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Consultations on engagement in climate change and agriculture

Discussions on agriculture, food security and livelihood in the context of climate change are expected to remain a hot topic in the coming years

For the past four years CTA, Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), FANRPAN and others have been collaborating in organising special learning and information events during UNFCCC meetings (COP). The aim is to influence negotiators and parties for climate change policies that are favourable to agriculture. Several other actors such as COMESA, farmers organisations, SACAU and Farming First have been very active in following the climate change negotiations and keen to ensure that agriculture features prominently in the negotiations. Some successes have been recorded from these events. Despite this, agriculture is still highly under-represented in UNFCCC.

On 20 February 2013, CTA organised a one-day consultation meeting with key partners from the climate change consortium group on the topic of climate change and agriculture. Fifteen experts and climate change negotiators from CTA, CCAFS, World Farmers Organisation, Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU) and African CoP negotiation delegate to the UNFCCC participated in the consultation in Wageningen.

The objective of the meeting was to assess the progress made by previous activities of the partners to promote the inclusion of agriculture in UNFCCC climate change policy processes. Delegates also identified new strategies for future engagement and planned specific joint activities to advance agriculture in climate change processes in 2013 and 2014.

A review of previous activities revealed that some progress had been achieved by the partnership formed by CTA, CCAFS, SACAU, FANRPAN and others.

  • Five editions of special events termed Agriculture, Livelihood and Landscape (ALL) Days were organised during annual meetings of UNFCCC to exchange information on agriculture and climate change. Until the ALL Day of December 2011, agriculture had never been on the global climate change negotiations agenda. At the last annual event in Doha in December 2012, 400 delegates participated in person and about 700 online. Media coverage was extensive. Fifty media stories were circulated, including live reports on Al Jazeera and articles in the Guardian; 5000 Facebook connections were made, 600,000 people were reached via twitter, and there were 500 views of the various online video interviews.
  • In addition to UNFCCC, new opportunities for agriculture and climate change at other multilateral processes has increased. Notable among these are UN Committee on World Food Security, Climate Change and Agriculture Alliance, and Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance. The ALL partnership community played an important role in securing this recognition.
  • An initiative by the consortium group led by CCAFS, saw the launch of a new pre-meeting forum in February 2013 to bridge the information gap for African negotiators. Climate change scientists present information in a jargon-free format allowing negotiators to quickly access relevant technical information on agricultural climate change. The negotiators have found the forums very helpful and have even been able to highlight other information gaps to the scientists.
  • Improvements have also been recorded on the level of submissions made by the African negotiator group to the Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA). For the first time ever, African countries contributed twice the total number of formal submissions to the recent SBSTA session than they had in each of the previous sessions.

However, challenges remain. There is a lack of agreement between the different negotiating blocks on the adaptation and mitigation roles of agriculture in climate change negotiation texts. Inadequate robust evidence for positive linkage between adaptation and mitigation approaches continues to be a problem. There are regional disparities in the availability of and access to technical information on climate change by African negotiators, with those in Eastern and Southern Africa having a much greater access to information than their counterparts in Western and Central Africa. The pre- and post briefing forums mentioned above should go some way to overcoming this hurdle.

Follow up
During the consultation, the partners reached a consensus that the new strategy should focus on supporting initiatives that ensure agriculture is integrated in future climate change agreements. It should also allow for the building of alliances with wider stakeholders to ensure a positive decision on agriculture at the UNFCCC and, support initiatives outside of the UNFCCC process that bring together agriculture and climate change.

Several joint activities to promote agriculture in climate change policies in 2013 and 2014 were identified and agreed upon by the partners. These have been grouped under four broad categories: (i) documenting the impact of climate change on agriculture and vice versa, (ii) identifying best practices and case studies of promising agriculture-climate change options, (iii) working with ACP climate change negotiators and policy champions, (iv) empowering civil society for effective advocacy of agriculture-climate change. Examples of just some of the projects planned include the development of a case study bank booklet as well as a database of sources of finance for climate change in ACP countries. A dialogue between negotiators and policy champions has been organised for SBSTA in Bonn in June this year. The group will also ensure that farmers, youth, media and civil society are well represented at the Bonn meeting as well as at CoP19.

Details of these activities, deliverables, timelines and responsibilities were assigned among and agreed by the core partners. The agreement provides a framework for activities that the core partner organisations will engage in to promote agriculture and climate change during SBSTA in Bonn, in June 2013 and the CoP19 in Poland in late 2013.

For more information on these activities contact Dr. Olu Ajayi, Senior Programme Coordinator for Agricultural and Rural Development Policy (Ajayi@cta.int).