Outcomes of Agriculture and Rural Development Day at COP17

A group of 19 of the world’s leading organisations (including three United Nations agencies, the World Bank, CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), FANRPAN, Farming First, the Global Forum on Agricultural Research, Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU) and the World Farmers’ Organisation) have jointly endorsed a letter calling on COP17 climate negotiators to take concrete action to include agriculture in the text of the climate agreement.

The call to action was announced at this year’s annual Agriculture and Rural Development Day, which took place on Saturday 3rd December in Durban in parallel with the COP17 climate change negotiations. The all-day event brought together more than 500 agricultural experts, including policymakers and negotiators, journalists, farmers and scientists to discuss priorities to boost agricultural production while supporting adaptation and mitigation to climate change.

Dr. Bruce Campbell, Director of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) said:

It is astonishing that agriculture remains excluded from a global agreement on climate change.  This year’s conference offers a unique opportunity for this omission to be addressed.

Professor Sir John Beddington, Chair of the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change, outlined a seven-point plan for urgent action for achieving food security in the face of climate change in his keynote presentation. These included integrating food security and sustainable agriculture into global and national policies, raising the level of investment in sustainable agriculture and food systems over the next decade and sustainably intensifying agricultural production whilst reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

A number of key learning events took place during the day, which looked at the successes in agricultural adaptation and mitigation. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) led a learning event that looked at the tools and policies required to bring food security, adaptation, and mitigation together and shared best practice. At the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) learning event on building the resilience of African smallholder farmers in a changing climate, Dr Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, Chief Executive of FANRPAN highlighted the importance of research, technology and mobilisation of funding for smallholder farmers in Swaziland, and other regions across Africa. Many other side events on the day provided agricultural organisations with the opportunity to share knowledge on examples of best practice in early action on agricultural adaptation and mitigation that deliver economic and livelihood benefits  – the triple wins we need for climate smart agriculture.

Other high-level speakers at the event included, Rachel Kyte, Vice President for Sustainable Development at the World Bank and Chair of the CGIAR Fund Council, Dr. Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Dr. Mary Robinson, Chair of the The Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice (MRFCJ) and Former President of Ireland and United Nations High Commissioner and Tina Joemat-Pettersson, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Republic of South Africa

In the afternoon, there was a high level panel discussion, facilitated by Laurie Goering, Editor of Reuters Alertnet Climate, and included prominent participants such as Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). As the panel discussed taking agricultural productivity and food security into a new era, Spelman put forward the UK’s position on climate-smart agriculture saying:

Coping with climate change is a matter of extreme urgency. There are no simple, one-size-fits-all solutions but rather a rich diversity of approaches used around the world. Climate-smart solutions require smart finance.

Agriculture possesses huge uptapped potential to reduce poverty, bolster food security, adapt to climate change, reduce pressure on natural resources, and in many places lower greenhouse gas emissions. To realise this potential, farmers, fishers, and pastoralists must urgently become “climate-smart”, especially in the developed world, which is being hit hardest by climate change impacts. As the open letter endorsed by the 19 agricultural organisations reads:

Whilst agriculture is a contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, it has significant potential to be part of the solution to climate change. Preserving and enhancing food security requires increasing agricultural productivity whilst at the time adapting to and mitigating climate change. It also requires a shift towards building farmers’ and vulnerable communities’ resilience to climate shocks, and related food price volatility.

You can read more about the open letter in our previous blog: “Agriculture: A call to action for COP17 climate negotiators”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.