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According to the study, cocoa agroforestry can be an environmentally and economically sustainable activity. Credit: Juan Pablo Marín García

food | water

Sustainable agriculture’s strong links to peace building in Colombia

New research published today shows sustainable agriculture practices can contribute to both climate mitigation and peace building efforts.

In parts of Colombia where conflict is linked to land use, researchers from the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT have discovered that sustainable land-use systems (SLUS) are reducing conflicts.

“In environmental peacebuilding there’s an approach called the contact hypothesis, which says: that contact, or putting conflicting parties together to talk about environmental issues or agricultural practices, typically reduces prejudice, enabling them to have a neutral space for dialogue, for them to start to create a lasting trust,” explains Héctor Morales-Muñoz, a visiting scholar at the Alliance of Bioversity International.

Workshops held in the Colombian states of César and Caquetá revealed that rolling out models of SLUS, such as cocoa agroforestry, was a good starting point for peace.

“The farmers gained access to knowledge, seeds and different forms of capital and in return they had to conserve part of the forest and this also started a community dialogue process,” he said. “What is also critical, and what no-one was expecting, was that climate mitigation came into the conversation.”

Farmer households in César and Caquetá working in cocoa agroforestry who took part in a survey connected to the study said the systems had ‘increased the spaces for community dialogue’ and ‘decreased disputes’.

“We are planning to scale out the approach to other countries also experiencing conflicts with potential to reduce emissions from the AFOLU (agriculture, forestry and other land uses) sector,” said Augusto Castro-Nuñez, a senior scientist at the Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT.

Castro-Nuñez added that the Caquetá and Cesar study led to the CGIAR initiative called AgriLAC Resiliente, where work to produce research that can better explain the links between climate change mitigation and other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is ongoing.

“This is because although a good deal of the countries with potential for reducing emissions from the land sector are experiencing conflict, and therefore peacebuilding is a development priority, some countries have other development priorities such as biodiversity or improved nutrition,” said Castro-Nuñez said.

The new paper, Integrating climate mitigation and environmental peacebuilding objectives through sustainable land use systems: Theory of change and indicators, was published today in the journal PLoS Climate.

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Written By

Susan is the co-founder of Innovators Magazine and a consultant for OnePoint5Media. Susan is also a member of the UNFCCC-led Resilience Frontiers Nexus group and the Chair of the APOPO Foundation UK board.

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