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IFAD at the Development & Climate Days at COP22

Posted by Beate Stalsett Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Written by: Ilaria Firmian

Just like last year in Paris, IFAD participated in the Development & Climate Days during COP22.

Following the success of last year's Taste the Change session on rethinking our climate choices through food, this year IFAD brought the artist Silas Birtwistle to contribute to a session on  ‘Climate, Culture and Cuisine: A taste of what’s to come’.

Links between culture and food

What is the link between the 16th century painter Arcimboldo, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper and a decorated ancient Egyptian pottery?

They all represent grapes and wheat, crops that are currently affected by climate change impacts, which means that they might no longer be represented as common goods on Mediterranean tables in the future.

©IFAD/I. Firmian

The participants shared their reflections on the existing linkages between cultural identity and food. These linkages are currently under threat because of climate change and its effects on agricultural production.
"Art can ask questions, start our imaginations, we can
think of the world in a different way," said Birtwistle
about his upcoming art work in collaboration
with IFAD. 

At the same time the participants agreed that food and art can be used to communicate messages about climate to a broad audience and eventually bring behavioural change - because for behavioural change to happen being inspired at a personal level is what matters. And the more senses that are involved in this process, the more effective is the learning and possibly the change.

Silas Birtwistle introduced his upcoming art work in collaboration with IFAD: human heads made entirely of fruit and vegetables sourced locally from around  Cancun and under threat from the changing climate in Mexico.  He will use them to sensitize negotiators at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP13) next month.

"Art can ask questions, start our imaginations, we can think of the world in a different way," said Birtwistle. "Part of what I am attempting to do is shine a light on the big picture while looking at the miniatures, at the microcosms, and give voice to the people who have helped me to do that in different places."


Building resilience in communities

With a similar but different approach, a group of young Moroccan chefs presented their recipes to shift consumption away from such a meat-based diet.

‘Climate, Culture and Cuisine’ was just one among many sessions that touched different topics, from social protection, to indigenous knowledge, to linkages between research and action.

©IFAD/I. Firmian


With the innovative and highly participatory interaction that always characterizes the Development & Climate Days virtual reality, poems and even flash mobs, were used to communicate messages that stand at the core of IFAD’s business. To quote Mary Robinson’s words during the high-level closing panel ‘I am pleased by the emphasis on building resilience in communities that was run through all sessions in this meeting. The local is as important as the national and the global when it comes to implementation’



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