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MITHIKA: Agriculture is a sustainable development issue

Farmers are among the first victims of climate change as they rely on the weather and the environment in its entirety for their production and livelihoods.

But until the last climate meeting in Bonn in November 2017, agriculture had been missing from the decisions of the Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The COP23 decision on agriculture, also known as the Koronivia Decision on Agriculture, which took five years of discussions to reach, is a turning point for small-holder farmers.

It indeed provides hope for farmers and processors in developing economies as it will deliver meaningful action on adaptation to adverse effects of climate change on agriculture.

“Agriculture is now being looked at as a sustainable development issue,” said Mithika Mwenda of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA). “We look at climate change not just as a scientific issue but it is an agricultural issue; it affects livelihoods of the people, it’s a human rights issue”.

Climate vulnerabilities across value-chain commodities affect farmers. The financial and technological needs of farmers to adapt are therefore as critical as the mitigation technics to reduce greenhouse gas emissions of the agricultural sector.

However, Parties and observers to the climate talks now have two years to work on bold actions needed in agriculture before more specific ones are agreed upon in 2020.

African civil society and partners believe it is now time to evaluate how the UNFCCC can provide ways for farmers and agro-processors to adapt to climate change, increase their resilience with technology transfer, information dissemination, leverage finance and capacity building.

At the ongoing Bonn Climate Talks, CUTS International and PACJA jointly convened a group of agriculture and climate experts, working across Africa, to reflect on the challenging road towards advancing decisions on the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture.

During the event, the panelists brought greater focus on integrating African agriculture sector challenges into the joint work. The panel included Mithika, Martial Bernoux of the Food & Agriculture Organization, Catherine Mungai from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security as well as George Wamukoya, Expert & Consultant on Climate Change and Agriculture. 

They explored how developing countries can take the process forward to effectively deal with the impacts of climate change on their agriculture.

Mithika observed the need to inspire a bottom-up approach in the discus to get local communities and farmer groups engaged in the process.

“In the next couple of months, we’ll like to mobilize communities at the local level because we want to make this very practical,” he said.

As an observer, CUTS International has submitted proposals to the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture, which explore the socio-economic and food security dimensions of climate change in developing countries’ agricultural sector.

According to the non-profit NGO, the concerns and needed related to agriculture and food security “must be heeded by all Partners by agreeing to bold actions that support developing countries and LDCs in order to enhance their agriculture resilience in facing climate adverse effects and ensuring an agricultural development that is conscious of not only its environmental, but also social and economic impacts”.

This article was first published on the PAMACC website

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