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A small step for agriculture in the climate change negotiations... and now the real work begins

Agriculture and Rural Development Day, 2010, helped move the issue forward on the climate agenda. Photo: Neil Palmer, CIAT.
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Dec 14, 2010



The new CGIAR research program - Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security launched on 4 December amid a flurry of activities related to agriculture at the Cancun climate conference. The keystone event, Agriculture and Rural Development Day 2010, was jointly organised by a wide range of CCAFS partners and allies (see the full list at the bottom of the event's page), demonstrating that partnerships are crucial for overcoming the challenges that climate change poses to agriculture and food security.

The day-long event, which drew hundreds of participants including policy makers, farmers, scientists and journalists, aimed to put agriculture on this year's climate change agenda. The ARDD website has extensive related resources including session summaries, photos, videos and press materials. The event's organisers produced A Call for Action on Agriculture and Climate Change, summarising the day's key messages, and emphasising the mutual dependence of climate security and food security. This statement was shared along with key messages for forestry and climate change, at a joint Agriculture Day and Forest Day side event on 6 December. The unified message was clear: land use matters for climate change, rural development and food security. Read more about this event at the CGIAR in Action blog.

As COP16 ended, the collective push for including agriculture in a climate change deal has achieved small but important successes.

Agriculture and food security are recognised as areas deserving priority consideration in projects and programmes for enhancing action on adaptation, in a footnote to the Outcome of the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (PDF). Unfortunately there was no decision on a work programme on agriculture on the Subsidiary Body for Technological Advice (SBSTA), proving correct fears that it would be held hostage by the uncertain state of broader negotiations and by a number of small technicalities at the 11th hour.

The Cancun Agreements did, however, call for a SBSTA work programme on REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) that addresses drivers and methodologies, as well as exploration of REDD+ financing options under the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action. As agriculture expansion is a key driver of deforestation in developing countries, this decision ensures some support for continued work on agriculture in the climate change context.

The Cancun climate talks may have ended but the work has just begun. From January 2011, CCAFS embarks on a 10-year work program hosted by the CIAT - the International Center for Tropical Agriculture. Please watch this blog and follow us on twitter (@cgiarclimate) for updates as they unfold, stories from ongoing research, and farm-level perspectives.