Better agricultural production and trade – learning from forest governance mechanisms

Agriculture and forests are often linked in the deforestation debates. But are differently approached when it comes to climate change debates. Generally speaking, forests relate to biodiversity and mitigation issues. Agriculture looks mostly at adaptation issues and food security. This makes it a challenge to develop effective policy mechanism for sustainable production of agriculture in particular regarding the demand side of agricultural production.

The question is: can agriculture learn from forests? Looking at forest governance mechanisms such as FLEGT (Forest Governance and Trade) and REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation), we see that they do not only address biodiversity conservation but also issues of governance, illegality and sustainable development. By doing so, these mechanisms cover the wider scope of sustainability and biodiversity conservation. For example, FLEGT includes the combination of legislation on import (via the EUTR) and voluntary partnerships (VPAs). By including different policy aspects (laws and voluntary guidelines), the impact of a policy mechanism increases.

Besides the specific policies, biodiversity monitoring have improved the technical possibilities to measure GHG emissions. An important part of REDD+ is the monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of carbon accounting. In MRV, satellite images or laser scanning have become commonly used technologies to check biodiversity and have had a big impact on the MRV segment of REDD+. These technologies can be applied to more precisely track and trace the sustainable production of agricultural products.

Finally, recent increase of zero-deforestation pledges in the private sector shows the possibilities of further linking agriculture with with forests.

This blog reflects for a part the results of a study on demand side policy for better agricultural production issued by WWF-NL, 2015.