Interview [ID: 30]

Agriculture and Climate-Smart Approaches Gain Prominence at COP24

Agriculture and Climate-Smart Approaches Gain Prominence at COP24

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) in Katowice, Poland continued the work of last year’s COP regarding agriculture’s role in climate change adaptation and mitigation. Formal UN negotiations reflect the importance of agriculture through the inauguration of the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA) while two high-level side events captured the momentum surrounding agriculture by focusing on agricultural system transformation and climate smart agricultural practices.

The Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture

The KJWA represents an important step forward in the negotiations on agriculture within the UNFCCC framework. The KJWA is a collaboration between the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation that focuses on addressing approaches to food security, the vulnerability of agriculture to climate change, and how to mitigate agriculture’s contribution to climate change. Agriculture’s annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions must reach 1 gigatonne of carbon dioxide equivalents (GtCO2e/yr) by 2030 if the world is to limit global warming to the agreed 2oC. Current options do not achieve this goal, and so the KJWA can act as a potential key mechanism to drive transformation in agricultural and food systems.

Financing the Climate-Oriented Agriculture Transformation

Outside of the UN negotiations, official COP24 side events also focused on the agriculture-climate change nexus. The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) led an event series entitled “Agricultural Advantage 2.0: Transforming Food Systems Under a Changing Climate”, which featured five key pathways towards transforming agriculture and food systems to meet the Paris Agreement goals:

  • Better investment planning and implementation
  • Mobilizing finance from public and private sectors
  • The application of next generation technologies
  • Increasing carbon sequestration in soils
  • Policies that enable action

The event series made clear the need for greater financial investment and innovation in order to unlock the climate change adaptation and mitigation potential of agriculture. Martien van Nieuwkoop, Director of Agriculture Global Practice at the World Bank, argued for a paradigm shift in the way public finance is dispersed to unlock positive public-good and climate outcomes. Margarita Astralaga, Director of the Environment, Climate, Gender and Social Inclusion Division at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), emphasised the importance of placing farmers at the centre of public-private partnerships and the need to redirect capital flow to farmers in order to drive innovation and transformation.

Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA)

Financing new technologies and CSA practices can help catalyse the agricultural transformation. Two key publications were released relating to CSA and their potential in reaching climate goals. The FAO released its “Climate-Smart Agriculture Case Studies 2018. Successful approaches from different regions” report. The report states that CSA approaches are “triple-win” scenarios based on three pillars:

  1. to sustainably increase agricultural productivity and improve farmers’ incomes
  2. to build resilience and adaptation to climate change
  3. to reduce and/or remove GHG emissions, where possible

Although CSA can be an important tool in advancing agriculture’s climate transformation, the report states CSA is not a silver bullet to be universally applied, but is an approach that requires a deep understanding of local contexts.

The World Bank, CCAFS, and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)’s report examines global trends in CSA via a scientific framework and identifies “best bet” approaches that can guide large-scale investment and de-risk investment in the sector. Five technology clusters were ranked in all three CSA pillars as the top 10 for climate-smart criteria:

  1. Tree management
  2. Improved pastures
  3. Silvopasture
  4. Conservation agriculture
  5. Water management

Unlocking CSA’s potential as a catalyst across various sectors, including finance, policymaking, and governance, requires significant changes in the allocation of public spending and support, as well as a more coordinated public/private funding relationship. Angela Falconer, Associate Director at the Climate Policy Initiative suggested that the development of different CSA pathways for different countries and sectors would enable a clear vision for finance approaches to increase capital to farmers and make projects happen.


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