An information event on agriculture and climate change held during the June Momentum on Climate Change saw countries share their experiences on how to maintain momentum to implement more resilient, sustainable and low-emissions agriculture.
The focus at the virtual event was the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture, adopted at COP23 in 2017 in Bonn. This includes technical exchanges on specific agricultural topics - such as healthy soils or nutrient management - in dedicated workshops, which engage a broad range of stakeholders, including scientists, farmer groups, environmental NGOs, indigenous peoples, youth and women's groups.
Ms. Clare Cvitanovich, a delegate from the United States, gave an example of what had been discussed: Advances in nutrition and breeding, through which US dairy farmers have decreased enteric methane emissions per litre of milk by 55% since the 1920s while dramatically increasing production and decreasing land and water use. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas. She emphasized:
"There are multiple pathways within agriculture to increase productivity, food security and carbon sequestration while reducing poverty and emissions, but in order to achieve these outcomes agricultural innovation must be tailored to fit environmental specifics and the needs of farmers and society."
Participants agreed that the knowledge-sharing that takes place in such workshops provides an important opportunity to learn from different experiences across the world. They also underlined the importance of cooperation across national, regional and institutional borders, as the challenge in dealing with agriculture and climate change is too great for individual countries, especially small countries. Chilean delegate Mr. Julio Cordano said:
"The complexities of maintaining food production under the strains of climate change largely exceed the capacity of many developing countries, highlighting the importance of cooperation for food security."
International organizations play an important role in such cooperation. The Green Climate Fund (GCF) provides funding which can be tailored to each of the topics of the Koronivia road map, - including livestock management and sustainable land and water management - based on country priorities. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN provides technical support to countries on issues relating to agriculture and climate change, including preparing knowledge products to help digest the huge amount of information on the topic. The urgent need for such support was underlined by Mr. Ayman Amin, a delegate from Egypt:
"Options for implementation should be based on the fundamental priorities of safeguarding food security and on the vulnerabilities and diversity of agricultural systems. That requires sustainable and predictable access to adequate means of implementation, including finance, technology transfer and capacity-building, to developing country Parties, taking into consideration that smallholder farmers depend on agriculture for securing their livelihoods," he said.
Several participants emphasized that a good outcome at the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow at the end of next year can be achieved, and Ms. Maggie Charnley, speaking on behalf of the United Kingdom, explained the vision for such an outcome:
"We would like to build a broad coalition for action - action on policy, action on research, and action on investment. We also want to showcase what is already being done in agriculture. We all have a role to play - governments, farmers, researchers, NGOs. By working together, we can ensure that agriculture works for people, tackles greenhouse gas emissions and creates resilient farming systems, a key element of the global recovery from the Coronavirus crisis."
Such results at COP26 can provide the political signals that are urgently required to enhance current efforts to reduce emissions from the agriculture sector and can help organizations to build actual programmes around supporting countries in addressing agriculture and climate change issues.