumption,
- promoting lower-footprint proteins including pulses, insects and aquaculture,
- nutrient capture and recycling in manure management, and wider use of best practices and technologies.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, post-consumer waste contributes approximately 3%of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, primarily from the disposal of solid waste through landfills and incineration without energy recovery emitting CH4, other treatments such as fermentation or composting and of liquid waste through sewage treatment producing CH4 and N2O or wasted water with hazardous chemicals or endocrine disruptors. This contest seeks proposals that can significantly contribute to reducing emissions at any scale (i.e., household through international levels), and from any aspect of waste and waste management:
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), post-consumer waste disposal will account for more than 1.6 gigatons (Gt) carbon dioxide equivalent (Gt CO2-eq) in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2030, 3 percent of the global total. This primarily includes emissions from the disposal of solid waste through landfills that count for more than 90 % of GHG emissions from waste management . This contest seeks proposals that address any aspect of waste management: reducing emissions through better waste water/landfill/incineration practices; using GHGs generated from trash to generate energy, via waste to energy systems, or to extract valuable chemicals; innovative recycling schemes or education program to consumer that reduce the amount of waste; or other initiatives that either reduce consumption patterns or increase the use of recycled content or recyclable/re-usable fabric and materials in new products. Also welcome are new approaches to international policy and accounting.
The IPCC outlines a range of possible strategies for reducing emissions from waste management, including:
- landfilling with landfill gas recovery (reduces CH4 emissions);
- waste minimization and post-consumer recycling (avoids waste generation and reduces emissions from the production process);
- composting of selected waste fractions (avoids GHG generation); and recovery of biodegradable waste and
- processes that reduce GHG generation compared to landfilling (thermal processes including incineration, pyrolysis and industrial co-combustion, Mechanical Biological Treatment or MBT with landfilling of residuals, and anaerobic digestion).
We welcome proposals that address waste management and water treatment and their impacts and GHG emissions by implementing new strategies or technologies. On a national level, there is significant opportunity for countries to develop their own strategies that reduce emissions associated with waste and its management. The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) has outlined the framework and rationale behind national-level strategies in their guidelines.
Judges will be asked to evaluate proposals on the following criteria:
Feasibility of the actions proposed in the proposal. Judges with different kinds of expertise will evaluate the technical, economic, social, and political feasibility of the proposals.
Novelty of the proposal's ideas. Innovative thinking and originality in a proposal will be valued more than encyclopedic knowledge. In addition, instead of selecting a roster of Finalists that are very similar, judges will try to select a group of proposals that represent a diverse range of approaches.
Impact on climate change (for example, for mitigation actions, the amount of greenhouse gas emission reductions or for adaptation actions, the extent to which the actions counteract the effects of climate change) and desirability of other impacts (e.g. economic, social, lifestyle)
Presentation quality. Proposals that are well-presented will be favored over those that aren't. Presentation quality includes how well written a proposal is, how well it uses graphics or other visual elements, and how compelling are its artistic representations of possible future worlds (if any).
Winning proposals will be especially strong in at least one of the first three dimensions, and also well presented.
Judges will evaluate proposals, and deliberate as a group to select the Semi-Finalists, Finalists, Winners, and possibly other awardee(s) at their discretion. Judgments of desirability are also made in the final stage of the contest, by the Climate CoLab community through popular vote, and by the Judges through their selection of the Judges' Choice winner(s).
Top proposals in each contest will be awarded...
Judges’ Choice Award -- Two proposals* will be selected by the Judges to receive the Judges' Choice-- one project, and one practice.
Popular Choice Award – Received the most votes during the public voting period.
The Judges’ Choice Award and Popular Choice Award Winners will be invited to MIT (see prior Climate CoLab Conferences), join the Climate CoLab winners’ alumni, and be eligible for the $10,000 Grand Prize—to be selected from among the winners across contests.
All award Winners and Finalists will receive wide recognition and platform visibility from MIT Climate CoLab. Climate CoLab or its collaborators may offer additional awards or recognition at their discretion.
* Judges’ Choice Award(s) are allocated at the Judging panel’s discretion. In rare cases, the Judges may choose not to select awardees.
Resources for Proposal Authors
- Bobeck, M. (2010). Organic Household Waste in Developing Countries: An overview of environmental and health consequences, and appropriate decentralized technologies and strategies for sustainable management. Mittuniversitetet. Retrieved from miun.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:321886/FULLTEXT01.pdf.
- Climate Change News. (2016). Paris tracker: Who pledged what for 2015UN climate pact?. Climate Change News. Retrieved from http://www.climatechangenews.com/2015/03/10/paris-tracker-who-has-pledged-what-for-2015-un-climate-pact/.
- EDF, CGIAR & CPWF. (2012).Water, Food and Energy Nexus. EDF Group & CPWF. Retrieved from waterandfood.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Water-Food-Energy-Nexus.pdf.
- FAO. (2007). Adaptation to Climate Change in Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries: perspective, framework and priorities. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Retrieved from www.fao.org/nr/climpag/pub/adaptation_to_climate_change_2007.pdf.
- FAO. (2015). Livestock and the environment. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Retrieved from www.fao.org/livestock-environment/en/.
- FAO. (2015). Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Retrieved from www.fao.org/3/a-i4793e.pdf.
- Godfray, H. C. J., et al. (2010). Food Security: The Challenge of Feeding 9 Billion People. Science 327(5967): 812-818.
- ITTO. (2017). Sustainable Forest Management. International Tropical Timber Organization. Retrieved from www.itto.int/sustainable_forest_management/.
- IUNC. (n.d.). Publications. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved from https://www.iucn.org/resources.
- IPCC (2014). Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Working Group III Contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. IPCC. Retrieved from www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg3/.
- IPCC.(2006). Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, Waste. IPCC. Retrieved from www.ipcc-nggip.iges.or.jp/public/2006gl/vol5.html.
- Steenwerth et al. (2014). Climate-smart agriculture global research agenda: scientific basis for action. Agriculture & Food Security, 3(11).
- UNDP. (2017). Green Commodities Programme. UNDP. Retrieved from www.undp.org/content/gcp/en/home/operations/overview.html.
- UNEP & WRAP. (2014). Prevention and reduction of food and drink waste in businesses and households. UNEP & WRAP. Retrieved from www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/save-food/PDF/Guidance-content.pdf.
- UNEP. (2013). Guidelines for National Waste Management Strategies: Moving from Challenges to Opportunities . UNEP. Retrieved from wedocs.unep.org/handle/20.500.11822/8669.
- UNEP. (2015). Illegally Traded and Dumped E-Waste Worth up to $19 Billion Annually Poses Risks to Health, Deprives Countries of Resources, Says UNEP Report. UNEP. Retrieved from www.unep.org/newscentre/illegally-traded-and-dumped-e-waste-worth-19-billion-annually-poses-risks-health-deprives-countries.
- UNEP. (2015). Waste Crime – Waste Risks: Gaps in Meeting the Global Waste Challenge. UNEP. Retrieved from www.unep.org/ourplanet/september-2015/unep-publications/waste-crime-waste-risks-gaps-meeting-global-waste-challenge-rapid.
- World Bank. (2007). Climate change adaptation in Africa: a microeconomic analysis of livestock choice. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 4277. Retrieved from elibrary.worldbank.org/doi/book/10.1596/1813-9450-4277.
- World Bank. (2012). What a Waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management, Chapter 3:Waste Generation. World Bank. Retrieved from web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTURBANDEVELOPMENT/0,,contentMDK:23172887~pagePK:210058~piPK:210062~theSitePK:337178,00.html.
- World Bank. (2015). Next Steps for Climate Action in Cities after COP21. World Bank. Retrieved from www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2015/12/22/next-steps-for-climate-action-in-cities-after-cop21.
- World Resources Institute. (2014). Global Forest Watch Map. World Resources Institute. Retrieved from www.globalforestwatch.org/about/gfw.
- World Resources Institute. (2014). Building National Forest and Land-Use Information Systems: Lessons from Cameroon, Indonesia, and Peru. World Resources Institute. Retrieved from www.wri.org/publication/building-national-forest-and-land-use-information-systems.