How do we organise the farming sector to become ecologically compatible and climate-resilient? How do we feed ourselves in a way that is good for our health and the planet? How do we reconcile forest conservation with sustainable timber use? And how do we utilise the available land against the backdrop of competing demands? In short: How can we achieve a land-use transition for climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation?
These and other questions are addressed in a recent policy brief presented by the Oeko-Institut at Grüne Woche 2024, the leading international trade fair for food, agriculture and horticulture. It makes recommendations for the areas of land use, agriculture, food and forestry and the sustainable orientation of these sectors. Policy tools that can provide answers include:
- Making land take reduction the “new credo” and taking account of land as a key resource in planning decisions;
- Promoting a diverse, more small-scale farming sector and directly rewarding practitioners for protecting the climate and biodiversity;
- Promoting livestock husbandry that pays greater attention to animal welfare and strives to close nutrient cycles;
- Motivating consumers to eat a more plant-based diet and more organic and regionally produced foods;
- Rewarding climate change mitigation in the forestry sector and attracting private investors for forest conservation.
Farming, food, forestry – an integrated, long-term approach is needed
The farming sector is in the midst of an economic and environmental crisis. A fundamental transformation of the agricultural system is needed that translates ecological action into economic success and social recognition. This transformation must be based on a guiding vision that emerges from dialogue with all stakeholders. The Commission on the Future of Agriculture (Zukunftskommission Landwirtschaft, ZKL) presented such a guiding vision and a host of recommendations for implementation back in August 2021. Policymakers are now called upon to finally follow up with a long-term and reliable support framework aimed at realising this vision which would provide a secure basis for farmers' operational planning and investments.
"This is a fundamental societal task that can only succeed with more dialogue and not with more conflict," says Herold. "Many farmers want a sustainable farming sector too. Consumers want more animal welfare and higher environmental standards and are in favour of measures such as an animal welfare levy, as the recently presented recommendations of the Citizens' Assembly on Nutrition have shown. The current protests are above all a sign of frustration that the good results of the dialogue held a few years ago have not translated into action, in contrast to the recommendations issued by Germany’s Commission on Growth, Structural Change and Employment (Kohlekommission), for example."