Download Now! Actions to Transform Food Systems under Climate Change

Southeast Asian countries join forces to shape UN climate change negotiations on agriculture

Members of the ASEAN joint negotiation group on agriculture. Photo: A. Angraini (GIZ)
Nov 27, 2018


Luja Von Kockritz (CCAFS) and Beau Damen (FAO)

Members of the ASEAN put forward a collective and influential voice for climate action in agriculture.

Southeast Asian countries have formed a joint group of negotiators to influence landmark negotiations on agriculture underway at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). “Agriculture underpins national and regional economic development, livelihoods and food security in Southeast Asia and climate change is a major concern against the backdrop of rising demand for food production in the region, said Dr. Margaret Yoovatana, Senior Policy and Plan Specialist in Thailand’s Department of Agriculture, and Chair of the Association of South East Asian Nations Climate Resilience Network (ASEAN CRN). By 2050, yields of key staple and cash crops such as rain-fed rice, maize and cassava are projected to decline by as much as 17%, 16% and 21% respectively in the absence of adaptation[1]. The outlook for irrigated crops is only slightly better. At the same time, Southeast Asia also accounts for nearly 10% of global agricultural emissions[2].

Although on one hand climate change poses significant risks to agriculture, and on the other hand agriculture is a key source of emissions, it has not played a major role within UNFCCC negotiations to date. However, this situation has been changing. A series of dedicated workshops on agricultural issues under the UNFCCC have paved the way for the “Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture” (KJWA), which was agreed by Parties to the UNFCCC at COP23 in Bonn in 2017, and which provides a platform for driving action.

This December, at COP24 in Katowice, Parties will continue to negotiate on a range of issues of crucial importance to agriculture, including the rule book for implementation of the Paris Agreement and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), as well as the modalities for implementation of the KJWA. Southeast Asian countries have highlighted climate change adaptation and mitigation in agriculture as a top priority for their respective NDCs and support under the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement and the KJWA, with their emphasis on country-driven action, have provided a platform to highlight the technical and financial gaps and needs that are standing in the way of action and ambition to address climate change challenges in agriculture. The countries of Southeast Asia have embraced this opportunity to draw attention to their shared priorities and needs for agriculture and build momentum for the types of climate action that will benefit farmers in the region and globally, said Mr. Beau Damen from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Cooperation is key

Under the banner of the ASEAN, countries in the region have recognized the growing attention to agriculture under the UNFCCC, and the KJWA in particular, as a major opportunity to put forward a collective and influential voice for climate action in this crucial sector. It is with this in mind that ASEAN member states have formally established the ASEAN Negotiators Group on Agriculture (ANGA). The idea to form a joint group of negotiators first arose in the run up to COP22 in Marrakech and was proposed as a way for countries to exchange views, find common ground and connect negotiators with agricultural experts.

The first action of ANGA was to prepare a joint submission on KJWA and, with support from the FAO, the ASEAN CRN and CCAFS, organize a special coordination meeting in Manila. These milestones were the latest in a long running effort to adopt a proactive and coordinated approach in addressing issues of relevance to the agriculture sectors under the UNFCCC.

What are the priorities of Southeast Asia for KJWA?

The ASEAN on KJWA highlights the following priorities:

  1. Scaling up finance to support the implementation.
  2. Improving access to technology.
  3. Enhance capacity for implementation.
  4. Measuring progress in a simple and consistent manner.
  5. Support actions at multiple scales.

Meeting these priorities envision additional action and support on the part of UNFCCC bodies, ASEAN Member States and other partners.

Currently, public climate finance falls short of the monetary support needed. In 2015/16 only USD 7 billion public climate finance supported agricultural projects emissions[3]. ASEAN is encouraging the UNFCCC Standing Committee on Finance to develop new mechanisms to leverage much needed finance for climate action in agriculture.

Improving access to technology and capacity to scale-up action are also key areas that should be prioritized by the KJWA. ASEAN has requested the UNFCCC Technology Mechanism and the Paris Committee on Capacity Building to better prioritize support to agriculture and support from relevant technical agencies.

ASEAN has also highlighted that measuring and monitoring climate action in agriculture presents a significant challenge. Support is required under the KJWA to develop guidance on simplified metrics and systems that can enhance synergies for data collection and reporting for agriculture under the UNFCCC transparency framework.

Finally, ASEAN highlights its ongoing efforts to coordinate at the regional level through mechanisms such as the ASEAN Climate Resilience Network and that coordination amongst key UNFCCC and agriculture sector stakeholders at regional, but also global and national scales will help drive effective implementation of the work under the KJWA.

For more details on these suggestions consult the submission by ASEAN countries on KJWA.

Steps ahead

During the meeting, the countries charted out the next steps to take their unified position to COP24. ANGA is ready to ensure that the unique perspectives of ASEAN member states continue to inform and shape the direction of the negotiations and develop common solutions for common problems.

Find out more on the ASEAN position on agricultural negotiations:

Further reading:

[1] OECD (2017), Building Food Security and Managing Risk in Southeast Asia, OECD Publishing, Paris.

The project is supported by the Association of South East Asian Nations Climate Resilience Network (ASEAN-CRN) with funding from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.