COP 27 will provide agriculture in the Americas with an opportunity to showcase its sustainability and demand funding for climate change adaptation, say ministers of Agriculture in Costa Rica
San Jose, 23 September 2022 (IICA) – The upcoming UN Climate Change Conference (COP 27), to be held in November in Egypt, will provide agriculture in the Americas with an opportunity to showcase the progress it has achieved in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to call upon developed countries to meet their commitment to fund climate action in developing countries.
This was one of the conclusions of the panel discussion “Agriculture in climate scenarios”, which took place during the meeting of ministers, secretaries and senior officials of the ministries of Agriculture of 32 countries of the Americas, whose purpose is to discuss the strategic role of the region’s agriculture sector in addressing climate change, in the lead-up to COP 27.
Representatives of multilateral credit agencies and global funds are also in attendance at the meeting organized by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) at its headquarters in San Jose, Costa Rica.
“Given the importance of agriculture in the international arena, COP 27 will provide us with a great deal of visibility. We must try to reverse certain concepts that have become ingrained in the public mind at the international level, such as holding agricultural production processes accountable for climate change. As was rightly stated, our sector is the one that is most vulnerable to and most affected by climate change, and the one that is most interested in contributing to mitigating its effects”, remarked Fernando Mattos, Minister of Livestock and Agriculture of Uruguay.
Mattos questioned the expression “decarbonizing agriculture”, which is used in various international forums. “Who is responsible for decarbonizing? We must assume the commitment to reduce emissions, but it is the fossil fuel industry in high-income countries that must be decarbonized, given that it sustains the development model that has generated and continues to generate climate change”, stated Mattos.
The Uruguayan minister underscored the need to request that developed countries fulfill their commitment to provide developing countries with aid, which they have repeatedly put off. “The international context will surely provide an excuse to continue postponing the provision of these funds in the future”, he regretted.
Professor Rattan Lal, the world’s leading authority on soil science and IICA’s Goodwill Ambassador and Special Envoy to COP 27, explained that good agricultural practices contribute to preserving natural resources, managing nutrients and mitigating climate change through carbon sequestration.
“Small-scale farmers play a key role in addressing climate change. We cannot underestimate their importance for mitigation and adaptation; the COP must emphasize this”, added Lal.
The scientist, who has been collaborating with IICA on the Living Soils of the Americas program since 2020, highlighted the contribution of science and technology to increasing agricultural sustainability. He also pointed out that there are low-cost tools, similar to a cell phone, which enable small-scale farmers to measure carbon levels in soil and can help to give greater visibility to the sector’s contributions to climate change mitigation.
Ayman Amin, Minister Plenipotentiary and Deputy Director of the Department of Environment and Sustainable Development of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Egypt, the host country of COP 27, and Carlos Ruiz Garvia, Project Manager of the Global Innovation Hub of the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, also participated in the panel discussion.
Amin shared details of the upcoming conference in the city of Sharm-El-Sheikh, which will be attended by 22,000 negotiators from 197 countries. He also underscored the importance of the Koronivia Joint Work, which focuses on the role of agriculture within the framework of climate change negotiations.
In turn, Ruiz Garvia noted that there is a clear urgency to accelerate climate action at the global level, but also to provide a response in terms of policies and from society as a whole, which will be facilitated by the decisions reached in these negotiation processes.
Representatives from various Latin American countries referred to the importance of considering farmers, who are the weakest link in the food production chain and are most vulnerable to climate change.
Luis Alberto Villegas, Deputy Minister of Agricultural Affairs of Colombia, stressed the need for family farming to have a voice in the negotiations, given its importance for food security in Latin American and Caribbean countries.
“Family farmers put food on our tables during the toughest part of the pandemic. When we talk about sustainability, we must consider three aspects: the economic, environmental and social pillars. It is crucial that we address the peasant economy”, he explained.
In the same vein, Eduardo Izaguirre, Deputy Minister of Productive Agricultural Development of Ecuador, stated that family farming plays a fundamental role in providing food, income and employment in rural areas.
Luis Miguel Murillo, of the Ministry of Rural Development and Lands of Bolivia, insisted that agriculture is the sector most heavily impacted by climate change, according to reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
“In rural areas”, said Murillo, “family farmers, small-scale producers, subsistence farmers, rural women and children are the most vulnerable groups. We must defend them”.