'Climate-warrior' urges collective action for farmers now

Farmers' prospects and opportunities in a warming world, without urgent action, are very slim. Time for action was yesterday, and question is: how much more time do we have? Photo: A. G. Farran UNAMID
Rachel Kyte from the World Bank took the stage at the Global Landscapes Forum opening plenary with one important message: that agriculture and forestry can work together for sustainable and resilient development. We think everyone should hear her speech - so we brought it to you.

After being introduced as the ‘number one climate-warrior’, Rachel Kyte, leader of the World Bank Sustainable Development team, stepped on to the stage at Global Landscapes Forum with a lot to live up to.

Rachel had just returned from a trip to Kenya visiting a climate-smart village project led by CCAFS East Africa team and partners, and it was clear that she had come to Poland with an important message.

With conviction, she explained to the participants gathered in the Auditorium Maximus on this grey November morning that not only are there tried and tested climate-smart solutions, but the solutions for agriculture and forestry are not always in opposition to each other, in many cases they can actually complement each other. Implemented under a landscape-umbrella, these solutions could be the way forward to support forest protection and agricultural intensification at the same time, while supporting the livelihood of billions of people.

Rachel Kyte at Global Landscapes Forum letting people know it is up to them to push negotiators to seal a fair deal for farmers - now.

Photo: N. Palmer

Given the early hour, it was hard to tell if people were ready for her message, but Rachel made it clear that it's our collective duty to bring this information to negotiators at the ongoing Climate talks in Poland: there are solutions with win-win outcomes for all and that they are ready to be implemented.

What climate-smart solutions? Read about Rachel's trip to Kenya in her own words on our blog.

Getting the farm and forestry communities together under the same roof for the first time in the midst of the climate negotiations was a major achivement. Rachel pointed out that this was a step in the right direction as “the future of food, forests and climate are so closely bound, it is vital that we start developing a shared agenda.”



Science shows we urgently need to turn down the heat!

"Prospects of a two-degree or three-degree warmer world within our life-time are real," Rachel said. “Agriculture is particularly vulnerable and everyone depending on it even more so. Over the next 50 years climate change could reduce yields by 16% and up to 28% in Africa. These changes together with floods and droughts, are already taking a heavy toll on the people who can least afford it.”  

The conference couldn’t be more timely. It might be something we say repeatedly within these contexts, but this time we are saying it with more urgency than ever before. As we are now stepping into a world that is more likely going to go beyond two degrees, the challenge before us is daunting and cannot be put off any longer.

It is time for the climate, farming and forestry communities to take action for adaptation together and where possible, include mitigation co-benefits. Together this group also needs to push climate negotiators into realizing urgent action is needed now, rather than tomorrow or next year. 

It's not too late for action. When asked if there was still time to get agriculture included in a 2015 global climate deal, Rachel Kyte said it is never too late

Rachel Kyte, a women's rights champion, is World Bank Vice President of Sustainable Development and  Chair of the CGIAR Fund Council.