Last month’s UN climate conference in Durban achieved only modest progress for food and farming. Now, a group of international agriculture experts say this is is not enough, given the crucial role of agriculture in feeding people and sustaining livelihoods and economies worldwide, not to mention helping millions to adapt to a changing climate.
In an article published last Friday in Science, top agricultural scientists have outlined how the research world can develop the knowledge needed to support inclusion of agriculture and food security in climate change policies, and get agriculture at the top of the climate agenda.
The analysis, What Next for Agriculture After Durban?, was co-authored by a group that includes members of the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change, chaired by Sir John Beddington; many of the recommendations are informed by the Commission’s seven key actions for Achieving Food Security in the Face of Climate Change released in November. The Commission was set up by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS - that's us) to provide concrete policy options for food security in a changing climate.The authors highlight how scientists can build agreement on practical definitions of "climate-smart agriculture" and "sustainable intensification" as well as adaptation and mitigation strategies that span agriculture and forestry. They point to the need for geographically-explicit information systems that enable policy makers to evaluate risks and benefits of a range of policy options as well as more integrated research on what works in different regions, farming systems, and landscapes.
Research program rising to the challenge
Much of the research from the CCAFS program is geared towards resolving some of the issues highlighted in the Science analysis, for example work on climate change emissions and livelihoods at the forest-farm interface and better tools to assess impacts of climate change on different land use systems such as global rangelands. CCAFS is also organizing Agriculture and Rural Development Day this June in Rio de Janeiro; this major event will bring together key players in climate change and and food security to share success stories, best practices and chart the way forward for agriculture in a changing climate.
The Science story was picked up by media outlets worldwide, and many of the co-authors were interviewed:
Other top stories included
J. Beddington et al. 2011. What Next for Agriculture After Durban? Science VOL 335, 20 January 2012. DOI: 10.1126/science.1217941 (subscription required)
CCAFS Coordinating Unit - University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Science, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Rolighedsvej 21, DK-1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark, phone +45 35331046; Email ccafs [at] cgiar [dot] org, EAN 5790000279012
Lead Center - International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)