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Global efforts to protect 500 million farmers from climate change

Climate summit launches efforts toward food security for 9 billion people by 2050. More than 20 Governments, 30 organizations and companies announced they would join the newly launched Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture

More than 20 Governments, 30 organizations and companies announced they would join the newly launched Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture. The countries joining represent millions of farmers, at least a quarter of the world cereal production, 43 million undernourished people and 16 per cent of total agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.

The Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture aims to achieve: Sustainable and equitable increases in agricultural productivity and incomes; greater resilience of food systems and farming livelihoods; and reduction and/or removal of greenhouse gas emissions associated with agriculture (including the relationship between agriculture and ecosystems), wherever possible. It aims to improve people’s food and nutrition security to adjust agricultural practices, food systems and social policies so they account for climate change and the efficient use of natural resources. It will work with stakeholders, including governments, farmers, scientists, businesses, civil society and regional and international organizations.

“I am glad to see action that will increase agricultural productivity, build resilience for farmers and reduce carbon emissions,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “These efforts will improve food and nutrition security for billions of people.”

With demand for food set to increase 60 per cent by 2050, agricultural practices are transforming to meet the challenge of food security for the world’s 9 billion people while reducing emissions.

Regional efforts underway to carry out climate-smart agriculture include the Africa Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance, which will help about 25 million farming households across Africa practice climatesmart agriculture by 2025. Set up by the African Union, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and five non-governmental organizations (World Vision, Oxfam, CARE International, Concern Worldwide and Catholic Relief Services), the African Alliance shows how governments and civil society can work together.

“Africa is leading by example, and the Africa Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance will help ensure that the agriculture sector can continue to be an engine of economic growth and social development for all our people, even in the face of climate change,” said Nkosana Dlamini-Zuma, Chair of the AU Commission.

A North-American Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance will also be established to help farmers, ranchers and foresters adapt to climate change, improve resiliency and ease the associated risks of the production process. For example, this might mean from time the seeds of a tomato are planted through its harvesting and packaging for sale. This alliance is to be launched in 2015.

Walmart, McDonald’s and Kellogg Company committed to increase the amount of food in their respective supply chains that are produced with climate-smart approaches. The commitment of these major corporations will greatly expand the use of sustainable agricultural practices and curb carbon emissions from agriculture. Walmart, for example, is the world’s largest grocery store and sells 70 million tonnes of food annually. McDonald’s buys two per cent of the world’s beef, a major source of agricultural greenhouse gas production.

Its commitment to source its beef sustainably is an important step in efforts to curb food company’s contribution to carbon emissions.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Bank announced that 100 per cent of their agricultural investment portfolios – about $11 billion – would be climate-smart by 2018. This includes IFAD’s commitment to enable an additional 7 million poor smallholder household members to become more resilient to climate change through climate-smart agriculture. The World Food
Programme expanded its R4 Rural Resilience Initiative to empower food insecure rural households in Malawi and Zambia.

The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) will allocate $10.2 billion over the next 10 years to climate-smart agriculture research. Other organizations investing resources in research include the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR), the Global Research Alliance for Agriculture (GRA) on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases, the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC)/Virtual Fertilizer Research Center (VFRC), and several European organizations setting up the Climate-Smart Agriculture Booster. Although farmers, fishers, foresters and livestock keepers are already adapting to climate change using indigenous and scientific knowledge, in many cases adaptation requires
investment and policy changes that enable farmers to manage risk, forecast weather and better use natural resources. These commitments will enhance the options for farmers to adopt climate-smart agriculture and food-systems, by supporting greater investments in research.

In addition, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition’s Agriculture Initiative is prompting actions to reduce the levels of methane and black carbon (soot) emitted during livestock and manure management, paddy rice production, and open agricultural burning.
In a joint statement at the Summit, civil society organizations welcomed the new focus on climate change, food security and agriculture: “We commit to actions on the ground that protect the poorest and most vulnerable farmers from climate change while creating environmentally sound and socially just global food systems.”
These announcements on climate, agriculture and food security respond to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s call to keep global temperature increases to less than two degrees Celsius by reducing emissions, moving money, pricing pollution, strengthening resilience and mobilizing new coalitions. This is one of eight areas identified as critical and further developed during the Abu Dhabi Ascent, a two-day meeting held in the United Arab Emirates in May 2014.

by S. C.
25 september 2014, Food & Fun > Nature

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