Setting a vision for agricultural transformation under climate change

Lili Szilagyi and Fabian Verhage (CCAFS)

Originally posted here.

At COP23, we kicked off the Agriculture Advantage event outlining the framework for agricultural development under climate change.

Both part of the cause of climate change, but also part of the solution, agriculture is central to any debate on global warming and extreme weather events. The interactions between the agricultural sector and climate change have undeniable implications for both global food security and our environment.

The Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) under the Paris Agreement overwhelmingly prioritise the sector for climate action. 119 countries include agricultural mitigation in their INDCs, and of the 138 countries that include adaptation, almost all (127) include agriculture as a priority (Richards et al. 2016). Agriculture is also key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals set by countries.

“Agriculture Advantage: The case for climate action in agriculture” is an initiative and collaboration effort between different organizations with the same mission to transform agricultural development in the face of climate change. The event aims to articulate the different dimensions of climate actions in the agricultural sector.

At the opening event, speakers set the vision and discussed the different dimensions of climate action in agriculture, as a prelude to the six events organized on more specific topics during the COP23.

Watch the video recording of the event:

Simon Winter, Executive Director of Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture gave a presentation on the need for effective multi-stakeholder engagement to deal with the complex challenges of climate change.

He stressed the importance of investing in smallholder agriculture, highlighting the challenges of such investments:

"Many insurance projects have failed to achieve the scale to outlive the grants that funded them. Premium subsidies can help drive adoption, but are not always available, and may well not be sustained. Furthermore, even where they work, insurance products alone are not enough."

He also expressed the importance of private-public partnerships and scaling up solutions. Though much work has been done in the past in the private-public partnership arena, "we need to do more in order to have system-wide, landscape-level and, in due, course country-wide impacts that improve smallholders' ability to deal with climate change risks and invest in modernisation of their farming enterprises."

Photo of Bruce Campbell at the opening event. Photo: Michael Major (Crop Trust)
Bruce Campbell, Director of CCAFS, delivered his presentation on a vision for agricultural transformation under climate change.

He argued that agricultural transformation is crucial for various reasons. For example, it's unacceptable that almost a billion people are going hungry, while we waste one third of the food we produce. Agriculture is also a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions therefore focus on mitigation is crucial.

Many organizations, such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the African Development Bank, to mention a few, are behind the agricultural transformation agenda.