Creating climate change policies for rural development in Latin America

One of the main results of the seminar was planning and implementation around policies in Latin America. Photo credit: CCAFS

To address the challenges of climate change, Latin American countries created various policies. However, there’s a lack of synergy between the policies and the agricultural sector. 

An international seminar called “Public policies and rural development in Latin America” was organized to provide a platform to discuss policies about climate change, food security, agriculture, migration and rural development among others. Participants included international organizations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), various research centers, scientists and universities. The seminar took place at the headquarters of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and was supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), the French Embassy in Colombia and the European Union.

Deissy Martínez Barón, the Regional Program Coordinator for CCAFS Latin America, presented an overview of the public policies on climate change and agriculture in the region. During her presentation, Martínez Barón argued that international actors drove the global agenda on policy formulation and the development of initiatives on climate change. Thus, these actors play a key role in funding initiatives and influencing policies at the national level.

Even though every country has policies on climate change, there is a lack of synergy between them and the agricultural sector policies at different scales (municipal, state, etc.), which represents a great challenge for Latin American countries. Martínez Barón also noted that despite the recent interest in doing research on public policies related to climate change and agriculture, there are great opportunities to deepen and generate knowledge around these topics.

Some of the gaps mentioned were:

  • The lack of literature about the monitoring, evaluation, effectivity, and efficiency of climate change and agricultural policies.
  • Poor in-depth comparative analysis between countries and their respective policies on climate change and agriculture. 
  • Scarce publications in international scientific journals about the analysis of public policies on climate change and agriculture in Latin America.

The key challenges then become to develop a holistic approach to climate change policies, a better dialogue between research and public policy formulation, institutional flexibility and implementing policy in a context where transformational discourses about the irreversible consequences of climate change can be carried out. 

Martinez Barón also presented how in the framework of the CCAFS flagship on Priorities and Policies for Climate-Smart Agriculture, CCAFS Latin America is addressing policy issues in a climate change context. Currently, CIAT leads a project on equitable climate change policies and also participates in a project focusing on policy mixes across scales and sectors called ARTIMIX led by the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD).

Panel discussion on public policies

During the seminar, CCAFS led a panel discussion about climate change policies for agriculture with a food security perspective. Julie Lennox from ECLAC participated as a speaker presenting their work on climate change policies in Central America and how they could be linked to food security challenges in the region. Laura Meza from IICA talked about her experience of trying to systematically integrate agricultural concerns into climate change policies. Lastly, Carolina Milhorance de Castro, from UnB-CDS Brazil, presented a case study on how climate and development policies have been integrated in Brazil.

Main conclusions from this panel were the following:

  • Adaptation is a priority for Latin America, which should be sustainable and inclusive.
  • More is needed regarding emissions reduction; the current commitments signed by countries are not sufficient.
  • It is necessary to articulate food security efforts of small producers, considering variability and climate change policies, to reformulate strategies that integrate climate change and sustainable food systems addressing malnutrition and obesity issues.

The session concluded with participants’ future commitments regarding developing a comparative analysis of regional policy formulation on climate change and considering the efforts of linking food and nutrition security to climate change policies based on ECLAC publications and partners.

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Deissy Martínez Barón is the Regional Coordinator for CCAFS Latin America. Jean Francois Le-Coq is a Researcher for CIRAD-CIAT. Andrea Castellanos is the Science officer for CCAFS Latin America.