The New York Times has published a piece by Bruce Campbell, on the failure of the UN Climate Talks to properly address issues of agriculture and food security. Bruce, who is director of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) writes:
Another round of international negotiations on climate change wrapped up in Doha, Qatar, last week without a major consensus on emissions. [...] Strikingly, though, there was a lack of consensus on addressing agricultural adaptation. Efforts to implement a formal program that addresses the dire problem of food security ended without agreement and the issue was punted to June for additional discussion.
But outside of diplomatic circles, a different consensus is forming — one that does not rely on negotiations. People are noticing that climate change has already taken hold. [...] Many governments are not waiting for an international consensus before taking action.
Countries are already taking action by implementing large scale initiatives that help farmers in a changing climate. CCAFS presented these solutions in Doha, along with a report detailing each of the case studies.
Read the full story: The Farming Forecast Calls for Change - New York Times, December 12 2012
by Bruce Campbell
Despite many practical innovations, progress on getting agriculture into the official climate change negotiations has been excruciatingly slow, much slower than the urgent need to achieve food security.
The UN Climate talks currently ongoing in Doha raise the question of how to achieve food security in the drylands, where droughts are frequent and environmental and soil degradation is widespread. Farmers in these areas already face enormous challenges. Climate change will only compound these problems, bringing new levels of uncertainty and risk.
If dryland countries are serious about dealing with reducing their vulnerability to climate change, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, then they need to look at how food is grown, distributed and consumed. The good news is many of the solutions for improving agriculture in the dry areas have been tried and tested. What's missing is political will and funding to scale up.
Download the report: Strategies for Combating Climate Change in Drylands Agriculture
Bit by bit, East African smallholder farmers are adapting to climate change, according to a study we recently published in the journal Food Security. The story received significant attention from a number of global and African media outlets, highlighting both the positive aspects (farmers are adapting) and pointing to the ongoing challenges (they are not adapting quickly enough and not using well-tested approaches). Here are some of the highlights.
Reuters said that African farmers must do more to beat climate change, a story that was picked by worldwide media including the Huffington Post, the Jerusalem Post, Reuters AlertNet, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), and Scientific American.
Voice of America wrote how East African Farmers Plant Seeds of Innovation. In an interview, Patti Kristjanson, who led the research, described how East African farmers are aware of the extremes of climate change, but the driving factor behind their innovations is to ensure there’s enough to eat.
The New York Times featured the study in its Dot Earth blog. Andrew Revkin wrote that that the study’s conclusions show “there’s enormous potential to boost human resilience to climate extremes — whether the result of building greenhouse gases or nature’s built-in shocks — in places that are in harm’s way.” Read more »
Southeast Asia is often called the world's 'rice bowl', due to the region's important role in the world rice trade. In fact, agriculture is the backbone of most economies in the region. But rapid climate change, which is likely to intensify droughts and floods, could devastate Southeast Asia’s agriculture, threatening the livelihoods of millions of people across the region, not to mention global food security.
National Geographic has picked up on these messages, which we highlighted at last month's conference on Climate Smart Agriculture in Asia: Research and Development Priorities.
National Geographic published an interview with Bruce Campbell (program director for the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security - CCAFS) and Matthew McCartney (from the International Water Management Institute - IWMI) about the expected impact of climate change on the region, and what adaptation strategies will be needed to ensure future food security: Read more »
As Asian countries move to confront the escalating threat that rapid climate change poses food security, water supplies, flood management and farm yields, leading climate specialists, agricultural scientists, development organizations, governments and global experts representing 14 Asian countries gathered in Bangkok on 11-12 April for the conference Climate Smart Agriculture in Asia: Research and Development Priorities. The objective was to review the most up-to-date research on the impacts of climate change and outline priority actions for enhancing the resilience and lowering the emissions footprint of Asian agriculture.
As a co-organiser of the event, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) helped share research innovations from across the CGIAR for enhancing the climate resilience of Asian agriculture.
At the close of the meeting, participants noted the need for increased multi-discplinary, and multi-sectoral collaboration to ensure the region is able to adapt to climate change, while reducing emissions from the agricultural sector.
Here's a rundown stories we produced, or were written about CGIAR research, at the event. Read more »
In an editorial published on 6 April, the New York Times endorses the recommendations from the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change, noting that the report "illustrates the complexity of the problem and makes clear that action must be taken soon to address it." The editorial highlights some of the complex but urgent challenges for food and farming:
These are complex goals that require a new vision of how we farm and how we eat, a vision of how to take better care of this planet’s biological resources and live equitably within our planetary means.
Read the full story on the NYTimes.com: Sustainably Feeding a Changing World
On 28 March, the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change launched its final recommendations for ensuring food security under a changing climate. The final report was accompanied by the launch of the animation “How to feed the world in 2050: actions in a changing climate” which has received nearly 3000 views online to date.
The launches generated significant media coverage including interviews with many of the Commissioners, in countries such as United Kingdom, Turkey, Pakistan, Australia, U.S.A, Brazil and Spain. The official press release was also posted on the official Rio+20 website. Read more »
Yesterday we highlighted a new analysis that maps out how science can help put agriculture on the climate agenda. The analysis was published in Science and was co-authored by members of the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change. The authors highlight specific actions for the research world including clarifying definitions of climate-smart agriculture, and more knowledge of adaptation strategies that span agriculture and forestry.
Now TIME has picked up these messages, noting that the most important reason to act on climate change is to counter "the impact that climate change might have on the most vital function of any species: feeding itself." Read more »
By Bruce Campbell
A wise man once said, a hungry man is an angry man. The same goes for the farmer who cannot feed herself.
If African countries don’t want to see this proverb become reality, they must honour their commitments to invest more in the future of agriculture - to make farms more productive and sustainable, and protect farmers from the risks of climate change and extreme weather.
Farming is the life blood of more than half a billion people on the African continent, and climate change will have significant impacts on African agriculture. Rising temperatures and an increase in droughts and floods could dramatically alter growing seasons and wreak havoc on harvests.
The rate of crop failure - already one-in-four in much of eastern Africa - will increase in all areas except Central Africa, according to research by the Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research (CGIAR). Because of climate change, rain-fed crops could fail every other year in much of southern Africa.
In the past, African farmers have shown a remarkable capacity to adapt to changes in climate. But the temperature increases of four degrees or more predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) could push millions of farmers beyond their ability to adapt. And it is unlikely that negotiations at the global climate talks opening in Durban on Nov. 28 will produce an agreement to limit global warming to two degrees or lower.
As such, Africans must realise that we cannot expect the world to create a climate solution for us. We must embark on our own path towards climate security. And that starts with ensuring our own food security. Read more »
On 16 November, the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change released its recommendations on transforming the food system in the face of climate change. The story was picked up worldwide, in countries including Brazil, Canada, France, Poland, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Indonesia, USA, and Australia.
In addition, the story generated interesting articles in a number of high profile outlets, including a number of interviews with Commissioners
Guardian Global Development interviewed Sir John Beddington, and noted that Agriculture needs massive investment to avoid hunger, while Nature News highlighted that the upcoming UN Climate Conference in Durban must Clean up farming. NewScientist asked Just how much meat can eco-citizens eat? as climate threats loom, which prompted the International Livestock Research Institute to publish a piece on Credible figures for livestock emissions of greenhouse gases. SciDev.net spoke to Kenyan Commissioner Judi Wakhungu about the 'conflict' in agricultural research between trying to reduce GHG emissions vs. intensifying agriculture. French Commissioner Marion Guillou blogged about the Commission's recommendations and challenged policy makers to take them up (en francais). In Australia The Age spoke to Dr. Megan Clark about putting food security on the menu, and The Earth Times called for policy makers to 'act now'.
Next week, Commission chair Sir John Beddington will share the recommendations with key decision leaders and over 500 participants at Agriculture and Rural Development Day in Durban. If you can't join in person, be sure to follow the Agriculture Day blog, and on Facebook and Twitter.
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)