UVM faculty advises UN report

A UVM staff member advised a report that reaches well past the borders of Burlington. 

The United Nations released a report advised by UVM Gund Fellow Marta Ceroni on Aug. 22 titled “An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security.”

“I got involved with this report and the U.N. as a result of my work with Bioversity International and my work with agrobiodiversity,” Ceroni said.

Ceroni had an advisory role in the report and helped to guide the authors in focusing on larger ecosystems, she said.

“[We worked] toward the important aspects of building biodiversity and ecosystem services in intensive agricultural systems,” Ceroni said. 

The report featured innovative ideas about the importance of biodiversity and services within larger ecosystems, she said.

“The research discusses the large potential for improvement and better management of agricultural lands for water and food,” Ceroni said.

One of the bigger topics in the report is food and water security, featuring success stories and ideas to improve availability to both, she said 

The article also deals with agroecosystems, a term coined by ecologists to remind us that we can look at agriculture as an ecosystem rather than an activity, Ceroni said.

“In some cases, agroecosystems can be made productive and more diverse by combining important functions, Ceroni said. “For example, wetlands that are managed for fish production and livestock grazing crop cultivation.”

Some students said they are impressed with the global reach of the work of Gund fellows.

            “It’s really interesting for me to see the broader impact that the Gund Institute has on the world,” graduate student Brian Kelly said. “I think that by having someone from [Gund] getting their voice heard is more inspiration for the work we’re doing, and it speaks to the shift in global awareness about ecological economics.”

            Though Ceroni said she is optimistic about the report and feels that it is a step in the right direction as far as raising awareness is concerned, she wishes the article had gone more in-depth.

            “I think if there is a follow-up to this report, it will need to be more zoomed-in and appeal to a different audience,” Ceroni said. “There are many in-country and on-ground organizations that can help farmers adopt the changes suggested in the report and would benefit from that level of information.”