Tackling Global Deforestation Emissions

47574086_322370901704236_7711810644088979456_nThe Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) organized a side event on Insights from REDD+ MRV process.  REDD+ involves the implementation of five activities and MRV stands for measuring, reporting, and verification. The event also included a panel of two countries, Malaysia and Ghana, and a LULUCF expert on their experiences with REDD+.

REDD+ MRV procedurally came from COP19 under the Warsaw Framework on REDD+. The full history on REDD+ can be found here.  Decision 13/CP.19 provided the guidelines and procedures for the technical assessment of submissions from Parties on proposed forest reference emission levels for forest reference levels. Decision 14/CP. 19 provided modalities for MRV. There are 4 steps of REDD+ MRV process which include: submission of FREL/RFL, technical assessment of FREL/FRL, submission of results as a technical annex to a BUR, and technical analysis of results.

Elizabeth Philips from Malaysia facilitated the REDD+ program in her country.  It has a system where forests are at a subnational jurisdiction.  They have a bottom-up apprREDDoach for REDD+. What they learned from this process was to have their regional experts improve the data by fixing soil carbon and looking into dead wood and dead matter. The technical assessment helped to bridge the gaps. “This was not just a system on paper, but one that has been implemented.”

Roselyn Fosuah Adjei from Ghana talked about her country’s draft submission to the UNFCCC. There are three areas that Ghana looked into: deforestation, forest degradation, and carbon stocks enhancement. One of the challenges they dealt with was illegality. Ghana’s IP based their data and maps on indigenous knowledge that is generationally passed down. Illegality was a concern because this knowledge was not recorded or stored anywhere. Ghana’s IP based their data and maps on indigenous knowledge that is generationally passed down. Due  They had some, but not all. Ghana does hope to submit a modification to its initial draft before going into the results based demonstration of REDD+.

Jason Funk, a LULUCF expert, spoke about his experience as an expert in this field. Due to the REDD+ MRV process as being more facilitative and constructive in nature, it is a collaboration with the country to work on their forest reference emissions level. His position is more of a peer review process that helps the country feel more confident about the work because of having someone else review the material.

Sharing of Knowledge Through Indigenous Peoples Platform

IPOBIn an exciting side event, the indigenous peoples (IP) of Bolivia and Chad shared experiences related to the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (LCIPP) implementation. The Bolivian Platform of Indigenous Originary Campesino Peoples Against Climate Change took a deep dive into the plurinational state of Bolivia. The Indigenous peoples of Africa Committee (IPACC) with the support of GIZ showcased a similar case-study in Chad.

The IP of Bolivia provided a brief history of how their lands were taken away from them. The area in the highlands and lowlands of Bolivia was described as “our Bolivia.” The original land inhabited by the indigenous peoples went all the way up into what is now Alaska. They “lived without problems without discrimination, harmoniously.” When the Spaniards arrived a fight for water and natural resources became continuous. “It was very expensive.”

The fight for their lands took time and was difficult, but progress has been made. IP are now recognized in the Constitution and an assembly made up of fifty percent women and fifty percent men was created. The country before had never had plurality and now they do.

“IP have always struggled,” a panelist said. Their fight for Mother Earth is just beginning and actors must come together to counteract climate change. “Mother Earth needs to be cared for.” “Within South America, we need to work harder to defend our land, territory, and water. “That’s how we will fight back climate change.”

2018-04-09_ibrahim_0Ms. Hindou Ibrahim Oumarou provided knowledge and experience from the perspective of an IP from Chad. In Chad, the IP live by a nomadic way of life. Which means they move from one place to another, depending on the season. They possess the knowledge to find water, to understand the weather, and how to adapt to climate change. The IP of Chad want to share their knowledge and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) helps them to do this.



Is There a Future For KJWA?

47086760_495482350942639_1883073697342816256_nThe Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA) workshop met for an informal consultation to discuss lingering concerns. What was expected to bring answers and resolutions instead turned into a match between two proposals. This interruption left Parties frustrated, asking for an informal informal consultation on Friday.

The floor opened for Parties to discuss how to move forward from the Monday workshop. Immediately,  Parties began raising their flags to speak. We were in for whirlwind discussion!

Argentina took the mic first, speaking on behalf of G77 and China. The Parties have been working on substantive conclusions under Koronivia. The draft conclusion text includes points on creating a map of work done by the constituted bodies (CBs) and inviting the bodies to discussions. G77 is interested in inviting CBs to be involved with the KWJA roadmap and asking that KWJA have guidelines for the next workshops. This proposal was initially endorsed by several Parties until Kenya chimed in.

Kenya holds firm that the secretariat should work with CBs and other bodies under the Convention to create a timeline of what these bodies are doing based on the five workshop outcomes and the outcomes of Koronivia. Transparency is necessary going forward and Kenya is eager to move onward with Koronivia.

Just when the discussion picked up pace, New Zealand (NZ) proposed a workshop on a topic that has yet to be discussed at COP24. NZ didn’t think the workshop on Monday went far enough in the discussion because it did not provide a conclusion on modalities and gaps. Therefore, NZ proposed a workshop for KJWA to move the conversation of agriculture forward by organizing a workshop on livestock.

Kenya vocalized its opinion on this proposal by saying “the topic of livestock ighg-1s not supposed to be addressed till mid-2020, but now NZ is trying to bring the topic to 2019.” Its concern stemmed from timing and how it would affect the current Koronivia roadmap. Norway shared a similar view that the work under KJWA should be complementary to the existing roadmap. Nevertheless, it found the proposal to strengthen the roadmap by addressing issues in more depth.

New Zealand countered criticisms by saying “it wants the proposal to support and complement the roadmap and the issues facing agriculture are worth the extra look and time. This would be a technical deep dive that can only foster, not harm, the discussion.”

The European Union (EU) wasn’t buying it. “If the NZ workshop on livestock is additional to the roadmap, then more time will be needed to discuss this proposal.” It stressed that there is simply not enough time to discuss this since the topic of livestock is already supposed to be discussed at SB 50. That time should be adequate. Therefore, the EU is not opposed to moving to an informal informal consultation.

I remain fairly optimistic about KJWA going forward. The Parties undoubtedly feel the pressure of moving forward and want to find a resolution. They are asking all the right questions, but remain frustrated without answers. Parties are working through informal informal meetings to finalize a conclusion. I forecast that they will reach a text, but not without obstacles.

Answering Tough Questions on Agriculture


The Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA) met for a second session on Monday and anticipates an informal meeting tomorrow. The second session offered few answers to questions posed in the first session but highlighted country and organization experiences implementing work related to agriculture and climate change with the help of constituted bodies. Countries found the examples helpful but still lacked the clarity to move forward under the KJWA.

Zambia, in collaboration with the constituted body LEG, integrated agriculture into its National Adaptation Plan (NAP-Ag) project. LEG supports partners under a country-driven process to identify and integrate climate adaptation measures for agricultural sectors into national planning and budgeting processes.

Information on the Adaptation Fund can be viewed in my colleague, Amanda’s blog. The questions asked by the EU included how to link the services to the farmers and what the timeline looked like. It was answered with “ the timeline depends on the context in each country. They first identify user needs and tailor to those needs. Then, identify how the system works, what is missing to understand the market, the best way to deliver the information, and how to fund it.” “It takes around 2 years.”

Climate Technology Centre and Network Advisory Board (CTCN) Technical Assistance in Viet Nam provided assistance in bio-waste minimization and valorization for low carbon production in the rice sector, particularly in south-east Asia. Thailand asked, “how would you link this with the national programs as this is a local one?” Kenya stressed, “who is funding this project?” Which was answered with, “funding by donor countries and the GCF to be distributed by priority.”

Food and Myanmar-Philippines-to-work-together-on-agricultural-developmentAgriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations provided examples of work with the Technology Mechanism: TEC and CTCN, CGE, LEG, and SCF. Questions Kenya included “when you look at the five workshops and with FAO being specialized body, how do you see the FAO helping countries to implement those outcomes and the current workshops in Koronivia? Think beyond 2020. What is the synergy? The answer included “supporting a country through GEF and refocusing climate change through the GCF.” “Also, working with a country with their problems and taking a realistic approach.” The second portion of this session focused on “looking ahead” and asked the questions talked about in Amanda’s blog.

  • Tunisa, on behalf of the African group, stressed that meeting with the constituted bodies to discuss how to integrate implementation of the outcomes of the five workshops would help address these questions.
  • The EU said “first, institutionalize involvement of the constituted bodies with KJWA and invite them to the workshops to keep the communication going.”
  • Brazil added “There is so much synergy and work KJWA can share.” “The Parties can strength the linkages to become available to them so KJWA can move forward.”
  • Uruguay, in line with Brazil spoke about how it is key to establish a two-way road between Koronivia and the constituted bodies. Strong communication is essential.
  • Kenya continued “ these are useful inputs, but curious why GCF did not present. (Amanda’s blog covers this top) The question of what to do with the outcomes of the five workshops and the five workshops under Koronivia was not addressed.

The presentations and discussions barely scratched the surface of questions asked. These lingering concerns most likely will be addressed at the informal session on Wednesday.

Where Do We Grow From Here?

The historical first workshop on the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA) took place on the second day of COP24. The discussion focused on the modalities for implementing the outcomes of the five in-session workshops on issues related to agriculture and other future topics that may arise from this work. There was more than what met the eye happening. The workshop revealed across-the-board concerns the parties had going forward.

kjwa24The decision, 4/CP.23, requests the SBSTA/SBI to jointly address issues related to agriculture, working with constituted bodies (CBs) under the Convention. Representatives of the CBs presented information on the following questions:

  1. What is the general mandate of the constituted body?
  2. How has the work of the constituted body contributed to Parties’ implementation of work on agriculture?
  3. How can the work of the constituted body help Parties to advance their work on agriculture?

The Adaptation Committee (AC) seeks to advance Parties’ work in agriculture by incorporating an agriculture lens into an upcoming technical paper on linkages between mitigation and adaptation. Additionally, the AC provides guidance to the Nairobi Work Programme on potential agriculture-related activities. Kenya proposed the questions “how do we see using Nairobi Work Programme to help agriculture or what can we do differently? Make it useful? To receive knowledge?” Kenya continuing, “what can we do as parties and the KJWA that can advance agriculture? How do we implement the outcomes of the five workshops? How can we help you?”

The Least Developed Countries Expert Group (LEG) are working on supplemental guidelines based on water, gender, agriculture, etc. Their percentage distribution of NAPA projects = 21% agriculture and food security. The European Union (EU) asked the question “how do you see the contents of 5 workshops useful to your work?” Uganda, looking at the key elements identified by the workshops, sought answers to “how can we increase the access of knowledge for farmers from the five workshops?” “How can we improve connectivity?”

The Standing Committee on Finance (SCF) has improved the coherence and coordination of climate change finance delivery. In SCF forums, agriculture has been addressed as well as forestry. “From the presentation, looking at the investment, how do you see the committee engaged in KJWA?” Kenya asked. Further, Uruguay inquired, “the reduction of emissions should be considered in agriculture, so how can we ensure that emission reduction is not an obstacle for implementation?”

The Climate Technology Centre and Network Advisory Board (CTCN) discussed how the CTCN can support a country’s agricultural systems by enhancing agricultural and rural development. CTCN can identify appropriate technology-neutral approaches that make agriculture more resilient. In response, Kenya explains “you are aware of the five topics and the last two require technology development and transfer under Koronivia. Has the CTCN considered the outcomes and topics under KJWA? What can parties do? How do we send a message to you to incorporate the topics discussed here?”

Climate-AgricultureConcerns going forward are apparent and have only minorly been addressed. The only known going forward is the procedure.  The Koronivia workshop will be meeting again on Wednesday.



Planting the Seed: Agriculture in Climate Negotiations

KJWA3With COP24 right around the corner, sights will be set on the newest agenda item, agriculture. In a landmark decision, Parties at COP 23 adopted the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA). This decision ended the six-year stalemate on how to address agriculture in the international climate talks. The KJWA “. . . seeks to develop and implement new strategies for adaptation and mitigation within the agriculture sector, that will help reduce emissions as well as build its resilience to the effects of climate change.” The inclusion of KJWA will support Parties’ goals of addressing climate change and food security.

The KJWA is in line with the Paris Agreement’s goal to keep the global temperature rise this century “well below 2⁰C” above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5⁰C. Globally, agriculture accounts for approximately 19-29% of greenhouse gas emissions, making agriculture vital to climate negotiations.

Under KJWA, SBSTA and SBI will jointly address agricultural issues through workshops and expert meetings, and by working with constituted bodies under the Convention. All bodies will consider agriculture’s vulnerability to climate change and approaches to addressing food security.

To start the work, key elements were identified. The agriculture issues include; methods for assessing adaptation, adaptation co-benefits and resilience; improved soil carbon, soil health and soil fertility under grassland and cropland; improved nutrient use and manure management towards sustainable and resilient agricultural systems; improved livestock management systems; and the socioeconomic and food security dimensions of climate change in the agricultural sector. By implementing these methods, emissions will be reduced and resilience in the agricultural sector will support food security.

Picture1At SBSTA /SBI 48, Parties set out a road map of work under the KJWA that includes six new workshops to be held sequentially up until COP26. The first Koronivia workshop will take place in Katowice and focus on modalities for implementing the outcomes of the preceding five in-session workshops on issues related to agriculture.

Several Parties and observer organizations have submitted comments for the first Koronivia workshop on agriculture. One of the most notable submissions came from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The submission stressed the importance of “facilitating knowledge exchange of information on good practices and lessons learned, capacity building for implementation and action in the agricultural sectors and enhancing access to climate finance in least developed and developing countries for the agricultural sector.” CGIAR System Organization, International Centre for Tropical Agriculture and the World Bank also submitted similar key messages.

Through submissions the message stressing the importance of agriculture in climate negotiations is clear. To address climate change and food security, agriculture must be considered in the negotiations.




How Does a 2⁰C Increase in Global Temperature Impact Food Security?

Climate change, food security821 million people.

Nearly 821 million people across the world are food insecure, according to the 2018 State of Food Insecurity (SOFI) report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). This means that they do not have adequate access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy life. Evidence indicates that this number will likely increase if the global atmospheric temperature continues to rise.

The Guardian recently reported on a study by the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A on the impacts of allowable temperature rise of 1.5⁰C and 2⁰C. It found that vulnerability to food insecurity increases more at 2°C global warming than at 1.5°C, due to climate-induced drought and precipitation changes. Of all natural hazards, the SOFI report highlights that “floods, droughts and tropical storms affect food production the most. Drought causes more than 80 percent of the total damage and losses in agriculture.”

Maximum temperature, the percentage of days with extreme daily temperatures, the number of consecutive dry days, and the maximum rainfall in a 5-day period were measured to reach temperature impact conclusions. At a 2°C warmer world, the land areas mostly warm by more than 2°C. In some regions, like North America, China, and Europe, the daily high temperature increases could be double that of the globe on average. Southern Africa, the Mediterranean, Australia and northeast South America are projected to have increased dry spell lengths. Rainfall is projected to increase over many regions including parts of southeast Asia, northern Australia and the east coast of the USA.food-security

The impacts on food security at an increase of 1.5°C global temperature are smaller than at 2°C. Drought and flooding are more extreme at an increase in global temperature of 2°C. The SOFI report noted the number of extreme climate-related disasters has doubled since the early 1990s. These disasters harm agricultural productivity contributing to shortfalls in food availability, hiked up food prices, and the loss of income reducing people’s access to food.

Why are these temperatures important? The Paris Agreement’s goal is to keep the global temperature rise this century “well below 2⁰C” above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5⁰C. This goal is outlined in Art 2 of the PA and aligns with the UNFCCC’s Art 2 objective to “stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”

Current IPCC reports model proposed mitigation pathways on limiting warming to 2°C. In early October, the IPCC will publish a report that remodels needed mitigation outcomes based on a 1.5°C limit. FAO has sounded the alarm for why less warming is critical to our food security and underscored why this new IPCC report is needed.  At COP24, Parties will be faced with this new evidence as they negotiate the rules for implementing the Paris Agreement.