Summary Outcomes from Agriculture and Rural Development Day (Saturday, 3 December)
On Saturday, 3 December, a group of 17 leading agricultural organizations hosted an all-day event called Agriculture and Rural Development Day held in parallel with the COP17 negotiations in Durban. At the event, more than 500 agricultural experts – including policymakers and negotiators, journalists, farmers, and scientists – discussed priorities to boost agricultural production while supporting mitigation and adaptation to climate change.
At the end of the event, a group of 16 of the world’s leading agricultural organisations jointly endorsed a letter calling on COP17 climate negotiators to take concrete action to include agriculture in the text of the climate agreement. These groups include three United Nations agencies, the World Bank, CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), FANRPAN, the Global Forum on Agricultural Research, Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU) and the World Farmers' Organisation.
Dr. Bruce Campbell, Director of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) said, “It is astonishing that agriculture remains excluded from a global agreement on climate change. This year’s conference offers a unique opportunity for this omission to be addressed.”
Dr. Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, Chief Executive of the South Africa-based Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), added, “With a united voice, African farmers have joined their counterparts around the world to put agriculture on the climate agenda. They are calling on negotiators to unlock the continent’s agricultural potential to increase food productivity while helping them build resilience against the impacts of climate change.”
Specifically, these organizations called for a Work Programme on agriculture, which would result in a more coordinated and rigorous plan of action for the sector as a whole. The Work Programme would be overseen by the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), an official body within the broader UNFCCC negotiations framework.
At the event, many discussions took place highlighting how agriculture possesses huge untapped potential to both mitigate future greenhouse gas emissions while helping those most vulnerable adapt to its impacts and reduce pressure on natural resources. To realize this goal, long-term investment in “climate-smart” agricultural approaches must be supported, such as conservation agriculture, agroforestry, sustainable land and water management, and soil carbon management.
Rachel Kyte, Vice President for Sustainable Development, World Bank & Chair, CGIAR Fund Council, welcomed the efforts made by the organizers of Agriculture and Rural Development Day, noting, “No single government or organisation can meet this challenge alone. The new norm must be strong collaboration between business, government, research, and development organizations and between environmental, food security, and other agricultural specialists.”
Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) added, “Smallholder farmers currently manage up to 80 percent of farmland in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, as well as providing up to 80 percent of the food in developing countries. We must scale up research and investments in sustainable agriculture approaches that have already succeeded in raising smallholders’ productivity while reducing their carbon emissions.”
Currently, 97 percent of agricultural workers live in developing countries, and agriculture typically accounts for 50 percent of total GDP in the least developing countries. It is estimated that the world will require a 70 percent increase in food production by 2050, with climate change already threatening current yields of staple crops, especially in South Asia. Global food prices are expected to increase on average by 10-20 percent over the next ten years with higher temperatures and more extreme weather seriously undermining farmers’ ability to feed their families and provide food for national and global markets.
Already in its third year, Agriculture and Rural Development Day (ARDD) aimed to inspire both high-level commitment and grassroots action to address the links between agriculture and climate change. The event itself features keynote speakers, a high-level panel discussion, and a dozen participatory “learning events” dealing with specific cases of climate-smart agriculture. Photos from the event can be seen here: www.flickr.comwww.agricultureday.org