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First Report from Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture

Lindiwe Sibanda, CEO of FANRPAN attended the Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture in Wageningen 24-26 October. Photo: C. Schubert (CCAFS)
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Keynote speakers at the opening of the Global Conference on Climate Smart Agriculture share their common vision

“Scientists and technology have a critical role to play if we are to achieve food security in the context of climate change,” said Sir John Beddington, Chair of the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change at the opening of the Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture in Ede, The Netherlands. He urged the participating agricultural experts from governments, international agencies, and universities to think about smart ways for farmers to produce enough food while managing and adapting to climate change.

The talk included a foretaste of the soon to be launched recommendations from the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change. The Commission, made up of thirteen experts from around the world, has been collecting evidence to synthesizing the evidence to develop practical actions to support sustainable agriculture in the context of climate change. The summary will be aimed for policy makers and launched in time to be fed into the discussions in Durban.

COP 17 - a unique opportunity to put agriculture on the climate change agenda

Sir John urged scientists to contribute to the global challenge of moving the world into a ‘safe operating space’ in which agriculture can meet global food needs while reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. He highlighted how the scientific evidence base can contribute to policy action. Beddington also proclaimed COP17 in Durban in December as a unique opportunity to put agriculture on the climate change agenda.   

Sir John said that the agricultural potential in Africa is substantial and existing technologies can be used to create the necessary transformations. Farmers need to produce more food without further encroaching on sensitive ecosystems in order to contribute to a food system that is sustainable and climate safe. Climate-smart agriculture, he said, has to both appeal to and benefit the rural farmer while not undermining livelihoods. Sir John will deliver the Commission's full recommendations at Agriculture and Rural Development Day on 3 December, in Durban.

Climate-smart agriculture puts people first

Lindiwe Sibanda, CEO of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), and member of the International Science Panel of the CGIAR climate program (CCAFS), said that Africa, a vulnerable continent to climate change, needs to improve its productivity in a climate smart manner. And this is where climate-smart agriculture becomes imperative, since CSA puts people and food first. Sibanda underlined that women are driving agriculture in Africa, which is why “we need to follow women – in everything”.

The Director General at the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation Dr. Hans Hoogeveen also underlined the importance of a gender approach when adapting to and mitigating climate change. He said that there is a need to invest in farmers, giving them knowledge, including them in extension services, offering tools such as storage and seeds, access to land and giving them access to markets. He also emphasized the need for bringing practical science to farmers, backed with financial support.

Martin Kropff, Rector Magnificus at Wageningen University confirmed that the view of agriculture as part of the climate problem has shifted and been widely accepted as part of the climate solution. He also stressed the need for scientists and policy makers to begin solving the problems, rather than keep indicating them, something the Global Science Conference in Wageningen aims to do in the upcoming days by launching an official statement on the way forward for climate-smart agriculture.

The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) is at the GSCSA in Wageningen this week – stay tuned for more updates and the conference declaration or follow us on twitter @cgiarclimate.