By: Alessia Valentini
Climate change, food insecurity and environmental disasters are inextricably linked to one another and strengthening resilience to climate change for farmers and communities is key to sustainability. This was the main message at today’s COP20 side event on Building Resilience to Climate Change and Managing Disaster Risks through Sustainable Agriculture.
This event was co-organized by the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO), Caritas International, the International Federation for Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
Farmers and experts from international organizations and civil society, who directly experience the need for climate-resilient agriculture and risk management, presented best practices and proposed solutions to reduce climate change impacts on agriculture and food security.
“Now that the world has realized the importance of climate change and has developed an increased awareness towards this issue, we must understand where farmers stand, what their role is and how can we help them,” said moderator Adriana Opromolla, from Caritas International.
Mr Charles Ogang, President of the WFO in Kampala, said that Uganda has already felt the impacts of climate change in the form of different hazards that are effecting the entire value chain. In response the organization supports and promotes activities such as: fasting mature varieties; avoiding bush burning; managing water on a small scale; supplementing pastures; conserving agriculture; supporting crop insurance; promoting post-harvest management and introducing silo systems.
The Latin American Office Co-ordinator for IFOAM, Ms Patricia Flores Escudero, stated that: “It is time for the voices of farmers to be heard”. The solution proposed by IFOAM was based on organic agriculture. She proposed a cleaner production system that does not harm the environment and combines traditional and modern technologies to improve the livelihood of those who participate in it. Organic agriculture promotes the health of soils, plants, animals and human beings and it has to be managed in a responsible manner in order to safeguard the health of future generations.
Mr Jorge Lafosse, National Director of Caritas in Peru, believes that: “Adaptation is not a technical theme, it is a moral and ethical imperative”. Climate change effects are increasing in Peru with increased incidence of floods, droughts, diseases such as malaria and dengue, pests in agriculture and difficulty in water management because of the radical change in rain dynamics. “An immediate response to climate change problems is needed, in order to guarantee food security to farmers”.
The National Coordinator for Caritas in Brazil, Ms Jaime Conrado Oliveira, talked about the long experience that Caritas Brazil has with smallholder agriculture in the semi-arid regions of Brazil, where livelihoods are affected by climate change on an area of 980,000 Km2. Their experience has been disseminated through trainings targeted in particular to youth. “Technology needs to be accompanied by capacity building activities and sensitisation, that give information about the ecological specificities of the area and how these can be addressed”.
IFAD also believes that smallholders play an important role in the solution to climate change. Through its Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP), the world’s largest climate change adaptation programme, IFAD channels more than US$350 million to at least 8 million smallholder farmers. “Smallholders are our clients and we work to build their resilience to climate-related shocks and stresses” said Ms Estibalitz Morrás Dimas, Portfolio Officer from IFAD’s Environment and Climate division. “Our objectives are to encourage better analysis of the climate risk and promote new technologies and new partnerships, in order to achieve development while preserving biological diversity”.
Many interventions from the floor followed the presentations, leaving space to further discussions on important issues, such as: What is the definition of a climate smart agriculture? Are GMO seeds really climate smart? Where is the place of livestock when disasters struck? Are social changes like migration receiving enough attention?