Representatives of ASEAN member states discuss both common positions on agriculture and climate change and the role of agricultural insurance. 

This is a synthesis of the articles ASEAN countries gather to discuss the role of agriculture insurance to increase their resilience to climate change and ASEAN member states consider common position to promote agriculture at COP22 in Marrakesh, first published on the ASEAN-German Programme on Response to Climate Change in Agriculture and Forestry (GAP-CC).

Both extreme events, like floods and typhoons, and slow-onset changes, such as sea level rise and increasing temperatures, pose a wide variety of challenges to agriculture, especially in Southeast Asia, which has some of the most vulnerable countries to climate change.

Crop and livestock production losses due to drought, floods and natural disasters from 2003 to 2013 in Asia were estimated at USD 28 billion, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Measures for helping the agricultural sector to adapt to climate change are therefore both welcome and necessary.

Representatives of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states gathered between 15-18 August 2016 in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, to discuss two matters relating to climate change and agriculture. These meetings were organized by the ASEAN Climate Resilience Network (ASEAN-CRN).

Preparations for COP22

On 15 August, member states discussed consolidating common positions on measures regarding agriculture in climate change to be presented during the 22nd Conference of Parties (COP22) to be held in Marrakesh, Morocco in November 2016.

In consolidating the positions, the ASEAN plans to establish an ASEAN Negotiating Group on Agriculture and Climate Change to link national climate change negotiators with agricultural specialists. This will be discussed in a side meeting during the 38th Meeting of the ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry between 3-8 October 2016 in Singapore. It will be supported by the ASEAN-German Programme on Response to Climate Change, Agriculture and Forestry (GAP-CC).

Vietnam made two submissions to the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) 44 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bonn, Germany last May 2016 on behalf of all ASEAN member states. However, a stronger and more unified representation of the ASEAN positions would help call for greater attention to agriculture within international climate change governance frameworks.

Mr Dhanush Dinesh (Global Policy Engagement Manager), and Dr Leocadio Sebastian (Southeast Asia regional program leader) of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), participated in the COP22 preparations meeting. CCAFS SEA has been a partner of the ASEAN-CRN since its formation in 2014. Through the said partnership, CCAFS SEA has been helping ASEAN member states fill knowledge gaps as they engage in UNFCCC negotiations by reviewing and synthesizing UNFCCC submissions into the required format.

Aside from the negotiations, CCAFS SEA has also supported other ASEAN-CRN efforts, such as the national consultation and study for identifying existing climate-smart agriculture (CSA) practices in Myanmar.

The role of agriculture insurance in climate resilience

Another agenda the member states discussed between 16-18 August was the role of agriculture insurance in increasing resilience to climate change. Representatives from the private sector and development partners involved in agricultural insurance and climate resilience also participated in the meeting.

Discussions on the role of agricultural insurance in the climate resilience of Southeast Asian countries. Insurance could help farmers manage the risks and impacts of climate change. Photo: ASEAN-CRN (GIZ)

According to Dr Tran Kim Long, the Director General of the International Cooperation Department of Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the increasing uncertainty and risks for farmers due to the impacts of climate change could be managed through agriculture insurance.

Countries that have more experience in implementing insurance schemes can provide support to others that have only started introducing such schemes. The Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation, for example, have already conducted a week-long training session in Vietnam. Laos has expressed interest in establishing agriculture insurance schemes, and would welcome advice and capacity building activities.

Aside from capacity building and knowledge sharing between countries, the ASEAN could also support the development of a regional guide for introducing or improving national agricultural insurance schemes. The guide could be based on the “10 Phases Guide in Developing a National Crop Insurance Program”, which the participants tested during a field visit to Tien Giang province.

It is hoped that these events would help ASEAN member states improve their resilience to climate change through promoting CSA practices which would also help ensure food security and mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Read the original articles, ASEAN countries gather to discuss the role of agriculture insurance to increase their resilience to climate change by Jonas Dallinger and ASEAN member states consider common position to promote agriculture at COP22 in Marrakesh by Michael Boyland, Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI).

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Amy Cruz is the junior communications specialist for the World Agroforestry Centre Philippines. She is also a communication consultant with the CCAFS SEA program.