The problem of global warming calls for a stronger involvement of agriculture and farming communities, as well as forestry and forest users in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Thursday.
"Agriculture and deforestation are major contributors to climate change, but by the same token farmers and forest users could become key players in reducing greenhouse gas emissions," said Alexander Muller, FAO Assistant Director-General.
"Unlocking the potential of agriculture and forestry for climate change mitigation requires financing mechanisms targeting farmers and foresters around the globe, particularly small-scale land-users in developing countries," he added.
"These mechanisms should give priority to emission-reducing measures that have 'co-benefits' for food and energy security, poverty reduction, sustainable use of natural resources," Muller said.
Greenhouse gas emissions from forestry and agriculture contribute over 30 percent of the current annual total emissions (deforestation and forest degradation 17.4 percent, agriculture 13.5 percent).
Agriculture is responsible for 50 percent of the annual methane (livestock and rice) emission and more than 75 percent of nitrous oxide (largely from fertilizer application) emission, according to FAO.
"Climate change will affect the lives and livelihoods of farmers, fishers and forest users in developing countries, many of whom are already facing difficulties in earning a sufficient income and feeding their families," Muller said.
Rural communities, particularly those living in already environmentally fragile areas, face an immediate and ever-growing risk of increased crop failure, loss of livestock, and reduced availability of marine, aquaculture and forest products.
"Climate change has the potential to increase hunger particularly in the poorest countries. We have to act now if we want to avoid a humanitarian disaster," said Alexander Muller.
"The international community can only win the global battle against climate change if we succeed in mobilizing the potential of these land users to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and in sequestering carbon in soil and plants," Muller said.
Forty-percent of the land biomass is directly or indirectly managed by farmers, foresters or herders, FAO said.