Koronivia Joint Work Programme News Feed

One week after the draft conclusions for the the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA) were submitted, and the subsidiary bodies concluded their independent negotiations, representatives from Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, and France addressed the media about the work done and conclusions made at the completion of KJWA’s work at COP24.

The panel had a lukewarm response to the outcome of the first “Road Map” workshop since the 4/CP.23 mandate.  The representative from Rwanda was very disappointed about the lack of “welcome” for the IPCC 1.5 Report, which he said is a joke to African countries in particular, who are living the harsh realities of climate change now.  Mr. Bassey of Nigeria emphasized the role of small scale farmers moving forward in response to our changing climate.  Agriculture that works with local knowledge, without the extensive chemical inputs commonly associated with industrial agriculture – farming that “can be done on the streets” – is how we need to move forward with farming our fields and feeding our families.

Modalities and procedures for the implementation of the KJWA were the focus of these joint SBI/SBSTA meetings.  But South Africa’s representative noted that developing Parties, particularly the Africa Group, felt that little support for implementation came to fruition, with finance remaining as the primary roadblock moving forward.  Panelists believe guidelines need to reflect a just socioeconomic basis for food security: adaptation, absolute emissions reductions, ecological integrity, and gender responsiveness.

The session concluded with a question posed by an audience member who, like myself, was unable to attend much of last week’s negotiations – “how can other organizations such as Latin American groups participate in the SBI/SBSTA joint meetings next year?”

The French panelist who promoted France’s sustainable Agroecology initiatives responded by emphasizing engagement in the KJWA workshops via the Submissions Portal.  Participation by all parts of the agricultural community, not just Parties, is key.  Screen Shot 2018-12-14 at 1.59.02 PMWe need to ask questions, offer solutions, and promote an inclusive, equitable, just future for those feeling the drastic effects of climate change already.  As the Nigerian representative concluded, “we have the wisdom, we have the knowledge. We need to share it.”  Lots of experience from the global South remains to be shared by the farmer-scientists who have the tools and must feed the way!


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.

 

 


Answering Tough Questions on Agriculture

Koronivia

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.

STAY TUNED FOR MORE.

 


Adaptation and GCF at the Koronivia Workshop

Today was our delegation’s first day at COP24 in Katowice, Poland. The experience was a whirlwind. We all were figuring out where to go for meetings, identifying who was speaking for each Party, and how to best soak in all the activities of COP. We attended sessions in our area of expertise, and sometimes those sessions overlapped areas of expertise. The Koronivia Workshop was such a program with an overlap between adaptation and agriculture.

The Koronivia workshop was split into sessions: morning and afternoon. Both sessions included adaption and financing discussions. Presenters offered a PowerPoint about projects in their respective countries. The agenda can be found here.

At the end of the afternoon session, countries and NGOs were able to contribute to an open discussion. The Co-Facilitators opened the floor to discuss three questions about the constituted bodies (CBs), useful modalities to implement outcomes from the workshops, and future topics that may arise from the outcomes. Suggestions from the countries were helpful and constructive, but there was no decision made on how to proceed. Check the blog tomorrow for more specific answers given to the above questions from our ag expert, Liz.

One concerning question was raised about the role of the GCF. A GCF representative was present; however, GCF did not give a formal presentation because the workshop was focused on Parties and CBs. The GCF is not a CB, so its role in Koronivia is not mandatory. But the GCF representative stated that many projects currently funded by the GCF are agriculture focused and expressed that the GCF will continue to fund similar programs. GCF addressed concerns about their funding process. GCF guided all Parties to provide more information about their projects to develop tailor-made funding efforts. GCF can, and will, support climate resilient agriculture. Each country needs to request to funding in order for funds to be dispersed to their project.

The workshop concluded with the announcement that there will be an informal consultation on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018, at noon to discuss some issues that were not addressed during this workshop. For information on the first session, and an overview of the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture, please see this blog post.


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.

 

 

 


Intentions and Realities: A case for better fund management

Uganda ChildrenOne of the biggest hang-ups to addressing climate change is finance.  How are research projects funded?  How are solutions funded so that they can be implemented at a meaningful scale?  While finance was not my area of focus at COP 23, it certainly came up concerning “agriculture, forestry, and other land use” issues (AFOLU).  One of the most impressionable moments I had at COP 23 concerned finance for adaptation in agriculture.

At a side event for “addressing climate change for a world free of hunger, malnutrition and poverty,” the conversation among the facilitators and stakeholders seemed collaborative.  Then, Kagandga John, the Executive Director of Kikandwa Environmental Association (KEA) of Uganda, spoke.  He started slowly, thanking the Chair and other members joining the roundtable discussion.  He expressed his gratitude that finally agriculture and food security were being talked about seriously.  Then his voice escalated.  “You sit here and talk about funding innovative projects in agriculture.  You even continue to suggest new pilot projects for our region.”  At this point, he became animated, his voice nearing a crescendo.  “But I will tell you now that WE ALREADY KNOW how to adapt our farming to climate change!  Stop funding new pilot projects!  Start funding projects that already work.  Come to Uganda, we will show you.”

Part of the financing problem appears to be the mismanagement of available funds.  Is this possible?  For developing countries like Uganda, this inefficiency must be very frustrating.  After the meeting, I spoke with Kagandga John.  I learned that the education center in the Mityana district of Uganda that educates children about the environment and climate change must close due to lack of financial support from the local and international community.

Surely there is a better way to manage funds for developing nations.


Adaptation for Profit: Increasing agriculture productivity without compromise?

large agAre you a capitalist?

This was the question asked of the attendees of “The Business Advantage: Scaling up Private Sector Climate Action in Agriculture” side event at COP 23.  None of us admitted to being a capitalist.  But then we were ask if we valued social or environmental economy.  The unanimous answer was, yes.  “Well..,” said Tony Simons, Director of ICRAF, “…you are a capitalist.”

The most basic notion of capitalism is to take actions to maximize something.  Thus, if we choose to maximize anything, even something like social well-being or the world’s natural systems, we are capitalizing.  We are capitalists.  So what does this have to do with how the private sector can contribute to climate change mitigation?  According to Simons and a panel of representatives from IFAD and CGIAR, joining hands with the private sector is the most feasible way to spread climate-smart agricultural (CSA) practices.  But first, we must dispel the common belief that capitalism itself is an evil within a system.

If we are to realize food security, and mitigation and adaptation in the agricultural sector, the panel argued that innovations in agriculture need to be scaled up.  The panel asserted that there are ways to intensify farming practices as to realize system efficiency.  This would mean realizing higher yields and increased meat production while reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with agriculture.  While, there were various techniques discussed, there was no forthright application of science offered.  Nonetheless, the general consensus was that these techniques needed to be communicated to the private sector and financial institutions needed to be convinced of them.  After all… scaling up of agricultural innovations costs money.  But apparently, this will not happen without joining hands with the private, industrial agriculture sector.

small scaleWhile scaling up innovations to take climate action in the agriculture sector makes good sense, I left the event troubled by two thoughts.  First, the concept of establishing global CSA practices requires bridging the gap between the small-scale and industrial farmer and providing funding to the small-scale farmer to take on these innovations.  Unfortunately, lending institutions are not amiable to doling out large quantities of small loan amounts.  But this is precisely what needs to happen if small-scale farmers are going to scale-up CSA.  Thus, the paradox. If small farmers are going to scale up CSA, they need funding to do it.  But a lending institution wants to see a “bankable” project before lending- something a small farmer cannot show without some financial assistance.  It’s a catch-22.

Furthermore, if the private sector is going to get on board, they must be able to make a profit.  “Profitability should be the angle of approach,” they said.  “The private sector can contribute to NDCs in terms of mitigation, but it will not do so without realizing tangible (financial) benefits.”  And indeed this is so.  One corporate food and agriculture representative who sat on the panel assured us that sustainable, climate-smart agriculture was in their best interest.  Yet, she noted that her corporation’s first priority was yield, then resilience.  Is it really possible to increase productivity without compromising the climate system…or the corporate bottom line?

What seemed conveniently left out of this equation in the end was social and environmental economy.  After all, are we not all capitalists?


A Caffeine Constrained World

At the 23rd Conference of Parties (COP 23), Denise Loga, Co-founder and Managing Director of the Sustainable Food Academy, brought to light the issue of food security in changing climate. She recognized that the earth cannot sustain humanity’s current food systems. Unsustainable patterns of human consumption paired with climate change lends kindling to an already robust fire.

Climate change is resulting in sea level rise, increased extreme weather variability, and fluctuating temperatures. These characteristics of climate change affect crop yields and survival, threaten the livelihoods of farmers, disrupt economic production and supply chains, and threaten food security within vulnerable countries. According to State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI), approximately 815 million people are undernourished. This number is likely to rise as climate change decreases food security, which puts pressure on government food security strategies.

For example, coffee is a particularly climate-sensitive plant and is already experiencing decreased yield due to climate change. In a joint study by the the International Center for Tropical Agriculture under the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, coffeedownload production in Brazil is predicted to see a drop by 25% by 2050 and Indonesia production is likely to drop by 37% by 2050. The loss of the valuable coffee trade is likely to impact developing countries disproportionally as coffee as a key export of developing nations. These countries are also tend to have the highest malnourishment and poverty rates. Adding economic pressure to countries in this position would further exacerbate domestic issues. This is one example among many in which the loss of a food resource has drastic impacts upon humans.

Loss of food security is an natural consequence of a rapidly changing climate. Due to the disproportionate impact upon developing countries, measures should be taken to ensure food security within those countries most vulnerable. This requires countries to take action to mitigate the effects of climate change and provide relief and aid to those countries in need. Without action on a significant scale, impacts on food security will be felt globallymap_c3_a3_50map_c1_a1_50


Future of the Adaptation Fund: Developing Countries vs. Developed Countries

adaptation-fund-logoThe Adaptation Fund (AF) is a mechanism created through the Marrakesh Accords but funded through the Clean Development Mechanisms (CDMs) described in the Kyoto Protocol. The intention of the COP in the creation of the AF is the facilitation and funding of adaptation projects in developing countries to strengthen their resistance to climate change. Two percent of the funds invested in CDMs go to the Adaptation Fund where the money can then be divvied out to developing countries when they send in proposals. But the Kyoto Protocol was only intended to last ten years. Enacted in 2010, the Kyoto Protocol will reach its end in 2020 and with the end of the Kyoto Protocol comes the end of CDMs, and thus the end of the funding for the Adaptation Fund.

At COP23 there have been significant concerns about the future of the Adaptation Fund, where future funding will come from, and if that means the Fund will operate in the same manner as before. But these issues, as most do, draw a dividing line between developing countries and developed countries. In the most recent review of the Adaptation Fund in COP23, developing countries continued to emphasize the critical nature of the Fund in providing critical finasudanncial assistance as these countries attempt to adapt to the increasing effects of climate change. Many developing countries have emphasized the need for the increase in the scope of the Adaptation Fund, finding the review of the Adaptation Fund Board too narrow and limiting the abilities of these countries to acquire necessary funding. Developing countries also emphasized the need for certain aspects of the Fund that have caused them concern. This includes predictability, adequacy, and consistency. In particular, the Least Developed Countries negotiating group advocated for a further integration of the Adaptation Fund into the Paris Agreement in order to facilitate the continuance of the Fund and the assistance it provides to the LDCs.

Developed countries, on the other hand, had little opinions on the continuation of the Adaptation Fund. In the Marrakesh Accords, the purpose of the Fund was intended to assist in developing countries on their climate change resilience initiatives. No benefit was gleaned by the developed countries in the implementation of this Fund. And they will glean no benefit from the continuance of this Fund under the Paris Agreement. But there was no equal assessment in how to address the Adaptation Fund from the perspectives of the developed countries. Some countries enjoyed the small-scale implementation techniques that function well through the Adaburkina_faso_tearfund1_1ptation Fund. Other countries advocated for the continuous improvement of the Adaptation Fund to reinforce the constantly changing needs of developing countries. Overall, developed nations appeared to be ambivalent towards the Adaptation Fund and its future; striving forward to complete the agenda item with as little fanfare as possible.

The future could be bright for the Adaptation Fund. It has the ability to further the needs of developing countries to reduce the damage sustained in the ever-increasing extreme weather and natural disasters the world is facing. But if actions aren’t taken in COP23 and future COPs then when the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2020 those funds will be out of view for the vulnerable countries that need it.


Unlocking the secrets of the past

thulo-sailungIn adapting to climate change, the decision makers of today can find great wisdom in the traditional knowledge of indigenous people. Traditional farming practices can offer a huge potential for resilience and adaptation to climate change. In Kenya, for example, traditional varieties of plants are more genetically diverse than modern varieties, and are better able to withstand more environmental stress.

Yet climate change has resulted in a double threat to these varieties: first, communities have suffered loss of the plants themselves; second, they have suffered the loss of traditional knowledge associated with the success of those plants. Given the large potential for traditional knowledge in building resilience, organizations like Caritas are working to resurrect local and traditional knowledge that can spread the seeds for climate resilience.

Another example can be found in the rain shadow of the Himalayas. The Lo people of Nepal–equipped with traditional knowledge on how to manage local irrigation–have transformed their arid, dry village into green agriculture fields they use during the summer. The village of the Lo people is 3,000 to 4,200 meters above sea level, with temperatures that drop to as low as -20 degrees Celsius in the winter. Transforming these harsh environments to lush, green fields is certainly a talent worth learning.

Traditional knowledge relevant to adaptation can also help individuals better predict weather patterns. Further, using traditional knowledge gives a voice to the people on the ground when searching for solutions to climate change. Women in particular have a major role when it comes to this traditional knowledge.

At COP 21, the parties recognized the need to strengthen knowledge, technologies, practices, and efforts of local communities and indigenous peoples when it comes to climate change. The COP thus established a platform for the exchange of experiences and the sharing of best practices on mitigation and adaptation in a holistic and integrated manner.

But the COP could go much further in operationalizing this language. And that’s exactly what  the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) and others have called for the COP to do. The COP thus needs to continue to think globally, but start “doing” locally. Relying on traditional knowledge is one way to bridge that wide gap.

 

 


Science and Adaptation: Prevention is the Key

Cyclone_NargisCOP23 is significantly emphasizing the impact of extreme weather on climate change adaptation. This issue is even more prevalent with the major weather events that have occurred in the past several months: intense hurricanes in the Caribbean and the southern United States, flooding in South East Asia, and severe drought on the West Coast of the U.S. and northern China. In the opening plenary of the COP23, the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) laid out our past and our future projections: the outlook was grim. This past year was one of three hottest years on record, with these past five years being the warmest average since the WMO began monitoring in the 1850’s. And unfortunately, these severe weather events tend to impact the most vulnerable communities in the world.

The majority of hungry people live in the most disaster-prone areas of the world, creating an ever-continuous cycle of lack of food and further destruction. But these disasters are usually predictable: we can predict floods, typhoons, and droughts. Science has created a system of which we have a better understanding of how these systems work, when they will come, the effect they will have, and potential steps we can take to avoid their impact.

global-temp-and-co2-1880-2009Article 7.7(c) of the Paris Agreement emphasizes adaptation to climate change, specifically with respect to increased technology and science to prevent the impacts of climate change. But the first step to prevention is warning. The Global Climate Observing System has determined seven global climate indicators to assist in the determination of the status of climate change. These indicators include surface temperature, ocean warming, atmospheric CO2, ocean acidification, sea level rise, glacier mass balance, Arctic and Antarctic sea ice level. These indicators give scientists better understanding and mechanisms of the impacts of climate change. Policymakers and scientists can then turn around and implement these impacts into cohesive plans to adapt to the ever-increasing harm from climate change, using these indicators to better predict where future harms will likely occur.

thailands-rice-farmersThe UN and NGO’s have recognized the importance of science and planning in the implementation of adaptation plans to create better systems for individuals that live in the most prone areas. One particular group, the World Food programme, began implementing investment opportunities in local crops, reducing the focus to small community projects. These investment plans allowed farmers more security in their crops and gave them the ability to invest in better equipment and increased opportunities for advancement of their farming practices. Overall, by ensuring the farmer’s crops, especially in areas that are of greatest concern to climate change, the economy of the entire area was boosted.

Science plays an important role in understanding climate change. But science should also play an important role in the solution. By using the science that is already in place, communities and NGOs can establish better mechanisms for adapting to climate change and the harms that inevitably come with them. Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the WMO, warned that these severe weather events we have been observing are only the beginning. If there is no mitigation of climate impacts then the events will only get worse. But before mitigation can make any significant impact, countries must adapt. They must adapt to the impacts of climate change and science can be there, guiding them on their way to more sustainable development and security.


Agriculture’s Great Rising

 

Photo credit: “Food Sovereignty: Sustainable Urban Agriculture in Cuba”, at https://www.globalresearch.ca/food-sovereignty-sustainable-urban-agriculture-in-cuba/5332167.

Photo credit: “Food Sovereignty: Sustainable Urban Agriculture in Cuba”, at
https://www.globalresearch.ca/food-sovereignty-sustainable-urban-agriculture-in-cuba/5332167.

La Via Campesina, an NGO devoted to peasants’ rights and food sovereignty, hosted an event dedicated to agroecology at the opening of the COP 23. La Via Campesina takes an alternative approach to agriculture, denouncing any industrial and capitalist attitude toward food production. Under an industrial and capitalist approach, food is exported to countries continents away, and not used to feed the population of countries where it’s grown. Under the approach of La Via Campesina, peasants–a pre-industrial term that the group revives to distinguish itself from giant agriculture companies–produce food to feed people locally, and can designate where they want their produce to go. In the panel, La Via Campesina argued that the industrial food system–including not just agriculture, but transportation, packaging, and deforestation–is responsible for around 50% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The silver lining of this number means that agriculture is an area with great potential for improvement in terms of cutting emissions. But emissions aren’t the only problem: in the eyes of one member, giant agrochemical companies like Monsanto are “experimenting“ on the best land of more vulnerable states like Puerto Rico. Instead, to pave the way to food security and environmental justice, La Via Campesina–Spanish for “the peasant way”–urges everyone to take the road less travelled toward food sovereignty and agroecology.

 


Food Sovereignty: An Adaptation and Mitigation Tool

peru_woman (1)When nations recognized the need to mitigate climate change by finding ways to reduce carbon emissions, emissions from the agriculture sector were not readily considered a priority.  In fact, some claim that parties intentionally kept agriculture off the negotiating table in terms of mitigation because… well, everyone needs food.  Furthermore, global population growth and a shortage in food security for some due to climate change would require that global food output increase. With the advent of GMOs and global transport, supplying food to vulnerable populations seemed the obvious answer.  And because mitigation played such a prominent role in the UNFCCC Conference of Parties’ negotiations initially, the need for adaptation in our food systems was not of paramount concern.

But the emissions from the agriculture sector can no longer be ignored, nor can the need for farming practices to adapt to the coming changes.  According to the U.S. EPA, the United States’ agricultural sector contributes 9 percent to its total GHG emissions. Globally, emissions from agriculture comprise upwards of 13 percent of total emissions.  And if an increase in industrial food production is necessary because of population growth and decreased food security, these emission figures can be expected to rise.  Additionally, food systems will need to adapt to extreme weather events, desertification, decreased precipitation, and an increasing influx of parasites and disease.  Is there a way for our food systems to mitigate and adapt to climate change simultaneously thereby enhancing global food security?

Yes!

By localizing food production, food sovereignty is effectively placed in the hands of indigenous cultures and small farmers who naturally farm in ways that produce less emissions.  For example, indigenous practices do not include the use of industrial fertilizers that continuously contribute to nitrous oxide emissions- a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent that carbon dioxide.  Small scale farming practices also negate the need for large land-use changes like  deforestation and forest degradation which remove vital carbon sinks and greatly contribute to carbon emissions.

Keeping food systems local also allows farmers to adapt to our changing climate in a localized manner.   There is no person who knows better the changes required for a particular location than the farmer who has seen the climate and precipitation patterns change.  Unfortunately, national policies to adapt to climate change often disregard indigenous knowledge because of the firm belief that science is the best solution.  As such, industrial agriculture greatly focuses on genetic modification, increasing soil fertility via chemical fertilizers, and managing pest and disease infestation through the use of pesticides.  Yet, indigenous systems have proven to be resilient due to growing a diversity of food crops, incorporating biological pest management, crop rotation and selective weed management practices.  The nuances of these practices will surely need to change with the climate.  But the point is that they can and they will- without the need for increased emissions.  What better way is there to both mitigate and adapt to climate change while keeping people fed?


Fake it ‘til you make it: faux meat and climate change

no-meat-pictureIf it tastes like a burger, and bleeds like a burger, it must be . . . plant-based protein?

At least that’s the outcome fake-meat innovators like Impossible Burger are striving for: a meatless burger that captures the textures and flavors of meat to whet the appetite of even the staunchest carnivores.

In fact, the fake meat industry’s approach might be working. Whether for health, environmental, or ethical reasons, more people are tossing veggie burgers on the grill. Food giants like Tyson are taking notice: last year, Tyson bought a 5% stake in Beyond Meat. Google’s Eric Schmidt even identified plant-based proteins as the number one “game-changing” trend of the future.

The growth of the fake meat industry is good news for climate change. After all, the world’s appetite for meat drives 14.5% of total greenhouse gas emissions. According to a U.N. report, factory-farmed animals contribute more to climate change than all the world’s cars, trucks, trains, planes, and ships combined. Having each American replace chicken with plant-based foods at just one meal per week is equivalent to taking more than half a million cars off U.S. roads.

Further, feeding huge numbers of confined animals uses more food than it produces. And while some cultures may be willing to eat insects to cut the impact of livestock on our planet, this option does not seem compatible with–or palatable to–the tastes of Western nations.

The incredible impact of factory farming adds up when you take a hard look at demand. For example, Americans eat three times the recommended level of meat. Given meat’s impact on climate, eating “like an American” is beyond sustainable. “Even in doing everything we can to reduce the emissions associated with meat production, rising demand means livestock emissions would take us beyond the global objective of 2ºC,” said Rob Bailey, a research director at the think tank Chatham House. “Therefore, dietary change is a precondition for avoiding catastrophic climate change.”

Even the UN Climate Change Conferences recognize the importance of dietary change. In addition to focusing on low-carbon and free range food, COP 23 plans to serve a higher share of vegetarian and vegan food than at past sessions.

In changing people’s diets, using “nanny statism“ to tax dairy and meat products–while theoretically effective–may rub Western nations the wrong way. Given the personal choice and cultural intricacies involved in making dinner, “it is not the place of governments or civil society to intrude into people’s lives and tell them what to eat.”

But the fake meat industry might just bring home the bacon. With more and more palatable options, and the withering taboo of veggie burgers for “radical vegetarians,” free market innovation is helping carnivore nations put more plant-based foods on the table. If the fake meat industry puts out a good spread, it could spark a marked drop in greenhouse gas emissions and help feed the world along the way.