4 per mille statement from Research institutions

To support the French 4‰ initiative 10 top research institutes drafted a statement in support of the French proposal. Wageningen UR was one of the participating research institutes.

On the 30th November 2015, at the Cirad headquarters in Paris, heads of INRA, CIRAD, IRD and the CGIAR Consortium presented the “4 per mille” initiative to 8 representatives of various national and international research organizations. All the participants to this meeting expressed their support to the objectives of this initiative and their willingness to engage in further discussion on this matter.

Climate change is impacting the livelihood of many. The agricultural sector is particularly vulnerable, affecting especially the world’s poorest people. Under these adverse conditions, the world is facing a growing demand for agricultural products to serve future generations. The adaptation potential of agriculture is high, but agriculture also can play a central role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is this notion that is at the base of the 4 per mille initiative, which intends to counteract climate change via innovative agricultural systems. These systems will sequester carbon, mitigating climate change and contributing to adaptation through the increase of soil quality. To achieve such innovative agricultural systems the engagement of researchers in building evidence, designing the trajectories for transitions, and interfacing with policy makers, are key. Concerted actions are needed to develop global research programs and to align research, and we call upon the research community to join forces to address this challenge.

Soil management is considered a priority issue, since:

  • soils are the basis for food production;
  • increasing soil carbon stocks will enhance soil fertility and agricultural production;
  • increasing soil-carbon stocks through farming practices will help reducing the carbon concentration in the atmosphere;
  • farming practices that enhance soil-carbon will also contribute positively to other important ecosystem services.

To capitalize on the promise of soil management and carbon sequestration, science-based transition pathways need to be explored and developed. This calls for a network of public, private and non-governmental actors, necessary to create engagement and momentum. It calls for international science co-operation through the implementation of a new interinstitutional initiative that looks at:

  • the mechanisms and the assessment of the potential for carbon storage in soils across regions and farming systems, taking regional variations into account;
  • performance evaluation of best farming practices for soil carbon and their impact on other greenhouse gases, on food security and possible trade-offs with other regulation and production services;
  • the support of innovation and its promotion by appropriate policies, by taking into account the socio-economic context, designing incentive systems to promote sequestration and the policy domain conducive for the development and implementation of innovative production systems;
  • monitoring and estimating variations in soil carbon stocks, especially at farm level.

To address the need for an organized contribution from the academia, including National Agricultural Research and Innovations Systems from high, medium and low-income countries, research institutions leaders convened in Paris on 30th November 2015 on the occasion of the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the UNFCCC in Paris. They agreed it is timely to jointly mobilize recent advances in soil science and further explore the potential for international research and action collaboration in this area. They engage in identifying within a 6 months perspective:

  • partners who would join the initiative and design the appropriate governance structure, taking into account existing initiatives;
  • the strategic framework and priority setting in the program;
  • the resources to be mobilized and pooled together, both from their own resources and from donors;
  • the interaction and mechanisms that should be promoted and implemented between the academia and policymakers.

The conclusions of the present Statement will be channeled to the launching of the “4 per 1000: Soils for food security and climate” Initiative on 1st December 2015 at the COP21. On the basis of the above statement, research institution leaders encourage policy makers to join the Initiative and to devote significantly increased funds and support to it.