Working groups
The conference will address three overarching themes that are considered to be crucial in achieving the triple win.
 

Theme 1: Sustainable intensification and climate smart solutions - enhancing food production while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

More food is needed in the decades to come. Since the global potential to increase farmland without jeopardizing our environment is limited, intensification of production on existing agricultural land will be a major target. This challenge needs to be achieved under shifting conditions, while at the same time mitigating greenhouse gas effects. New agronomic practices and adapted crops are powerful tools to meet the challenge, and are topic of the two sub themes.
 

Theme 1a: Balancing yield and ecological potential for sustainable production: Soil, water, nutrient and livestock management

Agro-ecological theory states that potential yields of any crop are generally not achieved because of limiting factors like the often scarce availability of water and nutrients. This is one of the causal factors of the yield gap. Contrary to the situation in many developed countries, this yield gap is large in most developing countries, and closing the yield gap is considered as one of the best options to improve productivity. However, practices in developed countries demonstrate that closing the yield gap at all costs tends to be not sustainable. Therefore optimizing yield in balance with the ecological potential of the production area rather than maximizing yield at all costs is the challenge we are facing. An important element is the role of livestock. Livestock is an integral part of many agro-production systems, affecting the livelihood of the rural population, and interacting with soil, water and nutrient management. Another challenge is to conserve the resource base and make better use of biodiversity in conferring resilience and adaptive capacity of agroecosystems to climate change. Here diversity does make a difference, as farmers need more options for production and income diversification. This working group focuses on agronomic interventions that will help to achieve a sustainable intensification of production areas.

 
Conveners: Paul Kiepe (CGIAR),  Robert Zougmoré (CGIAR), Tony Simons (ICRAF),  Lijbert Brussaard (Wageningen UR)
 

Theme 1b: Breeding for a 2030 world

In addition to the above mentioned limiting factors as a cause for the yield gap, reducing factors further decrease the actual yield. These factors like pests, diseases and weed further increase the yield gap. While agronomic interventions may help to diminish the effect of reducing factors, genetic solutions are often considered to be especially powerful. Resistant varieties of any crop may well decrease losses both in the production phase and during post-harvest. However, breeding new varieties is expensive and time consuming. As a consequence, improved seed will be more expensive than current seed and requires a formal seed-supply system. In addition, a the powerful tool of genetic modification is under public debate in Europe as well as in Africa.
Besides plant breeding, animal breeding will play a crucial role in feeding the world. The demand for livestock products will increase while countries develop, and high quality products, produced in a sustainable way, are necessary. Genomic and genetic research will help to meet this challenge. This working group focuses on the genetic interventions that will help to achieve a sustainable intensification of production areas. Apart of identifying technological options, specific attention is needed for approaches for actually capitalizing on the promise of genetic improvements (i.e. barriers to access to and issues related to uptake of improved organisms, issues related to the uptake of, regionally-appropriate investments, meeting subsistence as well commercial needs).
 
Conveners: Tanguy Lafarge (CIRAD) and Martin van Ittersum (Wageningen UR)
 
 

Theme 2: Overcoming the barriers to climate-smart agriculture

New climate smart approaches are crucial for more efficient, sustainable and robust production systems. Combining various approaches in coherent systems is needed to deal with competing claims for scarce production factors. Integrated systems are needed. New systems and approaches need to be embedded in a supporting institutional setting to become effective. Assessing these institutions is therefore a key issue in implementing climate smart interventions.
 
 

Theme 2a: Assessing institutions to support adoption of climate smart agricultural practices

New practices need to fit the practice of the rural communities and policies at different scales, and they need a conducive environment like functional markets. In short: the institutions must support the use of new practices, and new practices must be developed in view of the specific needs of the rural community. This working group will focus on issues like the socio-economic consequences of the introduction of new practices, the socio-economic conditions needed to embed new practices and institutions needed to link climate finance to smallholder agriculture. Focus could be on the state of knowledge, on the evidence of the actual costs and barriers to adoption at the household level or on the enabling institutions necessary to lower transactions costs, reduce barriers and provide needed incentives for adoption - including through risk management and identifying key gaps in the research.
 
Conveners: Leslie Lipper (FAO) and Peter Oosterveer (Wageningen UR)
 

Theme 2b: Greenhouse gas foot printing: promise or peril?

There is a global concern for greenhouse gas emissions. Agriculture is considered as one of the major contributors due to the release of nitrous oxide from agricultural soils and emissions of methane from livestock and rice production, or to other factors like the release of CO2 as result of indirect land-use changes. The exact contribution, however, of agriculture in GHG emissions and carbon sequestration is uncertain. Improvements are needed, including through the use of innovative instruments like remote sensing applications for large areas, to assess the role of agriculture and to determine the effect of different interventions. In addition, the precision/accuracy needed for different types of information needs is still an open debate. This working group focuses the technical possibilities to assess and mitigate GHG-emissions in production systems and to explore if investments in maximizing precision / accuracy are truly needed (ie, clarify which types of knowledge is critical for decision making and accounting).
 
Chair: Cecile de Klein (Invermay Agricultural Centre, New Zealand)
Conveners: Jac Meijs (Wageningen UR) and Peter Kuikman (Wageningen UR)

 

Theme 3: Managing volatility and risks - technical and socio-economic options for climate-smart risk management

Climate change is expected to increase extreme weather conditions. Longer periods of draught or flooding, for example, are expected in many global regions. This will increase the volatility in yields and consequently in prices and farm income, increasing risks for farmers. Managing these volatility and risks is a key issue in achieving a sustainable climate smart agriculture. Predicting risks and volatilities depends on reliable information. Collecting and processing these data is therefore crucial for decision makers and is a key issue for managing risks.
 

Theme 3a: Climate risk management in Agriculture

Extreme weather conditions will have a serious effect on vulnerable production systems and increase the risk on disappointing yields. This risk must be managed, for example by more robust production systems or better forecasts for farmers at a variety of time scales. Risk management is broader than crop and animal production systems alone. Greater resilience of the livelihoods of the rural poor are at stake. This implies that technical and social domains (e.g. insurance) need to be considered, emphasizing not only the dynamics in each domain but the nature and dynamics of their linkages. This working group will focus on the social, economic and technological options and their inter linkage for a higher resilience of resource systems.
 
Conveners: Natasha Grist (CDKN)
 

Theme 3b: Integrated feed-food-energy systems

According to the FAO, the food production has to increase with 70% over the coming decades to serve a growing population with a shifting diet. This increase will be plant-based, but with a shifting diet increasingly also livestock-based. This is an enormous challenge. This challenge is seriously aggravated when the need for alternative uses of biomass will increase considerably. The food, feed or fuels discussion launched heated debates at academic, political and societal levels. The focus of this working group will be on identifying what is known conceptually and based on pilot implementation and on the essential elements of integrated feed-food-energy systems (where have they worked, what are their current and future limitations, what scientific questions are outstanding, what further pilot activities would be beneficial?).
 
Conveners: Anne Bogdanski (FAO) and Prem Bindraban (ISRIC)
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