UNFCCC, FAO and IFAD Outline Challenges and Opportunities for Agriculture and Forestry at COP 23

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Author: Stefan Jungcurt Ph.D. | Published: November 9, 2017

Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) are responsible for almost one quarter of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Reducing emissions from agriculture, food systems and forestry, therefore features high on the agenda of the Bonn Climate Conference.

A Primer on AFOLU Emissions and Mitigation Options

The UNFCCC Secretariat has issued a press release that provides a comprehensive overview of the AFOLU issue under the Paris Agreement on climate change, including links to relevant publications and analyses by other organizations, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO). The article outlines linkages between AFOLU, the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and climate change, specifically SDG 2 (Zero hunger), noting accelerating momentum in the development and scaling-up of solutions. The release takes stock of progress, stating that 90% of nationally determined contributions (NDCs) submitted under the Paris Agreement include measures on agriculture, forestry and food systems. This section also covers the impact of climate change on food and agriculture, community resilience, and as driver of conflict, which threaten to reverse progress in reducing hunger.

The release then outlines the potential for beneficial change in the AFOLU sector under the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda, including through: mitigating GHG emissions by reducing deforestation and forest degradation and investing in sustainable agriculture; building resilience through adaptation strategies; investing in inclusive and productive agricultural development; and managing resources more sustainably. Achieving this potential requires transformational agricultural change, the article argues.

The subsequent sections provide an overview of existing initiatives for financing and support, followed by recommendations for overcoming obstacles and barriers, including: improving governance through better sector and sub-sector policy and regulatory frameworks; enhancing data and information gathering and dissemination; scaling-up finance and using it more efficiently; building capacity to address barriers to adoption; and enhancing partnerships. [UNFCCC Press Release]

The Need for a Global Transformation Towards Sustainable Agriculture

In its own press release, FAO stresses the need for a global transformation to sustainable agriculture as strategy to increase food production while making agriculture more resilient against climate change and realizing its mitigation potential. FAO underlines its belief that hunger (SDG 2), poverty (SDG 1) and climate change (SDG 13) are best addressed together by recognizing the linkages between them and designing strategies to improve resource use efficiency, conserve and restore biodiversity, and address climate change impacts. Regarding agriculture’s mitigation potential, the release notes that: rehabilitating degraded soils can sequester up to 51 billion tons of carbon; there is potential to reduce methane emissions from livestock by 30%; and there are opportunities to reduce food loss and waste, which is responsible for 8% of total annual GHG emissions. The article also highlights FAO’s activities during COP 23, including Agriculture Day on 10 November 2017, High-level Round-tables on Climate Action and Zero Hunger on 14 November 2017, and FAO’s series of side events. [FAO Press Release]


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