USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics
A sustainable approach to climate-adapted agricultural production
Speaker Bio: Ann M. Bartuska is Deputy Under Secretary for USDA's Research, Education, and Economics (REE) mission area. She came to REE in September 2010 from the USDA Forest Service, where she was Deputy Chief for Research & Development, a position she had held since January 2004. She served as Acting USDA Deputy Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment from January - October of 2009, and was the Executive Director of the Invasive Species Initiative of the Nature Conservancy from 2001-2004. Prior to this, she was the Director of the Forest and Rangelands staff in the Forest Service in Washington, DC.
Abstract: At the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), much of our work is focused on finding solutions to the unprecedented challenges facing the global food and agricultural system. These challenges include producing enough safe and nutritious food for a growing population, adapting to a changing climate, building the bioeconomy, and conserving our natural resources. We recognize that healthy and safe food and water depend on healthy and safe agriculture and natural resources.
Agriculture and natural resources are at the crossroads of the world’s most critical problems. The food system in the United States is critical infrastructure and relies on climate-adapted agricultural production. The increased extreme weather events in the U.S. have forced farmers to actively attempt to grow crops under hotter, drier climate regimes and protect their crops from damage during extreme weather events. Farmers are dealing with seasonal changes in precipitation; increased variation in temperature and precipitation; both among and within years; changes in weather patterns in season; and an increase in temperature and precipitation extremes.
Our approach to dealing with the complexities of a sustainable food and agriculture system recognizes investments need to be made in new and emerging technologies, and promotes open access to data even while accelerating efforts in animal and plant genomics. All of this must be done at a global scale, even as we enhance our domestic efforts. Matching global monitoring of agriculture (e.g. GEOGLAM) and linking to agricultural productivity models that incorporate climate change response (e.g. AgMIP) are important tools for accomplishing our objectives.
USDA continues to make great strides in understanding the effects of climate on agriculture and developing climate-smart agricultural varieties and practices. The Department’s scientific research and technology investments directly support sustainable intensification, or what some call the ‘triple win concept’ of increasing productivity and maintaining resilience, while achieving mitigation.
President, Millennium Institute
Swiss agronomist/entomologist: a leading expert on Biological pest control and sustainable agriculture
How to transition cereal systems from problem to solution to the climate change challenge
Speaker Bio: Hans Herren’s main research and development interests include achievements in holistic, integrated and sustainable agriculture and food systems. He has managed agriculture and bio-science research organizations and is now active at the policy development level. He has been President and CEO of the Millennium Institute USA since May 2005. Additionally: he has been the Chief Executive and Director General 1994-2004 of the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) Kenya; the Director Biological Control Program and Director Plant Health Management Division 1979 to 1994 at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Nigeria; the Coordinator of the Agriculture chapter of the UNEP Green Economy Report, 2011; worked on UNEP Report on the Ecological Bases of Food Security, 2012; Co-Chaired the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), 2003-2009. He received the Laureate of Right Livelihood Award 2013, the World Food Prize 1995, and the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement 2003.
Abstract: Cereal based systems worldwide are of crucial importance to food and nutrition security on a global scale. Their importance however in the contribution to Climate Change has grown exponentially, not only with greater surfaces, but also because of the farming practices that accompanied their global spread. To over reliance on a growing amount of cereal commodities of a fewer number of species and genetic diversity in all cereal producing areas has led to a number of challenges that need to be addressed urgently, at the root causes, should we tackle the multiple challenges posed by this steady move towards simplified and reductionistic systems. There are many great solutions to many of the challenges as we will see and hear about in this symposium. The main issue will be to give a close look at how to implement these solutions respecting the need to address the three dimensions of sustainable development, the environment, society and economy. The trend to simplify and increase the efficiency in the production process has left a trail of problems that a world which has moved beyond many off the planetary boundaries can no longer afford. The vital ecosystem services, upon which our production bases depends, has been replaced by unsustainable, subsidy fueled business options and a reversal of this trend is an urgent necessity to assure the medium and long term production of food, feed and fiber. One will note the absence of the word energy, that is with purpose. As main mechanism to induce and carry out a full transformation, at global scale, of cereal systems, and the linked consumption patterns that have been fueling the present unsustainable production pathways, full cost accounting is seen as the best leverage point. Time is now to introduce regenerative, agroecological agriculture practices across the board, and without delays, the ice is melting, the seas are rising; climate change is knocking at the door, to ignore it would at best be irresponsible, at worst criminal. We have truly sustainable solutions, we have choices, lets make the correct ones, now.
Associate Professor of Environmental Earth System Science, and Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute and the Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University
An 80/20 approach to climate change adaptation in cereal systems
Speaker Bio: David Lobell is an Associate Professor at Stanford University in the Department of Earth System Science, Senior Fellow at the Woods and Freeman Spogli Institutes, and Deputy Director of Stanford’s Center on Food Security and the Environment. His research focuses on identifying opportunities to raise crop yields in major agricultural regions, and uses a combination of big data sets, statistics, and model simulations. He has been recognized with a Macarthur Fellowship in 2013, a McMaster Fellowship from CSIRO in 2014, and the Macelwane Medal from the American Geophysical Union in 2010. He also served as lead author for the food chapter and core writing team member for the Summary for Policymakers in the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report. Dr. Lobell received a Ph.D. in Geological and Environmental Sciences from Stanford in 2005, and a Sc.B. in Applied Mathematics from Brown University in 2000.
Abstract: Much of what is required to improve cereal systems in the face of climate change are the same things that we’d need even if the climate was not changing. These include general needs such as robust breeding and agronomy research capacity, and more specific needs such as improved drought tolerance. Thus, a large fraction (say, 80%) of “adaptation” resources aimed at improving agriculture should focus on these things, as they often represent the most cost-effective investment strategies. At the same time, climate change opens up some unique risks and opportunities -- things we could safely ignore if the climate was not changing. Effective adaptation involves not pitting old needs vs. new needs, but rather identifying the right investments to make in each category. One way to achieve this balance is to focus modeling and experimental work on identifying investments that have significantly higher or lower value in future vs. current climate. Some examples of this type of work will be presented.
Physical Scientist and Director, National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), USA
Transitions and transformations: Climate extremes, hotspots and adaptation in semiarid regions
Speaker Bio: Roger S. Pulwarty is the Senior Science Advisor for Climate, and the Director of the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) at the NOAA Office of Oceans and Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. Roger’s publications focus on climate and risk management in the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean. Throughout his career he has helped develop and lead widely-recognized programs dealing with climate science, adaptation, and services, including the Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments, NIDIS and the Mainstreaming Adaptation to Climate Change project in the Caribbean. Roger is a lead author on the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Reports on Water Resources and on Extremes, and a convening lead author on the IPCC Working Group II Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Roger has served on advisory committees of the National Academy of Sciences, provided testimonies before the U.S. Congress, and acts as an advisor on climate risk management and services to the Western Governors Association, the Caribbean Economic Community, the Organization of American States, the UNDP, the UNEP and the InterAmerican and World Banks, among others. He chairs the WMO Commission on Climatology Climate Services Information System. Roger’s work has been featured in several media communications, including the New York Times and the BBC. Roger lectures at the University of Colorado and the University of the West Indies. He is a co-recipient of NOAA awards, Department of Commerce Gold and Silver Medals for integrating scientific research into decision-making, and the Gold Medal for Excellence in Applied Science and Technology from the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.
Abstract: All aspects of food production and security are affected by climate. As the IPCC notes, projected impacts vary across crops, regions, and adaptation scenarios. For major crops (wheat, rice, and maize), climate change without adaptation will have negative impacts, although individual locations may benefit. A range of adaptation options exists. However, many analyses assume a fixed or “changed” climate without accounting for changes in extremes as these evolve to 2050 and beyond. Systems, and equilibrium assumptions, may change faster than models can be recalibrated, and projections may be most unreliable at the time when they are most desired. Key factors are intra-seasonal (extremes) to decadal variability effects on quantity, quality, and access, including crop migration, storage and utilization. There remains limited understanding of impacts and adaptation options for non-production elements. We will address the factors driving a changing climate, sources of knowledge and uncertainty in characterizing hotspots in the U.S. and elsewhere, impacts on productivity, and adaptation priorities. We argue that immediate needs are to; acknowledge the cross-scale nature of climate, of early warning information and of climate-resilient strategies affecting food production and security, including critical interdependencies derived from water and land resources; recognize that communication is a necessary but limited framing-as important, is an understanding how particular lessons become socialized into practice over time; craft an acceptable, fundable, collaborative framework between research-management.
Key factors determining success in the above dimensions, include; food production assessments linked with food security assessments; information services to support adaptation in changing environments; and empirical evidence on the effectiveness of technological interventions and social adaptations at all levels of the food system. Most critical will be development of sustained networks across institutions to ensure that lessons being learned, as risks and opportunities emerge, become embedded in practice and inform the choice of pathways for resilience.