Sustainable agriculture and land use are critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and objectives of the Paris Agreement. The 2019 IPCC land-use report sets out the critical role that sustainable land use must play in climate mitigation and building resilience. The 2019 IPBES report warns of a pending collapse of nature, with land use change identified as the main driver. We need a food systems and land use revolution on the same scale of the transition to clean energy. A revolution with people, planet and prosperity at its heart.
The COP26 Nature Campaign aims to raise the profile of this agenda, building on the Just Rural Transition (JRT) launched at the UN Climate Action Summit and providing a platform to highlight actions that leading countries are taking to deliver change. The Government is delivering on the building and securing political ambition through several pillars of the campaign through:
Defra continues to position the UK’s commitment to sustainable agriculture through Government Trade Dialogues and Free Trade Agreement negotiations. Defra also runs a number of Agricultural Dialogues with partner countries which provide opportunities to share UK values on environmental and sustainability issues by exchanging policy and best practice on sustainable agriculture and supply chains in light of the UK’s Due Diligence legislation. Collaboration through dialogues such as these are key to promoting the UK’s environmental objectives while assisting overseas trading partners in achieving the transition to a low carbon economy.
Defra’s International Climate Finance (ICF) contributions enable the UK to meet international commitments on the environment by supporting developing countries promote sustainable livelihoods and low carbon agriculture. For example, since 2012, the UK has invested £62 million to promote sustainable agriculture in Brazil through the Low Carbon Agriculture (LCA) Programme. Phase I of the LCA brought 46,472 hectares of land under sustainable land management and resulted in over 8.9 Mt of avoided greenhouse gas emissions.
Defra is also playing a key role in catalysing the private sector to support environmentally sustainable land-use. Through its ICF, Defra has invested in the Land Degradation Neutrality fund and Eco.Business Fund, impact investment funds which seek to encourage private sector investment in more sustainable production and consumption practices to protect nature and reduce climate change.
The UK has committed to increase finance for nature through its ICF to at least £3bn from 2021 to 2026. The Government is also currently considering the findings of Professor Dasgupta’s landmark review of the economics of biodiversity and will respond in Spring 2021.