More than a billion farmers and their families around the world are on the frontline of climate change. Their lives and livelihoods are directly affected by its impact, and they are also vital to implementing many of the solutions we need to help delay and deflect it.
To guide policy making, decision makers will need access to knowledge about best practices, scientific and engineering knowledge and technologies that are specific to their context. Additional research work should take into account the existing available scientific knowledge while identifying gaps as well as the linkages which exist between agriculture and other types of interventions.
Addressing climate change through agriculture should involve the following approaches:
1. Support the unique role of agriculture in the global climate change response.
- Ensure that agriculture is included within the UNFCCC annual climate change negotiations.
- Refrain from setting an absolute emission reduction target for agriculture as an industry.
2. Encourage the use of all available and applicable climate change solutions.
- Promote agricultural best practices, particularly Integrated Crop Management (ICM), conservation agriculture, intercropping, improved seeds and fertilizer best management practices.
- Support increased investment in agricultural research, including links between agriculture and climate change, involving research centres, programmes and industry R&D.
3. Promote funding mechanisms which support the needs of all levels and forms of farming.
- Urge agricultural inclusion within multilateral financial mechanisms.
- Promote voluntary carbon credit systems for GHG offsets from agriculture and land use to reward farmers for their contribution.
- Extend the scope of carbon markets to encompass the critical role of soil as a carbon sink.
- Establish international technology assessment and sharing programmes for climate change, as well as capacity-building programmes, including the development of local and global centres of excellence.
4. Reward resource-based productivity improvements as a direct contributor to climate-change effectiveness.
- Encourage productivity improvements – in a sustainable way – on existing agricultural land to avoid additional land clearing and give priority to the rehabilitation of degraded agricultural soils.
- Recognise the positive contribution of sustainable land management practices through increased coordinated agricultural research.
- Include robust methodologies and field-testing to overcome uncertainties around measurement, reporting and verification.
- Provide incentives to farmers and other stakeholders which reward adoption of sustainable and responsible production systems, better performing technologies and the efforts of early adopters.
5. Invest in capability sharing to encourage all farmers to play a role in climate change while safeguarding local and global food security.
- Enhance capacity building to implement sustainable land management policies and programmes.
- Create a dedicated adaptation fund for agriculture accessible to farmers’ organisations in developing countries.
6. Prioritise research imperatives
- Invest in R&D aimed at scaling up a broad range of new mitigation and adaptation technologies and practices addressing diverse climate needs, including locally-adapted drought-tolerate, salinity-tolerant and heat-tolerant varieties.
- Develop climate information services and early warning systems, as well as best possible estimates of weather and climate impacts on crop or forage production, at a temporal and spatial scale useful for vulnerable rural communities.
- Promote partnerships between farmers and scientists to develop adequate and fit-for-use technologies as well as land and water management tools where they are most needed.
- Instigate a system for monitoring GHG emissions from agriculture, including developing performance indicators for agricultural practices that reduce emissions.