The MIT Center for Collective Intelligence’s Climate CoLab Sustainable Land Use contest seeks proposals on sustainable land use and waste management practices that can be effectively implemented and brought to scale, in order to address the challenges of global climate change.
How can we scale-up sustainable landscape & waste management to significantly reduce emissions while ensuring food, water & energy security?
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), agriculture, livestock, forestry, and other land use are responsible for 24% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Waste management accounts for an important part of overall industry emissions which are estimated to be 21% of total GHG emissions. Opportunities exist, however, for improved land use to reduce and/or sequester significant amounts of GHGs from the atmosphere while creating more resilient landscapes that increase food security, water availability, energy supply, and human well-being and resilience. As demonstrated by the Paris Agreement adopted at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21), many governments have indicated that improved land use management will play a central part in their strategies to address climate change.
For example, some proposals may address the following questions:
- What are the barriers to reducing emissions in agriculture, livestock, forestry, or waste management, and how might these barriers be overcome?
- How can the implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) achieve the global adoption of sustainable land use practices?
- What solutions would reduce emissions while also providing benefits in terms of economic and social development (i.e. food and nutrition security, rural livelihoods, etc.) in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals?
- How can climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies be designed to increase food sovereignty and address social justice issues related to land use?
- How can we learn from indigenous and/or traditional land use management practices to mitigate the impacts of climate change for future generations?
- How can Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) projects be designed to address individual and community behavior change and sustainability?
- How can REDD+ projects be scaled up and/or nested into jurisdictional landscape programs?
- How can the potential sources of finance (e.g. the Green Climate Fund, Forest Bonds, Global Environment Facility, private sector investment, impact investing, etc.) best be used for sustainable land use and/or landscape management?
- What are creative ways to leverage the private sector for sustainable financing of improved land use strategies and projects?
- How can countries, institutions, and/or communities get the tools and financing they need to implement local, regional, and/or national landscape restoration projects?
- How can contributions to mitigating or adapting to climate change be monitored and verified efficiently?
- How will mitigation actions in agriculture, livestock, forestry, or waste management affect GHG emissions over different timescales? What co-benefits are associated with these mitigation actions?
- How can new business models (such as SunEdison’s approach to the solar photovoltaic industry) scale-up sustainable landscape management?
- What are strategies for feeding the world using sustainable livestock practices (e.g. organic, free-range livestock) instead of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs)?
- How can initiatives such as 20×20 (aiming to restore 20 million hectares by 2020) be replicated across the globe? How can businesses play an innovative role in improving the scalability and impact of such initiatives (e.g. Asia Pulp and Paper participates in the Bonn Challenge)?
- How can we measure the effectiveness of sustainable supply chain commitments in forestry and agriculture being adopted by companies such as Unilever, Nestle, and General Mills?
- Agriculture – Promising climate change mitigation options in the agriculture sector include:
- restoration of cultivated organic soils,
- improved cropland management,
- integrated soil and water conservation,
- nutrient management,
- tillage/residue management,
- water management,
- diversified farming systems,
- improved grazing land management,
- increased landscape productivity,
- and restoration of degraded lands.
- Forestry – There are many ways to reduce GHG emissions from sources and/or to increase GHG removals by carbon sinks in the forest sector using strategies ranging from local land management approaches to national and internationally policy. These include:
- reducing deforestation and forest degradation,
- reforestation and afforestation,
- promoting agro-forestry, Sustainable Forest Management (SFM), and Reduced Impact Logging (RIL) (2),
- promoting and enhancing traditional ecological knowledge in rural communities,
- expanding operations under sustainable forest management certifications (e.g., Forest Stewardship Council),
- increasing landscape level carbon density,
- reducing consumption of deforestation drivers (e.g. palm oil, beef),
- improving the supply chains of commercial agricultural commodities that can drive deforestation (e.g. initiatives under the UNDP Green Commodities Programme) (3), and
- increasing product and fuel substitution, as well as carbon stocks in wood products.
- Livestock – Promising climate mitigation options in the livestock sector include:
- promoting land-use for livestock outside of tropical forests,
- sustainable, rotational livestock pastures,
- improved feeding practices,
- animal husbandry and livestock health management,
- integrated crop-livestock systems,
- lowering livestock production and consumption,
- promoting lower-footprint proteins including pulses, insects and aquaculture,
- nutrient capture and recycling in manure management, and wider use of best practices and technologies.
- Waste Management – The IPCC outlines a range of possible strategies for reducing emissions from waste management, including:
- landfilling with landfill gas recovery (reduces CH4 emissions);
- waste minimization and post-consumer recycling (avoids waste generation and reduces emissions from the production process);
- composting of selected waste fractions (avoids GHG generation); and recovery of biodegradable waste and
- processes that reduce GHG generation compared to landfilling (thermal processes including incineration, pyrolysis and industrial co-combustion, Mechanical Biological Treatment or MBT with landfilling of residuals, and anaerobic digestion).
- Feasibility of the actions proposed in the proposal. Judges with different kinds of expertise will evaluate the technical, economic, social, and political feasibility of the proposals.
- Novelty of the proposal’s ideas. Innovative thinking and originality in a proposal will be valued more than encyclopedic knowledge. In addition, instead of selecting a roster of Finalists that are very similar, judges will try to select a group of proposals that represent a diverse range of approaches.
- Impact on climate change (for example, for mitigation actions, the amount of greenhouse gas emission reductions or for adaptation actions, the extent to which the actions counteract the effects of climate change) and desirability of other impacts (e.g. economic, social, lifestyle)
- Presentation quality. Proposals that are well-presented will be favored over those that aren’t. Presentation quality includes how well written a proposal is, how well it uses graphics or other visual elements, and how compelling are its artistic representations of possible future worlds (if any).
Winning proposals will be especially strong in at least one of the first three dimensions, and also well presented.
Top proposals in each contest will be awarded…
- Judges’ Choice Award — Two proposals will be selected by the Judges to receive the Judges’ Choice– one project, and one practice.
- Popular Choice Award – Received the most votes during the public voting period.
- The Judges’ Choice Award and Popular Choice Award Winners will be invited to MIT (see prior Climate CoLab Conferences), join the Climate CoLab winners’ alumni, and be eligible for the $10,000 Grand Prize—to be selected from among the winners across contests.
All award Winners and Finalists will receive wide recognition and platform visibility from MIT Climate CoLab. Climate CoLab or its collaborators may offer additional awards or recognition at their discretion.
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How to apply
Deadline: Sep 10, 2017 at 18:00:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time