In December, the United Nations Climate Change Conference will meet in Copenhagen, with the goal of agreeing on a new global treaty for the post-Kyoto Protocol period beyond 2012.
Agriculture is the vital link between feeding a growing population and preserving the planet we live on. It is crucial that the new treaty recognizes that connection.
When world leaders pledged US$20 billion for the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative in July, it was a clear signal that governments recognized the vital importance of investing in agriculture, especially sustainable smallholder agriculture. This is an important step, but even more will need to be done if we are to double food production in developing countries to meet projected demand by 2050 and meet the MDGs targets by 2015. An estimated US$49 billion to US$171 billion per year will be needed for adaptation alone by 2030.
We are already seeing the effects of climate change on agriculture in developing countries. Crop failures and livestock deaths are causing economic losses, contributing to higher food prices and undermining food security with ever-greater frequency, especially in parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Some rainfed crop yields could drop by 50 per cent by 2020 in some countries.
Over two billion rural women and men in Africa, Asia and Latin America depend on smallholder farms. They have a key role to play in bringing sustainable solutions to the challenges of today and tomorrow, such as how to achieve food security for all and cope with climate change.
Why is agriculture important in climate change talks?
Agriculture is one of the sectors most vulnerable to climate change; it is also a major contributor to greenhouse gases; and it is the main source of income for most of the world’s 1.4 billion poor people.
In addressing the challenge of food security and climate change, there are three inter-related challenges:
- First, we must double food production by 2050 to meet growing world demand
- Second, we must adapt agricultural production to shifting weather patterns
- Third, we must minimize agriculture’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions while maximizing its potential to mitigate climate change
What needs to be done?
To meet these challenges we will need substantial new resources, new ideas, and new ways of doing business.
New finance is essential because the reality is that climate change is making development more costly. The pledge of US$20 billion at the G8 Summit in L’Aquila is an important step, but we have a lot further to go.
We must also change the way we do business by adopting strategies that are all-inclusive. In particular, we will not succeed in climate change adaptation or mitigation unless the private sector plays a leading role.
Effective action on the ground will require the full engagement of small and large-scale farmers, rural credit cooperatives, global engineering firms, carbon trading firms, and fertilizer producers – to name but a few.
On 9 October, in Bangkok, Thailand, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) concluded its penultimate negotiating session before the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 15) in Copenhagen, 7-18 December. Thanks to a last push, there is now the beginning of an understanding that it is important for agriculture not only to be on the Copenhagen agenda but also on the agenda for the post-Copenhagen work programme.
In the margins of the meeting, IFAD made a presentation on behalf of the Global Donor Platform on Rural Development focusing on agriculture in the climate change negotiations, more specifically on the need for:
- clarity on agriculture-related follow-up to Copenhagen
- reflecting the potential multiple benefits of agriculture investments (which typically do not fit into ‘mitigation’ or ‘adaptation’ boxes)
- resolving monitoring, reporting and verification of actions (MRV) and accounting issues on agriculture
- a credible and equitable deal that reaches rural poor people – many of whom are subsistence and smallholder farmers.
What is IFAD’s response to climate change?
The decision to create IFAD was taken in 1974 in the wake of the great droughts and famines that struck Africa and Asia in the preceding years. We work mainly in marginal, rainfed areas that are at risk from water shortage, land degradation and desertification. This is why adaptation to climate variability and strengthening resilience to environmental stress have always been part of IFAD’s work.
In response to the growing magnitude of climate change, IFAD is increasingly integrating adaptation into its operations and contributing to mitigation programmes to make them beneficial to poor rural people. By listening to the voices of poor rural people when planning adaptation and mitigation processes, we can reduce the risks of climate change, while accelerating progress towards a world without poverty.
Historic UN leadership forum on climate change builds political momentum
Nearly 200 leaders of global business and civil society organizations met with Heads of State and Government from more than 50 nations at the United Nations headquarters in New York in September to convey their support for a balanced, fair and effective global climate agreement.
The UN Leadership Forum on Climate Change, organized by the UN Global Compact in collaboration with a broad group of UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes, marked the first time that the United Nations brought chief executives together with Government leaders to build political momentum for a climate agreement.
The worldwide, UN-led Seal the Deal Campaign aims to galvanize political will and public support for reaching a comprehensive global climate agreement in Copenhagen in December.
The Pacific islands of Kiribati were among the last places to be colonized by humans. But now, because of rising sea levels, they may be among the first to be abandoned. Should Kiribati President Anote Tong surrender to climate change and evacuate? Can anything be done to help him buy more time? Sit back and watch this documentary
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