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Addressing agriculture in the UNFCCC negotiations

25. January 2012

    At the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Durban in December 2011, Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA) members were encouraged by negotiators to submit their recommendations for safeguarding the rights of farmers and the wellbeing of the planet. This call was articulated at the EAA-ACT Alliance side event ‘Can we achieve food security in a world challenged by climate change?’ in comments made by Dr George Wamukoya, Facilitator for the Informal Group on Sectoral Approaches under the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA). The call was confirmed in the final outcome document of the work of the AWG-LCA and the official request for “the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice to consider issues related to agriculture at its thirty-sixth session”.

    The Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) work programme is yet to be established and the language in the LCA outcome document is ambiguous. Thus the upcoming work in this area will be guided by what Parties and accredited observer organisations – that’s us! – want.

    While we did not obtain the desired outcome at COP17 of the establishment of a broad work programme on agriculture under either the COP itself or the AWG-LCA, we did achieve a space in which to input our concerns. This is the first time that the UNFCCC has adopted a decision on agriculture and that this issue is on the official agenda of the SBSTA.

    Any submissions by EAA member organisations to the UNFCCC secretariat will be considered by the SBSTA working group at the intercessional negotiation session in June 2012, in hopes of generating a decision at COP18/MOP8 in Qatar in November/December 2012.

    Climate-friendly agriculture is critical to adaptation, mitigation and food security, particularly in developing countries, and we need to ensure that the rights of the farmer and the biodiversity of the land are protected. Increased investment in agriculture is needed to assist smallholder farmers in adapting to the effects of climate change. Promoting smallholder-based agriculture is an important mitigation measure, and we need to make sure that it obtains the attention that it deserves within the UNFCCC negotiations.

    The time to act is now to help prepare a decision for COP18!:

    EAA will join with other faith-based organizations in making a submission to the UNFCCC secretariat in time for the 5 March 2012 deadline. In developing this submission, we hope to engage experts on climate and agriculture within our networks. Let us know if you are interested in being part of the working group that will be drafting the submission.

    Once the submission is prepared, we will send it out via an Action Alert. We will invite individuals and organizations to then take the detailed contents of the submission to their governments. EAA members and partners will be invited to share their views with government representatives. Members need to call on them to ensure that policies are designed and implemented to reduce emissions from the agricultural sector and to support small-scale food producers and agro-ecological food production with the necessary financial and technological resources.

    Agriculture continues to be addressed in other UNFCCC discussions such as the Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs), the National Adaptation Programmes of Actions (NAPAs) and Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) but needs to be mainstreamed in climate change negotiations. Agriculture is seen by some as merely a context for carbon credits and offsets. However, agriculture is the only sector that encompasses challenges and opportunities in relation to both mitigation and adaptation.

    A background paper on agriculture in the UNFCCC negotiations information is available at www.e-alliance.ch/en/s/food/climate-change-and-the-right-to-food/.

The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance is a broad international network of churches and Christian organizations cooperating in advocacy on food and HIV and AIDS. The Alliance is based in Geneva, Switzerland. For more information, see http://www.e-alliance.ch/

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