Guidelines for Establishing Audits of
Environment and Natural Resources Service Sustainable Development Department
FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS
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© FAO 2003
GUIDELINES FOR ESTABLISHING AUDITS OF AGricultural-ENvironmental (AG-EN) HOTSPOTS
Michael H. Glantz
28 pp, 4 Figures, 1 Appendix, Environment and Natural Resources Working Paper No. 15
Starting in 1999, the Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping Systems (FIVIMS) Secretariat in FAO has published an annual report on global Food Insecurity and Vulnerability (see: http://www.fao.org/DOCREP/005/Y7352E/Y7352E00.HTM). The report, - The State of World Food Insecurity, known as SOFI - assembles, analyses and disseminates information on who are the food insecure, where they are located, and why they are food insecure, nutritionally vulnerable or at risk.
The Environment and Natural Resources Service (SDRN) of the Sustainable Development Department, FAO, has been involved through the preparation of maps and analyses. As food insecurity can often be correlated with difficulties in making proper use of natural resources, it was considered that it would be useful to produce regular analyses about areas where ecological processes or agricultural production are disrupted due to conflicts between environment and agriculture. Such areas are termed agricultural-environmental hotspots, or Ag-En hotspots.
The emphasis is thus on non-optimal functioning of ecosystems, agriculture, or both. "Environment" includes natural, social, economic and cultural aspects.
A brainstorming meeting was organized on 9-10 December 2002 in FAO headquarters to define Ag-En hotspot products that could be prepared based on data availability and on demand, with internal (FAO) and external partners. A discussion paper was prepared in advance by Michael Glantz, Senior Scientist in the Environmental and Societal Impacts Group at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. Based on the discussions held at the meeting, Dr Glantz revised the discussion paper, which is presented here as Guidelines for Establishing Audits of Agricultural-Environmental (Ag-En) Hotspots.
The report serves multiple objectives, starting with terminology and delineation of concepts. Terms like hotspots, risk, vulnerability, extreme factor, hazard, chronic vs acute hotspots, and the scale at which hotspots are defined demand closer consideration.
Ag-En hotspots themselves can be analysed from twin points of view: first, the mechanisms that cause them, and, second, themes such as soil, water shortage, land degradation, biodiversity, food security (as in FIVIMS), livelihoods and nutrition.
The following points are also listed among those to which the meeting participants were asked to pay particular attention: monitoring issues, including mapping, thresholds and the possibility of "predicting" future probable hotspots 5 or 10 years ahead; conceptual, causal and thematic links between hotspots, disasters and sustainability; variables and indicators that will be required as a function of an Ag-En hotspot typology, including geographical location, scale, reliability, etc. Appropriate emphasis should be given to non-environmental forcing variables, such as civil unrest, poor resource endowment, and trade.
As mentioned above, the meeting also drew attention to the possibility of identifying mechanisms or patterns that could lead to the development of hotspots in the future, as, for instance, when well-known chronic stresses become acute problems confronting policy-makers.
Keywords: Environment, Impact, Risk, Extreme factor, Prediction, Present futures, Creeping and Environmental Problems.
How We Tend to Describe Environmental Changes
Potential Indicators to Identify Hotspots
What Should Be The First Steps in a Hotspots Activity?
OPTIONS FOR ACTION
Undertake a Hotspots Audit
The interface with relatively fragile environments
WHAT is the Primary Audience for an FAO Ag-En Hotspots Activity?
WHEN to Undertake Hotspot Audits?
WHAT Problems Are Associated with Ag-En Interactions?
Early Warning and Hotspots
HOW to Proceed?
A Hotspots Web site
Idea Bank for a Hotspots Web site
ANNEX 1 - DECEMBER 2002 BRAINSTORMING AT FAO HQ
List of Participants
Environment and Natural Resources Series
Environment and Natural Resources Working Papers
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