by Fred Pearce
With the start of Global Soil Week on 27 October, The World Bank’s Maurizio Guadagni has plenty to share about the importance of healthy soils to improve our agricultural systems. He is connected to the initiative Bridging Agriculture and Conservation led by Bioversity International, which is a member of the CGIAR Consortium and WLE partner.
Soils are the forgotten ecosystem service, says Maurizio Guadagni, rural development specialist at the World Bank. But he is out to change that. For him they are the key to food security, to biodiversity protection and especially to mitigating and adapting to climate change.
Guadagni is connected to the new Bridging Agriculture and Conservation Initiative, launched in Brazil in July by Bioversity International with global partners. His pitch is for soils to be at the heart of “climate-smart agriculture”.
Since publishing a report called Turn Down The Heat last November, which probed a possible world four degrees warmer, the Bank “has significantly increased its focus on climate change,” Guadagni says. “Our new President Jim Yong Kim is giving a lot of attention to the issue and to the links with agriculture, a topic that is dear to me.”
With this increased focus on climate change, said Guadagni, the Bank will be building on and scaling up its work in this area. “We are looking to invest in agriculture and climate change. My particular interest is soil,” he says. Improved soils can capture carbon to slow climate change, and hold water to improve agriculture’s adaptability to the extremes of climate change.
Agriculture is a central part of the problem of climate change, he says. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changes estimates that 14 per cent of carbon emissions come from farming. That figure doubles if clearance of forests for farming is included.
But agriculture is the solution, too. “Jointly, agriculture and forestry have more potential to mitigate climate change than the energy sector,” he says.