Vital Signs: Integrating Data To Visualize the Human, Agriculture, and Nature Nexus

Friday, 13 February 2015: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Room 230B (San Jose Convention Center)
Cheryl A. Palm,Columbia University Earth Institute, Palisades, NY
Striving to achieve increased agricultural production with inclusive growth and reduced environmental impact requires a means of assessing and tracking the various components of these three dimensions.  Some programs track livelihoods (income, food security, nutritional security) through household surveys, other programs monitor crop production by field assessment, but few programs are designed to measure environmental aspects (land cover change and ecosystem services such as water and energy provision, climate forcing, and biodiversity) along with agricultural expansion or intensification. Even when all aspects are measured they are not done so in the same place or time that is required to assess the combined outcomes and make informed decisions to move towards sustainable agricultural intensification.  Vital Signs, an integrated monitoring system for agricultural landscapes, was designed for this purpose – to track the multiple dimensions and outcomes of agricultural intensification and to assess the tradeoffs and synergies with livelihoods and the environment at household, landscape and regional scales.  A sampling framework, a set of indicators, protocols for the observations, measurements and analytics to generate the indicators are being tested in the Southern Growth Corridor of Tanzania, Ghana, and Uganda as well as a framework and tools for decision makers to assess tradeoffs and synergies to inform decision making.  Such a system and information are crucial as Africa moves towards its Green Revolution that encompasses the multiple dimensions of sustainable intensification.