Agriculture gets a strong presence in Bonn climate talks

Agriculture was once again on the agenda at SBSTA. Photo: UNclimatechange

Even as negotiations on agriculture failed to make headway, the sector was under the spotlight in Bonn

In the lead up to the 23rd Conference of Parties (CoP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the intersessional Bonn climate talks concluded earlier this month.  Topics discussed included implementation of the Paris Agreement and issues related to agriculture. While formal negotiations on agriculture failed to make headway, several events put the spotlight on the sector, and highlighted opportunities for climate action within agriculture.

Negotiations on agriculture fail to make headway

Agriculture has been an agenda item within the UNFCCC’s Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) since 2011. SBSTA organized in-session workshops, meetings, and submissions of views of stakeholders, and the process was set to conclude in Marrakech at COP22, with next steps identified. However, the decision was postponed to the Bonn climate talks.

At Bonn, discussions into the night and over the weekend only resulted in agreement to continue discussions at the next SBSTA meeting in November 2017. However, together with the conclusions, a ‘non-paper’ was produced, which highlights the key issues under consideration. While the non-paper holds several opportunities for taking negotiations forward, to do so, the rift between developed and developing countries will need to be overcome, and countries will need to agree on how mitigation is treated within these negotiations. Unless significant progress is made, agriculture will continue to remain the overlooked step-child of the negotiations.

On the sidelines of the negotiations, stakeholders gathered to discuss their expectations at an event organized by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Germany (BMEL), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the German Development Institute (DIE), “Agriculture & Climate Change – Paris, Marrakech and beyond”, where Dr Bruce Campbell, CCAFS Program Director, shared lessons  and views.

Index-based insurance for scaling up agricultural adaptation

The Paris Agreement recognizes insurance as a key area of action and support. Taking cognizance of this, and to support moving this work forward, CCAFS and partners ACP/EU Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, KfW Development Bank, InsuResilience and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany (BMZ) organized a one-day conference that brought together the climate change, agriculture and insurance communities to highlight the value of index-based insurance, draw lessons and identify key challenges for effective scaling up of index-based insurance as a climate change adaptation action.

Read the report back from the conference: Bonn climate talks: Insurance offers untapped opportunity to make smallholder agriculture climate resilient

Watch the video outlining six priority areas discussed at the conference:


Technical Expert Meeting on Agriculture

The Technical Expert Meetings (TEMs) of the UNFCCC brings together experts from Governments, private sector, international organizations etc. to identify policies, practices and technologies with mitigation potential. The Technical Expert Meeting in Bonn focused on cross-cutting issues in urban environment and land use, with thematic events on topics including agriculture. Dr Campbell, spoke at the TEM on agriculture, highlighting examples from CCAFS on options in agriculture which can deliver, adaptation, food security and mitigation co-benefits.

Drought-tolerant #maize: one of the Teslas of #agriculture, says @bcampbell_CGIAR at #SB46 expert event. Read more:

— CCAFS cgiarclimate (@cgiarclimate) May 10, 2017

Role of innovation in supporting implementation of NDCs and mid-century strategies

The Technology Executive Committee of the UNFCCC held a special event on innovation and climate change, where Dr Campbell shared agricultural innovations such as solar irrigation, alternate wetting and drying, and index insurance, that he considers the “Teslas of the agricultural world.”

Can #climatetech #innovation help us to address #climatechange? Today's key note speakers know how! Check #SB46

— UN Climate Action (@UNFCCC) May 12, 2017

NAPs and NDCs - making them a win-win for farmers facing climate change

As countries begin the implementation of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), their National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) can become valuable instruments to support implementation. In this context, this side event organized by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) focused on achieving alignment between the NAPs and NDCs processes, together with upscaling climate finance and achieving transformation in the context of the changing geopolitical climate. Dr Campbell spoke about the role of the agriculture sector, and innovation to support the transition.

There's no #climate change action without #agriculture #SB46 @FAOclimate @BMZ_Bund @WFP @GCF_News @theGEF @IFADnews

— Bruce Campbell (@bcampbell_CGIAR) May 12, 2017

What next for agriculture in the UNFCCC?

The formal negotiations on agriculture, under SBSTA has moved forward very little since Marrakech, and negotiators are facing a deadlock on addressing mitigation, trade and differentiated responsibilities of countries. If countries are unable to overcome the deadlock, the agenda item will keep getting deferred and lose relevance over time. Alternatively, countries will overcome this deadlock and agree on conclusions and next steps at COP23 in Bonn.

Considering the overwhelming priority accorded to agriculture in the NDCs, national level actions in the sector will lead the way, both in adaptation and mitigation. CCAFS researchers estimate that in order to reach the 2o C target of the Paris Agreement, emissions from the agricultural sector will need to be reduced by 1 gigatonne carbon dioxide equivalent per year by 2030; current interventions can only achieve 21-40% of this goal. Therefore, transformative changes are needed in the sector. CCAFS will continue to support countries in making such changes, supporting the implementation of agriculture actions in their NDCs and NAPs, and helping countries access financial resources, and fostering South-South cooperation.

Anette Friis is the Head of Partnerships & Outreach at CCAFS. Dhanush Dinesh is the Global Policy Engagement Manager at CCAFS.