Conservation Tool

Sustainable Agriculture and Land Health Initiative

Through evidence-based dialogue between the agriculture and conservation sectors, IUCN will promote agroecological and regenerative approaches that restore and conserve biodiversity on farms and in agricultural landscapes. This will contribute to the transition towards thriving production systems, resilient livelihoods, and sustainable societies.

A farmer working his field in Angola A farmer is working his field in Cabina, Angola. Photo: Andre Silva Pinto, Shutterstock

The global population is 7.8 billion people and growing. Population growth and increasing per capita wealth is driving up the demand for food, while demand for biofuel, biomaterials and other commodities place further pressure on agricultural land. Globally we produce enough food for the population of 2050 – some 9 billion people – yet one third of this is lost or wasted. By focusing on food production goals in isolation from other considerations, agriculture has become the leading driver of global land-use change and biodiversity loss (IPBES, 2019), while also contributing malnutrition, exacerbation of inequitable land and resource rights, and other undesirable outcomes.

Sustainable agriculture reduces those threats. Agroecological and regenerative approaches also boost on-farm biodiversity, conserve off-farm biodiversity in agricultural landscapes, mitigate habitat loss due to expansion of farmland, and safeguard long-term viability and resilient productivity for farmers’ natural capital. Land health has proven to be an effective concept for fostering dialogue between actors in the agriculture and conservation sectors. Improving land health through sustainable agriculture is a significant stepping-stone required for transformation of the wider food-agriculture system.

IUCN's goal for the Sustainable Agriculture and Land Health Initiative

This two-year initiative will build commitments for accelerated action towards sustainable agriculture that secures land health as a Nature based Solution to address major societal challenges (food security, climate change, biodiversity loss…). The initiative recognises that the solutions for sustainable agriculture already exist and are practiced on a considerable scale in some countries. The initiative will strengthen awareness on sustainable agriculture and will develop tools and methodologies to support its scaling up and mainstreaming in projects and policies. This initiative will bring together actors from historically adversarial sectors around the table to take ambitious commitments, and will provide methodological support to design action and monitor impacts. By building a common ground over the conservation benefits of sustainable farming, this initiative will also indirectly pave the way for a constructive debate on more controversial issues. 

Main outcomes

1.    International commitments to sustainable agriculture are advanced and monitored through dialogue between conservation and agriculture actors
2.    Scientific evidence of the multiple benefits of sustainable agriculture is communicated widely
3.    An expanded portfolio of sustainable agroecological projects is developed

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