High-level event: What science tells us about the impact of sustainable land use on reducing deforestation and building peace in Colombia

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By Ma. Eliza J. Villarino


Over the last four years, researchers from the Alliance of Bioversity International and its partners under a project funded by Germany’s International Climate Initiative have been analyzing how sustainable land use, such as organic agroforestry cocoa and silvopastoral systems, affect tendencies toward conserving forest and building stability in conflict-affected areas. So, what have they found?

The findings from some of those studies will take the spotlight of a high-level event slated on 13 December 202 in Bogota. More than 20 peer-reviewed journals with good citation track records have published findings from research done under the Sustainable Land Use Project in Colombia.

The event forms part of efforts by the SLUS project team to disseminate knowledge that can inform policies of Colombia on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, otherwise known as climate mitigation, and supporting the country’s peace process, according to Lisset Perez, senior research associate at the Low-Emission Food Systems research team of the Alliance and organizer of the event.

“We hope to see the evidence we produced under the project to form the basis of policies,” said Perez, who is also a Ph.D. candidate from the University of Copenhagen.

In particular, Perez added, the studies can offer insights that can support the process of formulating actions to promote sustainable livestock and cocoa production systems as well as prevent the unintended effects of scaling these actions. They also guide the design of tools that can quantify how these systems contribute to climate mitigation and peacebuilding.

For Dr. Augusto Castro-Nunez, who leads the Alliance’s Low-Emission Food Systems research team, the event showcases a key achievement of the SLUS Project: building the capacity of next-generation researchers and scores of livestock and cocoa producers. Most of the doctoral candidates doing research under the project are Colombians – half are women — while some of the producers were victims of armed conflict.

“These Ph.D. candidates, most of whom are Colombians, are a source of pride for the project given their potential to have wide-ranging impact relevant to climate mitigation and peacebuilding,” said Castro-Nunez, leader of the project.

Castro-Nunez will talk about the unintended risks of scaling sustainable production systems in Colombia, and recommendations to avoid these risks. Other presentations relate to Colombia’s zero-deforestation dairy value chain agreement, implementation and management practices of sustainable livestock and cocoa production systems and strategies for scaling sustainable land uses.

Colombian cocoa and value chain stakeholders will compose a panel that will discuss how sustainable cocoa and livestock systems contribute to reducing deforestation and building peace. Speakers include Alba Trillos and Maryoly Nieto, women cocoa and livestock producers from Caqueta and Cesar who had been displaced by armed conflict; Ángela María Penagos Concha, the president of Finagro, the government financial institute catering to the country’s agricultural sector; Gustavo Diaz, who leads the technical unit of Fedecacao, the national federation of cocoa producers, in Valledupar; and Rafael Torrijos. director of the committee of cattle ranchers in Caqueta.

“The SLUS Project is unique in that it provides evidence on whether climate mitigation and peacebuilding could drive rural development as envisioned under the 2016 peace agreement based on the context of the people with whom and where the team works,” Marcela Quintero, associate director general for research strategy and innovation at the Alliance of Bioversity-CIAT and who will moderate the panel discussion.

Apart from the discussions, the event will showcase cocoa and cheese products produced by the farmers that the SLUS Project team has been partnering with. Click here to learn more about and participate in the event.


More information:

The event “Sistemas de uso sostenible del suelo para la reducción de la deforestación y la construcción de la paz” is supported by Development is supported by CGIAR initiatives, Agrilac Resiliente and  Mitigate+: Research for Low Emissions Food Systems, and by the project 18_III_106_COL_A_Sustainable productive strategies. This project is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) supports this initiative on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag. The views expressed in this paper cannot be taken to reflect the official opinions of these organizations.

Photo credit: Lisset Perez, senior research associate at the Low-Emission Food Systems research team of the Alliance, visits a cocoa agroforest in Caqueta. Perez say the event on “Sistemas de uso sostenible del suelo para la reducción de la deforestación y la construcción de la paz” is part of the SLUS Project’s effort to inform policies on climate mitigation and contribute to peacebuilding efforts in Colombia / Ma. Eliza J. Villarino / Alliance of Bioversity-CIAT / IKI-SLUS Project in Colombia

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