Agricultural Solutions for Biodiversity wanted!

Poster for Solution Search with two pictures and lettering

The Solution Search is online now; Photo: RARE

A global crowd-sourcing competition designed to spotlight the most promising approaches to biodiversity-friendly resource solutions within the agricultural sector was launched at the 13th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD COP13). Until March 2017 the internet based Farming for Biodiversity Solution Search seeks to get entries from organsations to share their innovative solutions that bring farming in harmony with the natural environment and/or that increase biodiversity on agricultural lands.

It is a paradigm shift that is urgently needed because agriculture is one of the major users of land, water and other resources and significant source of biodiversity loss, soil erosion, eutrophication of aquatic systems as well as a major driver of extinction. "Most people think that farming and increasing biodiversity are opposites and increasing one of them results in the reduction of the other - so there are always tradeoffs. The correct ecologically managed farming systems can increase biodiversity and improve the profitability of the farmers. This is a win win situation” says André Leu President, IFOAM - Organics International. These are the solutions the global contest is aiming to surface and scale.

The Solution Search focuses on behavior changes in agriculture that are primed for broad adoption, not simply those concepts identified in a scientific lab nor those that do not have holistic benefits for farmers, communities, nature, water, climate resilience, etc. The contest seeks to identify, reward and spotlight those successful approaches. In doing so, Solution Search will also increase awareness of biodiversity, its value and the many ways to conserve and sustainability use as well as manage it. The Global Biodiversity Outlook 4 reveals that the lack of awareness of biodiversity remains the greatest barrier, highlighting that progress towards Goal A of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets (Addressing the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society) is critical to the success of the CBD’s Strategic Plan.

"Solution Search is an online prize competition designed to crowd-source solutions to pressing conservation and human development challenges,” says Brett Jenks, President and CEO of Rare. “Practitioners are creating great solutions all over the world, but they rarely write them up or share them, so they almost never get replicated, much less scaled.”

The global Contest is designed to change that. It is part of a three year project that aims to link awareness raising and capacity building measures to scale solutions with key efforts to change behavior towards mainstreaming biodiversity into the agricultural sector. Supported by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), Rare, IFOAM-Organics International and the CBD Secretariat are working together to identify these promising approaches and then host capacity-building workshops across the globe to spread these effective solutions. The workshop series will aim to further empower local practitioners to raise awareness of the value of biodiversity and to conduct social marketing campaigns promoting behavior change in support of the identified solutions. All entries to this contest will become part of a larger network of stakeholders engaged in supporting biodiversity-friendly agriculture.

Over the next nine months, the Solution Search, supported by many partners worldwide, will be soliciting entries, working with expert judges to narrow the field and asking the public to weigh in and vote as well. The grand prize winners will receive $30,000, and there will be four category prizes of $15,000. There will be an early entrant prize of $5,000 to the best entry received by February 10, 2017. All prize money must be used to further the winner’s solution and organization’s goals.  All finalists will win a trip to New York City to attend a capacity-building workshop and awards ceremony alongside some of the biggest names in conservation and development.

Applications here.