Environmental projects can generate jobs and growth – 06/08/2021 – Opinion

We are at a crucial moment. The Covid-19 pandemic, with its enormous economic, human and social impacts, has joined the greatest challenge of our time: climate change. The world’s attention today is focused on containing the health crisis: it is more urgent than ever to rebuild economies, restore jobs and incomes. But the question we must ask is: what kind of recovery do we want?

Will we accept the same model we implemented before the pandemic, or will we seize this opportunity to drive a recovery with climate transformation, in which we move forward together, with efforts against climate change and reducing the environmental footprint of agriculture?

The evidence is increasingly clear: protecting the environment, tackling climate change, and moving towards sustainable agriculture are some of the best ways to improve the quality of life for people in our region.

According to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the structural changes needed to achieve a carbon-neutral production scenario by 2030 in Latin America and the Caribbean could generate 15 million jobs.

A study by Nicholas Stern and Joseph Stiglitz shows that after the 2008 crisis, stimulus measures with an environmental focus generated more jobs and better growth than traditional alternatives.
We can no longer think that conserving, sustaining and reducing emissions are restrictions that affect productive development. The complex and necessary task is to identify concrete strategies and solutions that will allow us to solve the sustainable development equation in its economic, social and environmental dimensions.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) affirms that the sustainable transformation of the agrifood sector, through technological and institutional innovations, will be a source of resumption of economic growth.

In Latin America and the Caribbean there are many examples of this: in Ecuador, an intelligent livestock project allowed 1,000 small farmers to increase their income by 40%, improve soil quality by 40,000 hectares and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions ( GHG) by 20%, avoiding the emission of 24,000 tons of equivalent carbon.

In Mexico, a project to promote efficient, low-emission technologies in agriculture and agribusiness has enabled 1,842 agribusinesses to reduce their net GHG emissions by 6 million tons of CO2, in addition to producing energy from biomass.

In Uruguay, a project on best practices and alternatives to the use of pesticides, which worked with more than 2,000 technicians and producers, demonstrated that, by making adjustments in management, it would be possible to reduce the use of herbicides by up to 70% in a cycle of production of soy, without affecting yields and without increasing costs, which meant an average savings of US$40 per hectare for the cases evaluated.

A project to manage sustainable trawling, mainly for shrimp, has reduced unintentional fishing of species by up to 36%, reducing its environmental impact in Brazil, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago thanks to new nets and technology.

These and other examples are part of a new FAO publication, “Towards Sustainable and Resilient Agriculture in Latin America and the Caribbean”, which will be launched on Thursday (10) and which shows that sustainable recovery from the pandemic is the transformation of agrifood systems are possible.

If we can replicate such initiatives on a large scale, we will undoubtedly generate better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life.

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