LONDON, UK. The findings from an International study published late last week have revealed a series of flaws in policy narratives that prevent people in arid regions from fulfilling their potential to provide food, and sustain resilient livelihoods in a changing climate, the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) said.
The publications come as drylands experts from around the world met on 9-19 April 2013 in Bonn, Germany, for the second scientific conference of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, and the 11th session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention.
IIED spokesperson Mike Shanahan said on Friday that the new research, coordinated by IIED with funding from the Ford Foundation, will be presented at the 7th International Conference on Community Based Adaptation to Climate Change in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 22-25 April.
“Policymakers who dismiss the world’s drylands as fragile ecosystems where it barely rains exacerbate scarcity and degradation, and further reduce productivity and induce desertification, conflict and migration,” IIED’s Ced Hesse said.
“But this ignores both the dynamics of dryland ecosystems and how dryland communities have long learnt how to live with and harness this variability to support sustainable and productive economies, societies and ecosystems,” Hesse added.
The study focused on the Indian, Chinese, Kenyan and other global contexts.
“Narratives that underpin global policymaking on agricultural development are necessary simplifications,” Saverio Krätli, author of one of the new briefing papers, charged.
Krätli said such simplifications currently hide a fundamental alternative in the way of using unpredictably variable environments for food production.
“One in which people operate with variability rather than against it, adapt and turn variability into a valuable resource rather than resist and suffer it as a costly disturbance.
“We are learning this from pastoral systems developed to operate in highly variable environments. In times of globalised weather volatility, this is no lesson to be missed,” he added.
More information about this study can be found here: http://pubs.iied.org/10040IIED.html
*Photo by Wildlife Extra. A dryland in Sudan, Africa.