26 Mar 2019 Press release Climate change

New consortium to reduce environmental footprint of rice production

  • Sustainable Rice Landscape Initiative brings together international organizations, research institutes and private sector
  • Rice production roughly equivalent to Germany in greenhouse gas emissions
  • Consortium will target change in farming techniques through policy and market incentives

Bangkok, 26 March 2019 – A new global consortium, the Sustainable Rice Landscapes Initiative, will bring together expertise from international organizations, research institutions and business groups with significant market influence to tackle the enormous environmental footprint of rice production, members of the partnership announced today.

The new consortium will introduce sustainable approaches to farming practices, incentivise production and demand for sustainable rice with market-based instruments, deliver policy support to governments, and improve knowledge sharing and collaboration on sustainable rice solutions.

Rice is a leading cause, as well as a victim, of climate change, and its production impacts many natural systems. Rice is responsible for about the same greenhouse gas emissions as Germany, particularly from methane, which is emitted from rotting vegetation in inundated paddy fields.

At the same time, rice yields and nutritional values are significantly reduced by rising temperatures, and production must increase by 25% by 2050 to meet global demand.

Practices such as removing rice straw can reduce methane emissions by up to 70%, but farmers currently lack awareness, training, policy and market support.

The founding members of the Sustainable Rice Landscapes Initiative represent the range of partners needed to make these practices commonplace, namely UN Environment, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Sustainable Rice Platform, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, the International Rice Research Institute and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ).

“UN Environment is proud to be a member of the Sustainable Rice Landscapes Consortium. Sustainable rice production is one remedy that can fix a host of issues,” said Dechen Tsering, Regional Director of UN Environment’s Asia and the Pacific Office. “It can help us fight climate change, protect biodiversity and restore landscapes and simultaneously safeguard rice farming communities and the billions of people that rely on them.”

The Initiative is particularly targeting a number of Asian countries, where rice is one of the most important crops and the economic backbone for millions of farmers, and will seek changes in national policy, farming practices, and improvements in the supply chain. To achieve scale, the Initiative is calling upon governments and international funding bodies to support their efforts.

Quotes

“By working in partnership to apply scientific advances and best practices in rice landscapes the SRL consortium is a unique vehicle to deliver global benefits for the climate, land and water resources and biodiversity, while also ensuring the food security needs of billions of people in Asia and around the world.” said Kundhavi Kadiresan, Food and Agriculture Organization Assistant Director General for Asia and the Pacific.

“The Sustainable Rice Landscapes Initiative demonstrates our commitment to transforming global food systems using market-based, climate smart solutions, for healthy people and a healthy planet.” - Peter Bakker, President and CEO of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

“SRP and its 100 institutional partners are fully committed to this Consortium, which will drive wide-scale adoption of climate-smart, sustainable rice production among rice smallholders, using the world’s first Rice Sustainability Standard and Indicators.” - Wyn Ellis, Coordinator of the Sustainable Rice Platform.

“Through the Consortium and the implementation of the world’s first rice sustainability standard, we will not only strengthen environmental sustainability in rice production landscapes, but also help smallholder farmers to become more competitive, inclusive and resilient.” - Dr. Matthias Bickel, GIZ Project Director of the Agriculture and Food Cluster in Thailand.

“The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) promotes improvements in the environmental footprint of rice farming. Solutions will come from the combined efforts of many partners. As part of the Sustainable Rice Landscapes Initiative, we will share our science, technologies, and expertise in rice research to help deliver environmental sustainability to farmers and other key actors in the rice sector.” - Dr. Matthew Morell, Director General of the International Rice Research Institute.

 

NOTES TO EDITORS

About UN Environment

UN Environment is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. UN Environment works with governments, the private sector, civil society and with other UN entities and international organizations across the world.

For more information contact

Adam Hodge, UN Environment Regional Information Officer, Asia Pacific.