Stories tagged: cop15

Outcome statement from COP15 Agriculture Day

Agriculture: Where Poverty Reduction, Food Security

and Climate Change Intersect

Statement of Outcomes from Agriculture and Rural Development Day

12 December 2009, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen

A group of more than 300 policymakers, farmers and scientists meeting in Copenhagen today urged on negotiators at the United Nations Climate Change Conference to recognize agriculture’s vital role in climate change adaptation and mitigation.

The group strongly endorsed the proposed target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to avoid a temperature increase of more than 2 degrees C. They stressed that reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture is essential for achieving the target. Farmers and researchers are already finding climate change solutions. On that basis, the agricultural community intends to play a pro-active role in actions aimed at reducing emissions, while increasing the productive capacity of agriculture through the development of sustainable practices.

Agriculture faces the challenge of nearly doubling food production in order to meet the food needs of a population expected to reach 9 billion by mid-century but without increasing the sector’s emissions.. Across most of the tropics, agriculture will continue to face the enormous challenge of adapting to harsh and unpredictable growing conditions.

To meet the climate challenge, substantial additional financing and investment will be needed across the entire rural value chain. New investments must be handled transparently to ensure that adaptation and mitigation are not undermined by reduced support for global food security and rural development. In addition, new investment must be accessible to all stakeholders, including researchers and members of civil society, especially farmers and their associations.

Specifically, the group urged climate negotiators to agree on the early establishment of an agricultural work program under the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA).

Agriculture and Development Day was organized by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development, the Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, the International Federation of Agriculture Producers, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the Global Forum for Agricultural Research, the Earth System Science Partnership.

COP15 ‘Climate Thinkers’ Blog Features Farming First’s Thomas Rosswall

As part of its series of ‘climate thinkers’ blog posts, the COP15 website has featured an essay by Farming First’s Thomas Rosswall.

COP15 — as the 15th conference of parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is often referred — is where delegates will negotiate a successor protocol for reducing global emissions leading to climate change.  Its website has been a source of information and debate ahead of the negotiations themselves, which run from 7-18 December in Copenhagen.

Here is the text in full if you’d prefer reading it here:

Put Farming First

by Thomas Rosswall
Chairman, CGIAR Challenge Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)

Farmers are on the frontline of climate change.

By 2050, the world’s population is expected to increase from 6 to 9 billion people. Demand for carbon-intensive foods such as meats and oils is also expected to increase.

Meanwhile, yields from key staple crops are expected to decline, especially in many of the poorest countries, due to climate change.  Wheat yields in sub-Saharan Africa are expected to fall by 34% and rice output in South Asia by 14%.

In an earlier post on this blog, Kanayo Nwanze, IFAD’s President, outlines the link between food security and climate change.  Rather than repeating his message, I instead will focus on how this triple challenge of food security, rural livelihoods development, and environmental sustainability can be incorporated into future climate change strategies.

Silos are for farmers, not for climate thinkers.

Climate change impacts every link in the agricultural supply chain.  Smallholder African farmers already find new weather patterns undermining their traditional knowledge of when to plant and how to cultivate their crops.  Consumers, particularly in the developing world, still face high food prices and the threat of further price increases in the future.  Suppliers work around poor transport networks and unharmonised regulatory regimes. Scientists persevere in making their research relevant across disciplines and geographies as well as to farmers and policymakers.

The scale of this climate challenge requires all of these groups to work together with policymakers to find common objectives and solutions.  Farming First is a good example of an initiative which is already acting on this goal.  Farming First is made up of 124 organisations representing the world’s farmers, scientists, engineers and industry.

Farmers need roads; climate thinkers need roadmaps.

Agriculture generally, and farmers especially, are vital to mitigate and adapt to climate change.  Farmers are willing to play their part by adopting new practices which deliver our growing food needs in a carbon-efficient manner, but they cannot do so without our support.

Farmers cannot get to market without roads and other vital tools and technologies.  Effective infrastructure can help farmers improve their productivity, preventing deforestation and protecting biodiversity while supporting food security. We must also invest in knowledge sharing by creating a dedicated adaptation fund for agriculture which is accessible to farmers’ organisations in developing countries.

Addressing climate change through agriculture is certainly not beyond our capability, but it may well be beyond our current capacity.  Farmers need our long-lasting commitment if they are to achieve their true potential for sustainability based on the best local approaches.

The seeds of change must be nurtured and disseminated.

Many of the solutions for helping farmers address climate change already exist.  These successes need to be scaled up, and they must reach the farmers who need them most.   In addition to investments in road infrastructure linking farms to markets, solutions include integrated crop and pest management, no-till agriculture, intercropping, improved seeds, fertilizer best management practices and investment in storage facilities protecting crops after harvest.

But we must also use our current field of knowledge as the basis for further research and innovation to invent the necessary adaptation and mitigation solutions for the future.  For instance, researchers are beginning to use new satellite technology to determine what type of farming techniques are being used.  When matched with other agronomic and meteorological information, this mapping system can determine the amount of carbon being captured in the soil (the basis for a voluntary agricultural carbon trading scheme) and can supply farmers with more locally appropriate advice such as when to apply inputs, in what quantity to apply them, and when to harvest.

Copenhagen leaders should embrace the advances being made in measuring soil’s potential in sequestering carbon by including agriculture within multilateral financial mechanisms such as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Joint Implementation (JI).  They should also advocate for further robust methodologies and field-testing to overcome remaining uncertainties around measurement, reporting and verification.  At this critical and fragile interface of economic markets, our environment and human welfare, science has much to contribute.  Let us make good use of it.

Thomas Rosswall is the former Director of the International Council for Science (ICSU).  ICSU is one of the founding supporter organisations of Farming First.  Mr. Rosswall is currently the Chairman of the CGIAR Challenge Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture & Food Security (CCAFS).  He writes here in his capacity as a spokesperson for Farming First.