Peru’s integrated approach to nationally determined contributions can boost agroforestry’s role in fighting climate change

Agroforestry on degraded pasture in San Martin, Peru. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Valentina Robiglio

Agroforestry’s ability to produce multiple benefits can make it a key feature of Peru’s innovative and multi-sectoral approach to NDCs. What is needed to fully harness it?


Climate action is increasingly a country-led and country-driven process. Through their nationally determined contributions (NDCs), each country articulates how they will meet targets set out in the Paris Agreement.

Peru’s Minister of Environment, Elsa Galarza, at a side event co-hosted by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) at this year’s United Nations’ climate talks in Bonn, Germany, presented the country’s innovative, multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder approach to its NDCs supported by a Framework Law on Climate Change that is pending approval.

This will enable Peru to harmonize legislation and on-the-ground action as well as provide a seamless contribution to other strategic objectives, particularly, the 2030 Agenda on the Sustainable Development Goals and the development of a green-growth strategy needed to support the country’s admission to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. By 2030, mitigation efforts based on national circumstances and capacities will result in a 20% reduction in emissions, with a further 10% conditional on international support.

The sectors in Peru with the highest greenhouse-gas emissions are Land Use, Land-use Change and Forestry (often abbreviated to LULUCF), and Agriculture, accounting for more than 60% of the national total. These are also the sectors with the highest potential for mitigation while at the same time being among the most vulnerable to climate change.

Key commitments made by Peru concern the agricultural and forestry sectors, among which there are four tree-based measures: two for agriculture, consisting of the promotion of silvopastoral systems in the Amazon and Andean regions; and two for forestry, consisting of coffee and cocoa agroforestry.

Valentina Robiglio, an ICRAF researcher in Peru, has been closely involved in the identification of options for mitigation and adaptation in family farmers’ production systems in the Peruvian Amazon. She pointed out that the potential of agroforestry to contribute to NDCs in Peru—considering both direct and indirect benefits—goes well beyond current estimates.

‘In the Peruvian NDCs, proposed agrofrestry measures contribute to the enhancement of carbon-stocking capacity’, explained Robiglio. ‘For example, the planting of trees and living fences in silvipastoral systems on degraded pastures as well as the use of previously degraded areas for the establishment of coffee or cocoa agroforestry can increase carbon storage up to 80 tonnes per hectare. When sustainably-intensified cocoa and coffee agroforestry is established on previously deforested land, emissions from deforestation are also reduced, which is even more strategic for Peru’.

Researcher Maria Baca of ICRAF discusses the impact of climate change on the ripening process of coffee cherries in Junin. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Valentina Robiglio

There are also important synergies with adaptation, according to Robiglio.

‘Producers of coffee at lower altitudes are suffering from severe drought and changing rainfall patterns, threatening 40% of growing areas. Yet careful design and management of tree-shade levels could significantly reduce risk and enhance the resilience of production systems and producers’ families’.

Agroforestry’s full benefits, argued Robiglio, could best be gained from recognition of its multiple functions and the establishment of enabling technical and socio-institutional contexts for tree-based practices. This should be systematically incorporated into the agricultural and forestry sub-sectors. A legal, cross-sectoral definition of agroforestry was needed to facilitate this to enable formal recognition of the vital, but currently underappreciated, role of trees in agriculture and their provision of ecosystem services. This can already be seen in various practices deployed to manage tree-based agricultural systems from the Andes to the Amazon.

‘The implementation of agroforestry concessions as provided for in the Forest Law already offers a highly promising mechanism for harnessing agroforestry to achieve multiple benefits at the forest frontier, including reduced deforestation’, she added. ‘This can contribute significantly to Peru’s highly inclusive and integrated approach to NDCs, offering a unique opportunity to advance and articulate an agroforestry agenda’.

A global study released by ICRAF at the conference, How agroforestry propels achievement of nationally determined contributions, shows that most countries have prioritized agroforestry as a strategy for achieving their NDCs, that agroforestry covers about 1 billion hectares worldwide with potential carbon storage that can offset an equivalent of 20 years of emissions from deforestation, contributes to microclimate and water regulation, supports biodiversity conservation, improves soil fertility and provides support to diversified nutrition, with significant contribution to food security.


Elizabeth Kahurani-Kimani provided material for this article. 


Read more from the climate conference

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ICRAF The World Agroforestry Centre is one of the 15 members of the CGIAR, a global partnership for a food-secure future. We thank all donors who support research in development through their contributions to the CGIAR Fund.


Rob Finlayson

Robert Finlayson is the Southeast Asia program's regional communications specialist. As well as writing stories for the Centre's website, he devises and supervises strategies for projects and the countries in the Southeast Asia region, including scripting and producing videos, supervising editors and translators and also assisting with resource mobilization.

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