COP23 Moves the Oceans from the Blue Zone to the Green Zone

Oceans Action Day. The one day in a climate change conference where the oceans become the center of discussion. Considering that 75% of the Earth’s surface is composed of oceans and that oceans absorb 25% of carbon dioxide emissions and 90% of heat associated with climate change, it was a wonder that the UNFCCC’s Conference of the Parties did not put much emphasis on oceans until present. But, now it has and it ended with a bang.

The Original Signatories: Aruba, Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Fiji, France, Guinea, Bissau, Kiribati, Madagascar, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Palau, Peru, Senegal, Seychelles, Spain, Sweden.

The Original Signatories: Aruba, Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Fiji, France, Guinea, Bissau, Kiribati, Madagascar, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Palau, Peru, Senegal, Seychelles, Spain, Sweden.

After a full day of side events on Resilience of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Blue Carbon, and Ecosystem-based Adaptation in Ocean and Coastal Zones, among other things, the Oceans Action Day at COP23 concluded with four more countries signing the Because The Ocean” Declaration. Today, the UK, Finland, Honduras, and Romania signed the declaration, committing themselves to work on three common objectives: A Special Report on the Ocean by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, the U.N.Sustainable Development Goals Conference in Fiji in June 2017, and the elaboration of an ocean action plan under the UNFCCC. These countries, along with 22 others, also commit themselves to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and Sustainably Use the Oceans, Seas and Marine Resources for Sustainable Development. This Declaration stems from all Parties’ obligation under the UNFCCC to “promote sustainable management, and promote and cooperate in the conservation and enhancement, as appropriate.”

Five countries, in the face of increasingly devastating hurricanes, do not seem much in terms of number. However, they demonstrate that Parties under the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement are aware that oceans are an integral part of addressing the effects of global climate change. It would seem that Fiji has delivered, at least through COP 23, on its promise to emphasize the importance of oceans. Hopefully, this new energy will translate into nations moving “further, faster together.”

 


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.