Big Steps for Agriculture in Climate Talks

Twenty-five Agricultural organizations band together to show agriculture’s potential to mitigate climate change effects and promote food security.

Participant organizations in Agriculture and Rural Development Day, 2011, addressed a letter to the climate change negotiators of COP17, calling on them to recognize “the important role of agriculture in addressing climate change.”

Over 20 organizations (including CABI, FAO, IFAD, and IFPRI) endorsed the letter, requesting that negotiators approve a work program for agriculture under the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) so that the sector can take action to meet future challenges.

Independently, 12 priority areas for research to support climate change adaptation and mitigation were identified by leading researchers from the BRICS countries plus Indonesia and the US, based on reports presented at the 2011 International Conference on Climate Change and Food Security in Beijing. They also called for the UNFCCC negotiators to set up a work program for agriculture. In an IFPRI press release Elisio Contini, head of the Brazilian Agriculture Research Corporation’s (EMBRAPA) Office of International Affairs, explains that the SBSTA work program “would catalyze new research” and provide a resource pool for agricultural data on a global scale, helping to “identify the highest-priority research on adaptation and mitigation.”

This strong support from top agriculture research organizations, as well as impassioned pleas from numerous African leaders, made an impact on COP17 negotiators; for the first time in 17 years agriculture has been recognized as an essential topic in climate talks, and is now an official component of the SBSTA agenda.

This step moves the negotiations closer to a formal recognition of the importance of agriculture for climate change adaptation and greenhouse gas mitigation and need to address the challenges with increased urgency.

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About josheard

Josh Heard is an actor in Washington, DC.
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