Thursday, April 28, 2016

International exhibit features IRRI’s technology for climate change mitigation

New York, USA—The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has organized an exhibit that showcases climate change mitigation stories around the globe through compelling photo essays. The exhibit runs from 22 April to 12 May at the UN Headquarters in New York. Part of the exhibit focuses on rice and climate change, which acknowledges the work of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from rice farming systems through the alternate wetting and drying (AWD) technology.

The exhibit was shown previously in Paris during the COP21 climate change negotiations in December 2015.

With the theme, We have the power: We are the change, the exhibit, which opened on Earth Day on 22 April, was intended to coincide with the momentous Paris Charter Agreement, on which 174 States and the European Union have signed. This signifies each country’s commitment to keeping global temperature increase within this century well below 20C.

AWD is a simple and inexpensive
technology.  Photo: Jericho Montellano/IRRI
Doing this within the coming decades would mean reducing GHG emissions from various industries and sectors. With the global GHG emission from agriculture now estimated to be at 10–12%, rice-producing countries need to effect measures to reduce emissions from rice cultivation, particularly the potent methane gas (CH4).

The IRRI-developed AWD technology has been proven to effectively address multiple challenges due to climate change, such as diminishing water resources and GHG emissions in rice production.

Through AWD, rice paddies in irrigated systems need not be continuously flooded, which is the practice in the conventional system. This intermittent series of flooding and reflooding of rice paddies results in water savings of up to 30%, thus providing more income to rice farmers by reducing irrigation costs. This technology also reduces methane emission from rice farming by up to 50%, which helps hold down the increasing global temperature.

Through the IRRI project on methane mitigation in rice paddies, AWD is now being tested and evaluated for its technical suitability and socioeconomic benefits in countries such as Vietnam, Bangladesh, Thailand, and the Philippines. Activities to determine the ways and potentials for outscaling (massive technology adoption) and upscaling (mainstreaming to national development plans) are being conducted in Vietnam and Bangladesh. A project funded by the Agriculture Initiative of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) being hosted by UNEP, with support from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), is identifying opportunities for policy support and testing new scale-out models.

As an old adage goes, “a picture paints a thousand words.” Through this exhibit, it is hoped that the photos on display will be able to meaningfully communicate that we have the power to help mitigate climate change and global warming. With good science, committed efforts, and solid action on the ground, we can achieve the change that we aspire for.

Related articles:

New Climate and Clean Air Coalition agriculture effort tackles climate change, supports rice production

Climate project partners map inroad to adoption of water-saving technology

Bangladesh plans for 'alternate wetting and drying' outscaling

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