The Story of Agriculture and Climate Change: The Road We’ve Travelled

This blog was originally posted on GGIAR’s Agriculture and Ecosystems Blog

This week, amidst the ongoing UN climate talks in Doha, farmers, scientists, businesses and NGOs will unite at Agriculture, Landscapes and Livelihoods Day (ALL-5) to share solutions for protecting our food supply and the livelihoods of farmers across the globe in the face of climate change.

To illustrate the hugely important role that agriculture plays in both the adaptation and mitigation of climate change, a brand new infographic produced by Farming First, in partnership with the CGIARResearch Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCFAS), has been launched.  Entitled ‘The Story of Agriculture and Climate Change: The Road We’ve Travelled’, it highlights significant events leading up to discussions on the future of agriculture at COP18, including the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, the first discussions of the impacts of climate change on agriculture in IPCCstudies in 2001, the initiation of REDD in 2005 and the first ever agriculture day in 2009.

UNFCCC to consider agriculture issues under SBSTA

This important road, however, is not yet at an end. In Durban in 2011, the UNFCCC agreed to consider issues relating to agriculture, under the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). This would mandate SBSTA to research, document and share knowledge of improved agricultural practices to inform decision-making around agriculture and climate change to stakeholders, as they prepare national strategies to address climate change.

Nineteen of the of the world’s leading agricultural organisations, including the World Farmers organisation (WFO), the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and CGIAR Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centres, have issued a joint call-to-action to urge negotiators to approve this SBSTA programme.

Farmers around the world are experiencing the impacts of climate change today. Productivity is shifting due to changing and more volatile weather conditions and temperatures. By 2050, if farmers are not assisted to meet these changes, agriculture yields will decrease with impacts projected to be the most severe in Africa and South Asia, with productivity decreasing by 15% and 18% respectively. We urgently need to safeguard our food supply and to ensure continued growth in economies where agriculture is an important sector.


Part of the climate change solution

In addition, while prioritizing the adaptation challenges, we should not overlook agriculture’s significance as part of the solution to climate change. Agriculture and land use change (primarily from deforestation) contribute an estimated 31% of total greenhouse gas emissions, yet improvements to crop yields to date already have saved 34% of total emissions.  Every dollar ($1 USD) invested in agriculture results in 68kgC fewer emissions.

The road agriculture has travelled at the climate talks is long, but we need to ensure it reaches the destination that millions of farmers desperately need.

We need to make 2012 the year that a cohesive, holistic approach to agriculture is put on the UNFCCC’s road map.

About the Author: Anette Friis, from the Danish Food & Agriculture Council, is the spokesperson for Farming First.

View the infographic and call to action here.

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