Shumei International recently attended the UN COP 26 which was held in Glasgow, Scotland from October 31 – November 12. This was the first UN Climate Summit since the outbreak of the COVID -19 pandemic, and thus a critical moment for world leaders, private sector and civil society to convene to discuss urgent action and progress in addressing the climate crisis.
Shumei representative Barbara Hachipuka Banda attended the Summit and also participated in daylong event on regenerative agriculture hosted by the 4 per 1000 Initiative as well as the People’s Summit, a concurrent gathering of activists and environmentalists outside of the official UN venue.
On November 9, Shumei International, alongside partners, Regeneration International, Navdanya, and the Savory Institute, organized an official side event at the People’s Summit entitled, “Accelerating Regenerative Solutions to Climate Change and the Global Pandemic”. Approximately 100 people from around the world attended the virtual panel discussion, which focused on the ways nature presents regenerative solutions to resolving the climate crisis, and practical examples from farmers doing this in their communities.
The session was moderated by Precious Phiri, the founder of the Earth Wisdom Network and training specialist in holistic management and community organizing. Speakers included Dr. Vandana Shiva, Founder of Navdanya, Allan Savory, Founder of the Savory Institute, Barbara Hachipuka Banda, President of the Natural Agriculture Programme Zambia, Mercedes Lopes and Ercilia Sahores, representatives from Via Organica and the Regeneration International network in South America, and Andre Leu, International Director of Regeneration International.
Dr. Vandana Shiva gave opening remarks on the future of agriculture and the shift from a colonial mindset and instead letting nature-based solutions and indigenous practices be what guides our decision making in farming and in climate policy. She candidly stated that net-zero commitments, which was a focus at COP 26, would not be fully sufficient in reversing climate change. According to Dr. Shiva, net-zero can justify the use of fossil fuels with technology to capture emissions. Instead, she emphasized the root solution in a change in mindset to combat climate change. Instead of finding novel ways to offset one issue, nature needs to be at the forefront of decision making.
Allan Savory spoke on the complexity of climate change and underscored the importance of governments understanding the interconnected of the issues to fully address the challenges ahead. He called on them to implement more nature-based solutions in their policies. In order to reduce climate emissions, there is an obligation “to transition agricultural production to best practice regenerative systems”, Mr. Savory said. Following their keynote presentations both Dr. Shiva and Mr. Savory offered a lively Q & A with the audience online.
Barbara Hachipuka Banda then offered the grassroots perspective from Africa. Drawing from her experience working with the Mbabala Women Farmers’ Cooperative on Natural Agriculture, she highlighted the importance of everyone working together in community to respond to the climate crisis and the pandemic. She also stressed the continued need to support smallholder farmers, and the power of indigenous farming practices which incorporate a trust and reliance on nature to create greater climate resiliency in the future. Ms. Banda underlined the role of young people in this work as the current population of rural farmers is aging. In order to engage young people, it is essential to change attitudes around farming as a fulfilling career path and sustainable livelihood. This is a priority for her programs as she looks to expand and accelerate the work of Natural Agriculture in Africa as the pandemic continues and there is greater reliance on social media for education.
Mercedes Lopez of Via Organica then gave a talk in Spanish about the power of preserving indigenous seeds and seed democracy ensuring that farmers are able to save seeds. She spoke about farming communities she works with in Mexico and South America, and their plight to protect their indigenous (maize) seeds from large companies who are trying to bring GMOs into their countries. Ms. Lopez shared how the local communities are conscious of the fact that GMOs will not be sustainable long-term, for the land, for their livelihoods, or their health. Thus, the future health of the planet is contingent on healthy, heirloom seeds and this is a right they are continuing to fight for in their region and around the world.
The event concluded with a call to action from Andre Leu, International Director of Regeneration International. Mr. Leu emphasized how more organizations, farmers and people should embrace regenerative agriculture to support the resiliency of food systems, which was impacted by the pandemic and the drawdown of carbon to reverse climate change. Following Mr. Leu’s closing remarks, attendees had another opportunity to ask questions to the panellists. The session ended noting the solutions to climate change and the pandemic are very much rooted in seeing the interconnectedness of the issues and recognizing mindsets and attitudes that lead us towards actions that regenerate and heal the land, communities and our health.