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Thinking in solutions: Collaborating to better harness saline agriculture

21 December 2023
Climate change has serious implications for global food production. The threat of salinization of agricultural land is increasing. A joint call, including the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, aims to maximize the potential of saline agriculture.

Predictions indicate that by 2050, around 50% of agricultural land may face salinization. The threat is particularly strong in deltas, coastal areas, arid regions, and small developing island states. Urgent attention and a collective solution are therefore necessary. The joint call aims to better harness saline agriculture. It encourages increased investment and provides objective indicators for local, national, and global actions. "Embracing saline agriculture means more than cultivating crops today; it's about sowing the seeds of change for a climate-resilient tomorrow’’, says climate scientist Pim van Tongeren. Alongside with colleagues of the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), Kate Negacz and Janina Smaoui, he conducts research on saline agriculture.

Promotion of sustainable saline agriculture
The call is the result of a collaboration between the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, along with the Wageningen University Research (WUR), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU Amsterdam) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The objective of the document is to mobilize further collaborative action to maximize the opportunities offered by saline agriculture, to call for increased investments and to provide guidance for required actions, at local, national and global levels.

‘’Year of saline agriculture’’
Parallel to this, a session unfolded during the COP28 climate summit, advocating for the declaration 2028 as the ‘’Year of saline agriculture’’. This session was co-designed by VU Amsterdam and aimed to increase awareness about the importance and benefits of saline agriculture. It sought to highlight the impact of saline agriculture on the development of climate-resilient, sustainable agricultural systems and the promotion of healthy ecosystems in salt-affected areas.

The way forward
The parties plan to continue their collaboration, with upcoming events such as the First WASAG Plenary Assembly. Progress is being monitored at both national and international levels. To share and apply knowledge, the focus is on a twin-track approach: individual countries and international cooperation. VU Amsterdam takes a leading role in this global initiative, underscoring its commitment to research, education, and sustainable solutions in addressing the critical challenges posed by salinization in agriculture.