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Agriculture: where poverty reduction, food security and climate change intersect

A group of more than 300 policymakers, farmers and scientists meeting in Copenhagen today called on climate change negotiators and governments at the United Nations Climate Change Conference to recognize agriculture’s vital role in climate change adaptation and mitigation.

The group strongly endorsed the proposed target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently to avoid a temperature increase of more than 2 degrees C and stressed that reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture is essential for achieving the target. Farmers and researchers are already finding climate change solutions. On that basis, the agricultural community intends to play a pro-active role in actions aimed at reducing emissions, while increasing the productive capacity of agriculture through the development of sustainable practices.

Agriculture faces the challenge of nearly doubling food production in order to meet the food needs of a population expected to reach 9 billion by mid-century but without increasing the sector’s emissions. For this purpose, agriculture will need to make the most of new opportunities for expansion, particularly in the temperate zone, where climate change is expected to favor crop production. Across most of the tropics, however, agriculture will continue to face the enormous challenge of adapting to harsh and unpredictable growing conditions.

To meet the climate challenge, additional financing and investment, probably at the higher end of current estimates, will be needed across the entire rural value chain. New investments must be handled transparently to ensure that adaptation and mitigation are not undermined by reduced support for global food security and rural development. In addition, new investment must be accessible to all stakeholders, including researchers and members of civil society, such as farmer associations.

Specifically, the group called on climate negotiators to:

* Establish an agricultural work program under the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) to address gaps in knowledge on climate change impacts at the local level and in monitoring and verification systems
* Strengthen structures for policy dialogue at the regional and local levels that include all stakeholders.

Agriculture and Rural Development Day was organized by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development, the Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, the International Federation of Agriculture Producers, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the Global Forum for Agricultural Research, the Earth System Science Partnership.

By Christina Lakatos