Guest blog by Lini Wollenberg, Theme Leader for theme 'Pro-poor Climate Change Mitigation' and Chase Sova, visiting researcher on 'Adaptive Capacity under Progressive Climate Change', CCAFS.
Representatives from government agencies, research institutes, development organizations and civil society came together in June and July to discuss the current status of climate change policy in agriculture and identify research priorities in each of four countries: Ghana, Mali, Kenya and Ethiopia. CCAFS organized the national workshops respectively with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Ghana, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Mali, the Tegemeo Institute in Kenya and the Climate Change Forum in Ethiopia. Read more »
In this newly released video interview, made by Francesco Fiondella at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), CCAFS theme leader James Hansen discusses the causes of the current drought plaguing the Horn of Africa. He points out that even if the lack of rain is a root cause of the crisis, it is still only one of many factors that has lead to the ongoing drought. Other factors are on a more long term basis, such as poverty, which leads to vulnerability to climatic shocks and population growth, where many depend on rainfed agriculture for their livelihoods. The environmental issues plaguing the area namely water and soil degradation also exacerbate the situation further. Read more »
The build up to the Bhutan Climate Summit for a Living Himalayas received unprecedented response last week with the completion of expert group meetings on the key themes of water, biodiversity, food security and energy.
The Bhutan Climate Summit is an initiative of the Royal Government of Bhutan, and will bring together leaders, decision makers and technical experts from Government agencies as well as research and development organizations to identify key issues and priorities for climate change adaptation in the eastern Himalayas, and foster partnerships and networking to facilitate sharing of information and experiences. Read more »
At the recent FAO meeting of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA), CGIAR Climate researcher Andy Jarvis stressed that exchange of genetic resources (one of the CGRFA's key concerns) will be an essential aspect of the adaptation of agriculture to climate change.
Jarvis, based at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), was speaking at a special information seminar on climate change and genetic resources for food and agriculture. Read our summary of the session, including a video interview with Dr. Jarvis. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin has also produced a detailed summary.
The event was successful not only in raising participants' awareness of the important links between genetic resources, food security and climate change adaptation, but also in pushing the Commission to move ahead with a roadmap on climate change and genetic resources for food and agriculture that will guide its future work in the area. Read more »
If poor farmers are to contribute to climate change mitigation, mitigation options need to have a positive impact on livelihoods. In fact, what may be needed are livelihood options that produce mitigation co-benefits, as well as and carbon finance schemes that provide additional incentives to help farmers to meet both livelihood and environmental objectives.
To better understand the current state of climate change mitigation and adaptation projects and policies in our focal regions, the CGIAR Climate program is collaborating with students from Harvard University's Kennedy School who have are spending their summers in West Africa and South Asia to talk to policy makers, development organizations and farmers about mitigation and adaptation activities. Read more »
It is apparent that given the vastly different positions on climate change mitigation, progress towards a global climate agreement is going to be incredibly slow.
Negotiations around agriculture also have some sticking points, notably related to "trade", "open economic systems" etc. This year,
the negotiations have been painfully slow, in Bangkok and then in Bonn, with much time spent discussing the agenda. In Cancun, the agricultural negotiating text, calling for a SBSTA work program on agriculture, was removed from what became the Cancun Agreement. And so what remained was largely agriculture as a driver of deforestation. Given agriculture's crucial role in food security, and the extremely negative impacts of climate change on agriculture, this situation is not positive. Read more »
by Charlotte Lau
India is one of the great food security puzzles of our age. By all accounts, the country’s economy is growing rapidly, incomes are reaching historical highs, and between the 1980s and 2005 food prices declined relative to the prices of other goods—yet people are eating less.
Per capita calorie consumption and nutrient consumption in India have declined over the last couple decades, a pattern that began precisely when relative food prices were falling. Indeed, people spend less on food today than they did thirty years ago, but not because they're eating enough. Child nourishment is poor, anemia is rampant, and body-mass indices are among the lowest in the world, leading 20% of children to be so skinny they would be classified by the WHO as “wasting.”
What is going on? Read more »
This year, forests remain on the climate change agenda, building on several years of policy progress for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) as well as the current International Year of Forests. Attention is also growing on how agriculture can reduce emissions, as well as its fundamental role in ensuring climate adaptation in most of the world. With these developments, it is easy to overlook the ‘in-between’ issues of trees in agricultural landscapes. Agroforestry and the deliberate use of trees was framed over 30 years ago as an alternative to ‘open field’ agriculture as the major pathway for intensification, as well as recognizing the roles farmers play in domesticating forests. Read more »
Although scientists have come a long way in identifying the best practises for adapting agriculture to climate change, a significant gap remains for translating this into policy change.
CCAFS director Bruce Campbell pitches in with a guest article at IISD's Climate Change Policy and Practice website:
"The sheer variety of perspectives on the best ways to adapt agriculture to climate change and reduce emissions while boosting carbon storage in the soil has resulted in a confusing mix of messages, which are leading to inaction or, worse still, the wrong actions.
We need new approaches for sharing knowledge and tools between scientists and decision makers at all levels, including farmers and the organizations that represent them. The idea is to make science more comprehensible and to involve all key actors in decisions about how its results are interpreted and used."
Bruce points to the new international Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change that CCAFS is setting up this year, which plans to pull together concrete policy recommendations from the myriad of reports and research that already exists.
The new CGIAR research program - Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security launched on 4 December amid a flurry of activities related to agriculture at the Cancun climate conference. The keystone event, Agriculture and Rural Development Day 2010, was jointly organised by a wide range of CCAFS partners and allies (see the full list at the bottom of the event's page), demonstrating that partnerships are crucial for overcoming the challenges that climate change poses to agriculture and food security.
The day-long event, which drew hundreds of participants including policy makers, farmers, scientists and journalists, aimed to put agriculture on this year's climate change agenda. The ARDD website has extensive related resources including session summaries, photos, videos and press materials. The event's organisers produced A Call for Action on Agriculture and Climate Change, summarising the day's key messages, and emphasising the mutual dependence of climate security and food security. This statement was shared along with key messages for forestry and climate change, at a joint Agriculture Day and Forest Day side event on 6 December. The unified message was clear: land use matters for climate change, rural development and food security. Read more about this event at the CGIAR in Action blog.
As COP16 ended, the collective push for including agriculture in a climate change deal has achieved small but important successes.
Agriculture and food security are recognised as areas deserving priority consideration in projects and programmes for enhancing action on adaptation, in a footnote to the Outcome of the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (PDF). Unfortunately there was no decision on a work programme on agriculture on the Subsidiary Body for Technological Advice (SBSTA), proving correct fears that it would be held hostage by the uncertain state of broader negotiations and by a number of small technicalities at the 11th hour.
The Cancun Agreements did, however, call for a SBSTA work programme on REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) that addresses drivers and methodologies, as well as exploration of REDD+ financing options under the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action. As agriculture expansion is a key driver of deforestation in developing countries, this decision ensures some support for continued work on agriculture in the climate change context.
The Cancun climate talks may have ended but the work has just begun. From January 2011, CCAFS embarks on a 10-year work program hosted by the CIAT - the International Center for Tropical Agriculture. Please watch this blog and follow us on twitter (@cgiarclimate) for updates as they unfold, stories from ongoing research, and farm-level perspectives.
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)