Science helps push agriculture up the international climate agenda

Despite slow progress on an overall agreement, this year’s SBSTA showed steady advances on agriculture. Photo: V. Meadu (CCAFS)
(view original)
Jun 19, 2015

by

Vanessa Meadu (CCAFS)

Strong science reveals climate change impacts on agriculture. Are policy makers paying attention?

In a recent article published on Huffington Post, Bruce Campbell, Director of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), points out that climate policies must pay attention to agriculture and food security. He also describes how agricultural science has recently made its way into scientific literature on climate change and in official climate change negotiations.

In recent years, CGIAR scientists have published large quantities of scientific evidence to raise awareness of the effect of climate change on agriculture, and possible adaptation approaches. But is anyone paying attention? 

Campbell mentions a citation analysis which found that last year’s Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change “revealed a notable jump in the absolute number and relative share of total citations from CGIAR researchers” compared to the 2001 and 2007 reports. The 2014 report includes a chapter on Food Security and Food Production Systems which includes evidence about smallholder farming. According to Campbell:

Getting more evidence about impacts and options for smallholder farmers is crucial as the literature is dominated by work in developed countries. We hope that the scientific contributions will aid decision makers worldwide to effectively and fairly integrate the interests of smallholder farmers into a global climate agreement.

Agriculture in the UNFCCC process

Agriculture was on the agenda at the June 2015 UN climate talks in Bonn (SBSTA), and many countries and organisations, including CGIAR centers, prepared background studies and briefing materials to inform discussions on critical issues related to agriculture and food security. Campbell notes that this is “welcome progress” for “a critical sector [that has] not been more upfront in deliberations over a global climate agreement."

Campbell notes:

Agriculture groups hope that formal consideration of these issues by the SBSTA will raise the profile of agriculture more generally in the formal process at climate change negotiations and improve the state of, and access to, scientific understanding amongst parties.

Read Bruce Campbell's original article on the Huffington Post: Backed by solid science, agriculture climbs the international climate change agenda