Voices from COP20, Lima

Written by Jessica Morgan

Aside from the political dimension, whereby the world’s governments are seeking a binding treaty for cutting greenhouse emissions, the UN climate summit in Lima, COP20, is a place where people from all over the world to meet and talk about climate change. 

IFAD is in Lima to share its experience on adapting to climate change with smallholder farmers through the Adaptation for Smallholder Farmers Programme (ASAP) and learn from others working in the same area.  

Smallholder farmers are at the frontline of climate change with their livelihoods and food security at stake. In developing countries, smallholders are the among the people most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Following the opening plenary I asked some of the participants what they were hoping to come out of this key meeting in Lima, and more importantly, how the climate summit will relate to smallholder farmers in developing countries.

A volunteer from the UN’s World Food Programme said that: 

“Smallholder farmers are the least responsible yet feel the effects of climate change the most. People need to realise that while targets and fixed agreements between developed and less developed countries to reduce emissions are of course essential, the people that are really feeling these effects are those whose voices are not properly heard.” 

“Hopefully we can begin to see that the issues of smallholder farmers and indigenous peoples need to be addressed, and it’s looking like things could be heading in the right direction at this COP.” 

Jessica Olson from the Sierra Student Coalition said: 

“Food is one of the most close relationships we have with the earth so that would be something I would like to see addressed here at COP.”

“It’s important to look at the science behind this as seen in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report."

The IPCC report showed us how seriously affected smallholder farmers already are by the negative impacts of global warming.

“Biodiversity around farms is a highly important element in our food process and is not getting the attention it deserves.” 

Professor Juan Montes at the International Technical Cooperation and Development Department of the National University of San Martin in Peru said that: 

In Peru there are many smallholder farmers and hopefully the climate summit is addressing the issues that these people face due to climate change. Smallholder farmer's vulnerability to climate change needs to be addressed along with food security and environmental impact.