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Half time at the climate talks in Warsaw – what’s the score?

Posted by Christopher Neglia Friday, November 15, 2013

The climate change negotiations have reached the half way point here in Poland. Thousands of delegates are now bracing themselves for week two when more than a hundred ministers and senior government officials will head in to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP19 at the National Stadium in Warsaw.

Wendy Mann, is Senior Policy Adviser at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.

We asked her how the agricultural community here at COP19 felt after week one of negotiations?

WM I think that on the part of some, there is a certain frustration at the slow pace at which the issue is moving. However, at the in-sessional agriculture workshop on Tuesday there was an excellent, substantive and concrete discussion mainly on adaptation. Many of the countries that attended did prepare very well and are willing to discuss these substantive issues. Basically, I think there is some tension between formally moving forward and informally discussing the issues around agriculture. That’s where we are now.

What is best we can hope for from these negotiations?

WM We are not going to get much out of Warsaw. There will be a procedural decision to continue to discuss the agriculture issue based on the report of the in-sessional workshop and the submissions made already on the first day even prior to the workshop. G77 indicated that in accordance with the UNFCCC’s Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), 38 these discussions will be held at SBSTA 40 in May/June 2014, so right now we have no contact group and no substantive decision on the agricultural issue.

What for you would the most we could aspire to by Paris 2015?  

WM It would be helpful to move beyond these informal workshop type discussions to a programme where we could have similar discussions except we should structure it and pinpoint issues in a better way. If we had this type of work programme we could look at the options out there, and their cost and benefits for different geographic regions at different stages of development. Countries could then have on the table the particulars and options available. These need to be tailored. There’s no one size fits all and no silver bullet. This would be very helpful to countries trying to urgently embark on adaptation of their agricultural sector, particularly given the extreme events that are already effecting their agriculture sectors and food security,

How in the end do we get the money moving towards smallholder farmers to help them cope with climate change?

WM  The whole financing deal, not just the agricultural part, is still being discussed. The Green Climate Fund (GCF), which looks to be the major financing mechanism at the table, has moved forward quite rapidly in defining procedures and operating methods. But there’s been little discussion in the agricultural  community on how we can ensure the GCF will reward useful action in agriculture.

Agriculture was largely excluded from the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), we don’t want that again. We need the agricultural community to get its mind around financing to help countries and reward both adaptation and mitigation together. As the GCF is new we have a chance to make sure they do this.

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