Pacific Organic & Ethical Trade Community

Goal 13: Climate Change

Take Urgent Action to Combat Climate Change and its Impacts

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges Pacific Island countries face. With rise in sea levels claiming coastal areas, affecting soil fertility and fresh water supply, and climate models predicting more frequent and extreme weather events, climate change has become a phenomenon that has far reaching effects on the foundations of the Pacific way of life.

Agriculture has been a contributor to climate change — the degradation of soil through unsustainable farming has released huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere and use of petrochemical-based fertilizers has increased agricultures negative impact. At the same time, agriculture is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts and this directly threatens food security in the Pacific, where the majority of the populations are subsistence or semi-subsistence producers.

Soil salinity caused by rising sea levels affect the fertility of soils and, therefore, inevitably affect crop yields for exports and local food security. An increase in natural disasters across the region also
further exacerbates the issues of food security as Pacific Island countries are now also facing droughts and water shortages due to climate change

One such solution for both climate change mitigation and adaptation is through the sustainable farming practices used in organic agriculture. A key part to organic farming practices is soil management. Using chemical fertilizers and organic farming practices, such as minimum tillage, returning crop residues to the soil, the use of cover crops and rotations, and the greater integration of nitrogen fixing legumes, increase the return of carbon to the soil.

Furthermore, a study20 shows that with the “use of cover crops, compost, crop rotation and reduced tillage, we can actually sequester more carbon than is currently emitted, tipping the needle past 100 per cent to reverse climate change.”

Organic farming also provides strategies that will assist farmers to adapt to the impacts of climate change; for example, by establishing that farming systems are drought resistant and support the conservation of water resources, and encourage use of locally adapted varieties and in-situ adaptation of crop species.

Organic Agricultural farming methods provide adaptation solutions that will help ensure food security for affected Pacific Island countries whilst also contributing toward combating climate change globally.

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