The event addressed the agriculture sector’s potential in advancing Paris Agreement implementation through a technological revolution.
Alma Cardenas, Senior Programme Manager, Artificial Intelligence AI for Earth, Microsoft, said the digital revolution has led to mitigation and adaptation solutions.
FAO has finalized the first digital land restoration map for Africa, revealing the extent of degraded areas and how to restore them.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) convened an event to discuss the ways in which cutting-edge technological and digital innovations can help meet climate-related targets in the agriculture and forestry sectors. The event titled, ‘Promoting a Digital Revolution to Increase Climate Action in the Agriculture and Forestry Sectors,’ was held during the 2019 UN Climate Change Conference in Madrid, Spain, on 12 December. It presented the agriculture sector’s potential in advancing Paris Agreement implementation through a technological revolution.
Panelists emphasized that reducing emissions while increasing yields in the agriculture sector requires enhancing mitigation, adaptation and resilience, which can all be driven by technology. For example, Alma Cardenas, Senior Programme Manager, Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Earth, Microsoft, said the digital revolution has led to mitigation and adaptation solutions, highlighting, inter alia: sensors in farms to provide real time information on soil conditions; weather forecast algorithms to provide guidance on when to sow or harvest; and drones that collect information for digital mapping to guide irrigation or fertilization.
René Castro, Assistant Director-General, FAO, announced that FAO has finalized the first digital land restoration map for Africa. It reveals the extent of degraded areas and shows areas that can be restored as well as how. He said that such maps will be replicated for Latin America and Asia in 2020.
Panelists and participants also pointed to:
- the Participatory Integrated Climate Services for Agriculture approach, which helps farmers visualize the state of their farms through predictive modeling;
- a project in Belize that has permitted tracing fisheries resources from ocean to table, enabling decisions on fishing quotas;
- an online tool used in Brazil to identify areas for expansion of soy farming while minimizing environmental impacts;
- the need for food traceability along the whole supply chain, and transparency to both farmers and consumers;
- digitization to encourage youth involvement in smallholder farming, noting that greater investment in infrastructure can prevent rural-to-urban migration; and
- training local communities to promote ownership of both the challenges and solutions.
The shared experiences from the event will feed into public policy briefings on facilitating the technological and digital revolution for sustainable and resilient agriculture. These will be disseminated to agriculture ministries at the FAO Regional Conferences in 2020. [IISD RS Coverage of the Side Event] [FAO Website]
IISD Reporting Services is providing coverage of selected side events during the UN Climate Change Conference in Madrid, which met through 13 December.