Saturday, 16 August 2014

Together we can make the world a better place... Launching Climate "Smarts" Perspectives

The Climate Smart Challenge

We have all heard by now that global food demand is increasing and that food consumption worldwide is expected to increase in 2018 by nearly 30 per cent over 2005 figures! This is driven to a great extent by a growing middle class in emerging markets fueling an increased demand for non-staple crops such as cashews, tree nuts, chocolate, and coffee. 

This trend also comes on the backdrop of complexly changing climatic conditions evidenced by increasing floods, deforestation, and soil erosion which has had a disproportionate effect on agriculture, especially in developing countries because of their high dependence on agriculture. In some cases these effects have been catastrophic.

You should be thinking climate smart by now

In the face of an increasingly hungry population (an estimated 870 million people, one in eight of the world’s population, were undernourished in 2010–2012) and a rapidly transforming transforming population (annual cereal production will need to rise to about 3 billion tonnes from 2.1 billion today and annual meat production will need to rise by over 200 million tonnes to reach 470 million tonnes) we face two big challenges to meeting future needs:
  1. Scarce and in some cases, inequitably distributed factors of production (e.g. land, labor, capital, scientific knowledge, indigenous technical knowledge); and 
  2. Ecosystem services degradation 
The challenge to meet food demand in the future is not only a challenge for agriculture. Actually as the food equation has become more complex to solve in the recent past, other fields such as electronics and ICT, engineering, structures and design, renewable energy, finance, biotechnology have all become more relevant to and intertwined with agriculture.  
In July, I visited Kenya as a Social Reporter for the Fin4ag Internantional Conference. During the field trips, I learnt that being climate smart is not only about cropping but also has to do with livestock. Here a smallholder farmer demonstrated to us how their recycle chicken manure to make "good" dairy feed out of it. They then use the dairy manure to fertilize napier grass as well as supplying bio-fuel for household energy. Relying less on industrially manufactured dairy feed as well as the utilization of bio-fuel is an integrated and climate smart approach to farming and reduces Carbon emissions for a more sustainable future.
Reportedly, most climate models indicate that the agricultural potential of developing countries may be more adversely affected by climate change than the world average. 

While citizens of developing countries are the most vulnerable to climate induced food insecurity; climate "Smarts" have better sure be a part of the agricultural transformation phase. And that is why I launched the Climate Smart Perspectives recently at a meeting with three people in Harare, Zimbabwe.

What is Climate Smart Perspectives

Climate Smart Perspectives is a voluntary initiative to engage young people in more climate smart dialogue and action.

The initiative also seeks to identify and scaling the voices of youths who are climate smart, i.e. "climate smarts." I have learnt that "climate smarts" are not necessarily farmers, climate smarts are also engineers, software developers, actuarial scientists, biotechnologists, marketers, graphic designers, researchers... virtually people in any profession with any skill who know how to employ their skills to ensure a climate smart future. 
The model we use is very simple:

Climate Smart Talk

We invite a Climate Smart professional or researcher who spares just an hour to talk with young people in schools and colleges. The talk is not meant to be a lecture but a two way interactive discussion where young people get to know more about the trends such as those I have shared in this post and basically where are our world is going in terms of sustainable development.

Share your Climate Smart Perspective with the world

Following the talk, we want to know whether the perspective of the young people involved in the talk has been changed and what they are going to do to contribute to a climate smart world. We therefore ask them to share their story of their Climate Smart perspective and their climate smart contribution through a blog post to be featured on this blog or their own blogs (or both).

Progress so far

Well the first thing is that my small "Climate Smart Movement" has declared our two main digital territories, i.e. our two sites and strictly climate smart zones! Meaning our dialogue on these sights is climate smart.

The second is that we are in the process of negotiating with a university in Zimbabwe to give our first University Climate Smart Talk. 

The third thing is that we have been invited to join the formation of a sustainable development initiative called the Preserve Trust Zimbabwe. We look forward to greater partnerships with you and other people. If you feel like joining the Climate Smart Perspectives Initiative feel free to contact 
Knowledge exists only at the point of action
Barefoot Education for Afrika Trust

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