Developing the African narrative for the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture: setting the stage for climate-resilient agriculture in Africa

The workshop identified priority areas for consideration, for example, to understand and identify approaches for assessing adaptation, adaptation co-benefits and resilience. Photo: O. Girard (CIFOR)

Country negotiators and agriculture experts from across Africa crafted a joint submission to the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice.

It is not hard to imagine the enthusiasm and expectations around the momentous decision on agriculture at COP23—the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture—from Africa. Still, you might think it would be impossible for more than 40 people from 17 different countries to all work together to write a joint document on agriculture in less than forty-eight hours. But for the African Group of Negotiators (AGN), it’s all in two days’ work.

Since 2009, the AGN has led and supported efforts to include agriculture in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations. In 2011, at the Seventeenth Conference of the Parties (COP 17) held in Durban, South Africa, the COP requested the Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) to consider issues related to agriculture.

While this was a great step forward, the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture adopted at COP23 marks an even bigger milestone for negotiations in agriculture. The decision calls on SBSTA and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) to jointly address issues related to agriculture, through workshops, expert meetings, and working with constituted bodies under the Convention, thus linking science and implementation. Parties and observers have been invited to submit their views on elements to be included in the Joint Work on Agriculture.

On 5 and 6 April 2018 the African Group of Negotiators (AGN) convened a working session with over 40 agriculture negotiators, agriculture experts and key stakeholders with representation from 17 countries from all five sub-regions of Africa. The session aimed to deepen understanding of the implications of the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture and prepare the AGN submission to SBSTA.

The negotiators and agriculture experts worked together to develop a joint African narrative on agriculture that can lay the foundation for mobilizing and building the finance, technology, knowledge, and capacity needed for innovation to improve food production, enhance food and nutrition security and livelihoods, and promote resilient agricultural transformation under climate change.

Group discussion at the meeting. See more photos on Flickr.

The two-day meeting was supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), African Group of Negotiators Expert Support (AGNES), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS).

Key areas identified for consideration by the AGN

Based on the outcomes of the five in-session workshops related to agriculture, the AGN identified four priority action areas in which more discussion and negotiation is needed between SBSTA and SBI:

  1. Early warning systems, contingency plans and safety nets in the agriculture sector;
  2. Vulnerability assessment and risk management including agricultural insurance;
  3. International cooperation in technology development and transfer in the agriculture sector; and
  4. Engagement of non-state actors, especially the private sector in the agriculture sector.

The AGN proposed in-session meetings between SBSTA/SBI and the constituted bodies under the Convention to discuss modalities for supporting the implementation of the key action areas above as well as other topics resulting from the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture. Specific areas for consideration include:

  • Methods, approaches and metrics for assessing adaptation, adaptation co-benefits and resilience: Understanding and identifying approaches for assessing adaptation, adaptation co-benefits and resilience, including measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) frameworks;
  • Improved soil carbon, soil health and soil fertility, including water management: Integrated landscape management and approaches, soil mapping (soil fertility and carbon) and integrated soil fertility management;
  • Improved nutrient use and manure management: Optimization and rational use of inorganic fertilizers in agricultural systems and approaches for optimizing use and management of manure;
  • Improved livestock management systems: Sustainable and efficient livestock management systems and value chains (including agro-pastoral systems), risk management of livestock production systems; and
  • Socioeconomic and food security dimensions of climate change in agriculture: Residual impacts of climate change on agriculture (smallholder livelihoods, migration, conflicts, security, the nutritional value of food), the efficiency of agriculture value chains and food systems, and gender and youth in agriculture.

Additional topics identified included current and projected (potential) risks and vulnerabilities of agriculture value chains, agriculture data infrastructure and innovative digital solutions, and innovative financing for investment in agriculture.

Reflections on knowledge gaps and priority areas for African agriculture

While discussing the submission, participants also highlighted key issues for Africa in terms of moving forward to implementation. These include: i) changing the current low-investment and low-technology environment for the continent's agriculture sector, ii) increasing focus on mechanisms to finance climate actions in agriculture to include models of blended and private finance, and iii) the need for dedicated financial resources to be set aside by national and international financial mechanisms under the convention, in particular the Green Climate Fund (GCF), in order to address vulnerabilities of agriculture to climate change and to ensure food security.

Effective engagement of the private sector is equally crucial. CCAFS will continue to work with partners to support the AGN to unpack the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture and make a case for implementation of climate-smart agriculture at national and local levels including creating an enabling environment to attract financial support.

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Maren Radeny is the Science Officer at CCAFS East Africa. Catherine Mungai is the Partnerships and Policy Specialist at CCAFS East Africa. Laura Cramer is the Science Officer at CCAFS Priorities and Policies for Climate-Smart Agriculture. Dawit Solomon is the Regional Program Leader at CCAFS East Africa.