Human and Planetary health is at tremendous risk. The strategies for transition to net zero emissions, becoming nature positives and contributing to an equitable society is going off track and the world is reaching the tipping points. According to the Global Risk report 2021, the extremities of weather, biodiversity losses and the failure to act on climate problems are the top global risks identified. Sustainable ways of production and minimizing losses are just not merely enough to reduce nature losses. We need to go beyond that, a Nature positive future with a regenerative mindset.
Nature is declining at an unprecedented rate and the human footprint on this planet has had an important impact on nature. The Covid crisis impacted millions of lives disrupting their livelihoods and health. Unsustainable production and consumption practices put the entire food ecosystem at risk. Nevertheless, the crisis showed how important it is to drive resilience in our food supply chains and accelerate efforts to put nature in the limelight.
80% of biodiversity loss is driven by three sectors, food, land and ocean use, energy and infrastructure. The need to identify and mitigate nature losses is imperative.
15 transitions in the three socio-economic systems could deliver $10.1 trillion of annual business opportunities and 395 million jobs by 2030
Key natural ecosystems are heading towards irreversible tipping points with dangerous consequences for the stability of our planet.
Nature losses threatens over half of global GDP and affects human lives and their wellbeing. The climate crisis is linked to the nature crisis, and it needs to be addressed simultaneously for a carbon neutral and nature positive future. Nature- based solutions can increase the resilience of businesses and livelihoods.
What is a Nature Positive approach?
Transforming food systems is a key to reduce biodiversity loss and achieving the sustainable development goals. This requires a shift to farming with biodiversity to achieve nature positive production rather than maximizing production at the cost of nature.
Nature positive is a philosophy that drives values for a healthier future. It is based on regeneration and resilience and is extremely important. About half of habitable land on our planet is used for farming, resulting in one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emission and ecosystem disruption. Farming, fishing and deforestation has reduced the resilience of the biosphere. The planetary boundaries are being exceeded leading to a climate emergency. A nature positive approach contributes to addressing these challenges and reversing nature’s destruction by 2030.
Nature positive movement is gaining ground with more than 700 businesses having laid goals for necessary actions. Actionable targets need to be set with equitable management of water, nitrogen and carbon cycles. This goal complements the agreed global climate target of net zero emissions by 2050. The 1.5˚C line is critical and cutting emissions along with protecting natural sinks is inevitable. Transformation in the agriculture sector is crucial to achieve this. It can be also stated that organizations should not destroy nature in one place and restore elsewhere, leading to allegations of greenwashing.
“What gets measured gets managed and science-based targets are a must.”
Transforming the Food, Land and Ocean use system
Diversity of life needs to thrive, and this is possible by sparing large areas of land and water and leaving it undisturbed. The footprint of farming and fishing is today unsustainable and there is an urgent need to restore both terrestrial and marine ecosystems.
The food and land systems need to shift to regenerative agriculture. Transforming farming practices with technology and digital technologies should increase biodiversity, enrich soils and improve water management and crop yields. Healthy and productive oceans can also be realized with sustainable fisheries. Sustainable and healthy aquaculture, replenishing overexploited fish stocks will help in rejuvenating the marine ecosystems. Sustainable management of forests is another critical issue. Agroforestry contributes to biodiversity, stores carbon and provides water and nutrients for crop growth.
In order to protect nature and restore the ecosystems, the biodiversity hotspots need to be prevented from being converted to farming lands and fishing. This is vital to build resilience in nature’s land and ocean use. The conservation of forests, mangroves and peatlands should contribute to mitigating the negative impacts of climate. There is a need to reduce the footprint of agriculture and fishing on ecosystems. The smallholder farmers and communities need to contribute to preserve natural resources, grow food sustainably and build harmony with nature.
Agriculture production is driving deforestation and the world’s largest biodiversity will soon disappear. The decreased catch in traditional fishing grounds are paving way for targeting new species down the ocean, disrupting the marine life. Halting deforestation and reducing forest degradation is a must for climate change mitigation.
Transforming production to higher productivity lands can reduce the need for agriculture land by 600 million hectares by 2050
Ocean based carbon mitigation can also reduce the gaps in decarbonization levels. The transition towards planet compatible consumption could overcome a number of challenges in solving this crisis. Dietary shifts towards safer and nutritious foods, consumption of affordable and environmentally friendly products and minimizing wastage should impact the effects on nature.
Towards Regenerative Agriculture
Regenerative agriculture and farming practices improves yields and enhances the health of surrounding ecosystem. Regenerative practices enhance soil fertility, reduces use of pesticides and fertilizers thereby reducing negative impacts. Agronomic solutions for increased crop yields and carbon sequestration are few of the positive practices. The usage of bio-pesticides, organic fertilizers to reduce the nitrogen content, crop rotation, reduced tillage, reduction in water usage and use of biochar are a few strategies adopted. The farmers could be incentivized with carbon credits depending on the amount of carbon sequestered.
About 3 billion people rely on wild caught seafood as their primary source of protein and the global share of protein obtained from fisheries could rise to 11% in 2030. 33% of fish stocks are being fished at unsustainable levels. The catch volume is expected to increase by 24% by 2030.
The fish being produced by aquaculture needs to be sustainable in terms of productivity and environmental impact. Disease management, Antibiotic usage needs to be regulated, scale sustainable feeds and improve production sites prevents pollution.
Mangrove destruction results in a kilogram of farmed shrimp to emit 4 times the GHG emissions as a kilogram of beef.
Seaweed or mollusc farming is a regenerative way of growing.
290 million hectares of forest was lost between 1990 and 2015. Wood harvesting for paper and lumber products are the primary forest activities. Over 2 billion people still rely on wood fuel for their energy requirements. Conserving and managing forests, reducing deforestation and increasing afforestation are critical to battle climate change.
Natural forest management estimates that carbon savings could be 535 million tonnes annually by 2030.
Planet- friendly Consumption
Animal products occupy 80% of farmland and accounts for 58% of GHGs, providing only 18 % of calories
Impact of Dietary shifts
Reduction in GHGs by 25%
Reduction in Eutrophication by 21%
Reduction in land use by 17.6%
Impact of shifting from meat to fish would save 60 to 80 million hectares of cropland.
Reduction in 30 % of food waste during consumption could save 40 million hectares of cropland.
Textile waste generates $500 billion in economic losses. Using high value low impact raw materials like organic cotton can boost a circular economy.
Technology for Transparency and Sustainability
The transformation of how food is produced and consumed including seafood and forestry products need the support of transparent and sustainable supply chains. Integrating traceability and collaboration in supply chains can improve sustainable sourcing, eliminate fraud, improve food quality and safety, reduce food loss and ensure that all the stakeholders are accountable and can make informed decisions for responsible production. Technology and data driven analytics in the value chain right from sourcing, processing, reporting and control can transform management of agriculture and seafood supply chain. Traceability solutions assure food safety to win consumer trust, optimizes supply chain reducing food losses and validates sourcing claims.
Agriculture and seafood supply chains are complex and lack transparency and standardization. The lack of visibility in these supply chains make it vulnerable and consumers are left uncertain as regards safety and authenticity of products. About 70 % of food loss occurs even before the food reaches the consumer and the post-harvest losses are a challenge to the growers and the planet. Illegal forestry, illegal fishing are causes of food insecurity.
Blockchain traceability solutions prove to be game changers in transformation of food and agriculture supply chains. The decentralised, immutable digital ledgers on a collaborative platform ensures seamless exchange of data among stakeholders in the value chain to realize a quality and sustainable product.
Nature climate solutions are proven ways of reducing carbon emissions and storing carbon. Designing net zero, nature positive solutions should improve the economic and environmental stability and enable people to live healthier lives.
Bayer has adopted climate-smart practices for an on-farm revenue stream by incentivizing farmers with carbon credits. Shell believes that climate solutions can contribute to the zero emission targets. Nestle uses the approach to restore ecosystems and preserve water resources. Unilever as a part of its commitment has adopted afforestation strategies.
A common framework with transparency and authenticity forming the key with science-based targets and capture of ESG metrics should accelerate the net-zero goals. TraceX’s blockchain powered traceability solutions are drivers to achieving the climate positive movement. The Farm management and Post-harvest ERP together with end to end traceability solutions should provide an holistic solution for decarbonization.
It is time organizations lobby for nature and join this movement of global disruption. A nature positive transformation by building climate resilient supply chains should be the vision to ensure a sustainable, safer and equitable future.