on 10th November 2017

My Agriculture, My Life

Today November 10, is Agriculture Day at COP 23, so it’s only right to reflect on the impact of climate change on food and agriculture systems, particularly impacts on small-scale food producers and women. While climate change affects all spheres of people’s lives, for the most vulnerable communities, it is agriculture that is the most affected. Agriculture is the backbone of their livelihoods, economies and culture — as well as their basic food and nutrition security.

The climate change challenge in agriculture will require a strong commitment in and support for adaptation. In the short term, for agriculture to thrive in a changing climate, policy- and decision-makers will need to provide enough support, including finance, to scale up adaptation efforts, especially among small-scale farmers and women. Yet, climate adaptation finance commitments so far show that we have a huge deficit between the resources needed and what is available. Scientific research on climate change impacts is improving year after year, informing adaptation finance estimates for the coming decades.  As climate change impacts become more severe and frequent, finance and support needs for adaptation in developing countries will rise and — without adequate support — so will the number of food-insecure people.

However, to effectively respond to issues of adaptation in agriculture, parties need to both address the need for increased adaptation finance and directly tackle the underlying cause — greenhouse gas emissions. Adaptation alone will not solve the climate crisis. With the number of chronically hungry people on the rise, now 815 million, all countries, but particularly developed countries, must close the ambition gap and urgently reduce emissions.  A warmer climate will interfere with natural ecosystem health and disrupt basic weather patterns leading to desertification, and making agricultural livelihoods harder for vulnerable populations already struggling to increase their incomes and feed their families. Further, climate change will create additional stress on water resources and availability, particularly in areas already experiencing water stress. Thus, the burden on women walking long distances for water increases and adds to the challenges families face in accessing sufficient clean water for health and agriculture.

The Paris Agreement provides for parity between mitigation and adaptation and all Parties, including developing countries, should act with urgency to achieve the 1.5°C goal and the global goal on adaptation. To realize these goals — as well as SDG2 to end hunger — the provision of adequate adaptation finance and ambitious emissions reductions are required. Further, gaps in knowledge, action, and support must be addressed to enable developing countries to increase action. The need for ambition in adaptation and mitigation, the vulnerability of agriculture to climate change, and the nearly 90% of countries that have included agriculture in their nationally determined contributions should motivate negotiators under SBSTA to make substantial progress in the agriculture agenda item.

The longer the delay, the more lives are affected and the more food security is undermined. Poor, rural communities depend on agriculture for their livelihoods and for their food. Progress in agriculture must ensure action and support to meet their needs and advance the principles of the Paris Agreement, including “safeguarding food security and ending hunger.”

We all depend on food producers to feed our families: let’s recognize that any agriculture is My Agriculture, My life. 

Vitu Chinoko

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