San Jose, Costa Rica, November 20, 2012 (IICA). The countries need to recognize the important contribution that agriculture makes to food security, poverty reduction, and rural well-being, and then establish concrete commitments for the sector as part of the actions undertaken to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
According to a technical note that the Director General of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Víctor M. Villalobos, sent to the Ministers of Agriculture of the hemisphere recently, those commitments should be assumed at the upcoming Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 18), which begins in Doha, Qatar, this month.
The report is intended to provide input for the IICA member countries involved in the negotiations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Those talks, which are expected to lead to the signing of international agreements, will be taking place at COP 18 from November 26 to December 7, 2012.
The document states that, despite its importance for human development, given the contribution it makes to food production and social well-being, agriculture has been addressed only in a limited way in the global negotiations on climate change. It also highlights the fact that 24 countries (including five from the Americas - Bolivia, Canada, Costa Rica, Uruguay and the USA) have endorsed the incorporation of the agricultural sector into the negotiating process.
The countries submitted their opinions on the subject after it was decided at COP 17, held last year in South Africa, that a special group of the Framework Convention should be set up to study the possibility of establishing a work program on agriculture. It was also agreed that the issue of the sector’s role in future agreements on climate change would be resolved at COP 18.
The working group identified eight key points of convergence that are mentioned in the technical note:
1. The work program should include mitigation and adaptation to climate change, and the synergies between the two processes.
2. The importance of food security should be recognized.
3. International cooperation needs to be improved.
4. Adaptation to climate change must be prioritized.
5. Financial support is a priority for the least developed countries, to enable them to promote adaptation actions.
6. Important links exist between agriculture, poverty reduction, and livelihoods.
7. The importance of small farmers needs to be recognized.
8. Financing is required to mobilize investment in the agricultural sector.
“Most (countries) believe that in agriculture there is an intrinsic relationship between adaptation and mitigation that makes it necessary to advance on both fronts simultaneously,” the IICA report adds.
Opportunities at COP 18
The Institute regards the Doha meeting as a key opportunity to undertake actions for adapting to climate change, as it notes in the report: “The importance of adapting agricultural systems, to guarantee production and, thereby, food security, has already been addressed, but a common position has yet to be developed that would make it possible to reach concrete agreements or put forward proposals for action in the short and medium terms.”
Another avenue that the countries of the Americas will explore is how they could access the REDD+ mechanism, which assigns a financial value to reforestation and GHG reduction actions, particularly in the developing nations.
There are also four work programs on land use and forestry in which IICA’s member countries could get involved.
In the note addressed to the Ministers of Agriculture of the hemisphere, the IICA Director General stresses the importance of attending the sessions of the COP and providing follow-up to the agreements adopted: “The participation of representatives of agriculture and other critical sectors makes it possible to include measures aimed at mitigating GHG emissions in the formulation and implementation of national or regional programs, as well as those designed to facilitate adaptation to climate change.”
For more information, contact:
Technical Note: Agriculture in the climate change negociations