Enabling agriculture and forestry to contribute to climate change responses

Summary of COP16 Joint Side Event by the organising committee of ARDD 2010

Cancunmesse, 6 Dec 2010. The organisers of Agriculture and Rural Development Day 2010 (ARDD 2010) and Forest Day 4 (FD4) jointly held an official COP16 side event. The purpose of the two-hour event was to feed outcomes from the two previous day into the UNFCCC negotiations in Cancun.  The side event opened with a short video capturing participants’ perspectives at ARDD 2010 and FD4. The video can be viewed at http://www.agricultureday.org/


Rodney Cooke, Director, Policy and Technical Advisory Division, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) chaired the side event. He introduced the two lead speakers as the rapporteurs from ARDD 2010 and FD4, respectively.

Lead speakers

Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, Chief Executive Officer and Head of Diplomatic Mission, Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), spoke as rapporteur of ARDD 2010. She focussed on ARDD 2010’s six messages to the UNFCCC:

  1. More fast track financing to support agriculture is required
  2. Action on food security, nutrition and hunger must be part of agreements especially in AWG-LCA text
  3. An agricultural work program should be set up under SBSTA
  4. REDD+ must explicitly recognise the links between forestry and agriculture
  5. The synergies and opportunities for adaptation, and mitigation co-benefits must be recognized
  6. New or revised CDM and other mechanisms need to include agriculture and other land use changes

Ms. Sibanda closed on the need for partnerships and bridging the gaps. She emphasised that “There is no climate security without food security and no food security without climate security”.

Frances Seymour, Director, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), spoke as rapporteur from FD4. FD4, with the slogan, “time to act” was marked by a sense of ugency. Forestry constituents are impatient to see REDD+ approved. The consequences of inaction could be grave. Ms. Seymour quoted John Ashton, who at FD4 emphasised that success on REDD+ is within our grasp. She noted that landscape approaches are required, though not all approaches to intensify agriculture result in reduced deforestation. While there was consensus on the need for an integrated approach, participants polled at FD4 revealed less appetite for REDD++ than at FD3 in Copenhagen, perhaps fearing a drag on hard fought momentum achieved to date.


Peter Holmgren, Director, Climate, Energy and Tenure Division, Natural Resources and Environment Department, FAO, emphasised that COP16 showed stronger recognition of the linkages between the agriculture, forestry and food security agendas. He said that the repective finance streams need to be linked. He noted that a healthy distance from the negotiations would be useful as ARD practitioners get on with developing intensified agriculture. He suggested that the two days, ARDD and FD, should be more strongly linked at future COPs.

Dyborn Chibonga, Chief Executive Officer, National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi (NASFAM), referred to climate change as a “runaway train”. He pointed to agriculture as where climate change and development intersect, and emphasised that negotiators must stop posturing, and become more flexible and statesman-like.

Mihir Kanti Majumder, Secretary, Environment and Forestry, Bangladesh, underscored the need for climate-smart agriculture that addresses both adaptation and mitigation. Effective solutions will require more investment in science.

Juergen Voegele, Director, Agriculture and Rural Development Department, The World Bank, identified agriculture as the only sector that will remove greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere, and said that it is impossible to protect forests as long as people are food insecure. He highlighted agriculture as an opportunity for addressing degraded lands, which occupy 25% of the world’s arable land. He also called for people-centred and country-led processes. He noted that few of the nearly $1 billion per day in agricultural subsidies are linked to addressing climate change.

The lead speakers joined the panel. 


Discussants from the floor raised several issues, including:

  • the need to put rural and indigenous people at the centre of our actions
  • the need to redirect agricultural subsidies
  • the need for life cycle analyses that capture the carbon cycles of food and agriculture
  • the importance of addressing bottlenecks and policy incoherence between forestry and agriculture departments and institutions
  • and, the need to influence markets that historically failed to properly capture the values of many natural resources and services


 Summarising the event, Rodney Cooke, IFAD, reiterated several key points:

  • Delivery of crucial poverty reduction targets and coping with climate change necessitate a focus on people, and especially rural people in view of the fundamental role of agriculture and land use
  • Agriculture should be addressed as both a victim of climate impacts and villain in terms of GHG emissions
  • The science and knowledge base is developing, more sharing and partnerships are necessary
  • We can deliver triple-win development solutions to poverty reduction, climate change, and food security through agriculture
  • Developing sustainable intensification in a changing climate will be a challenge, but we have a lot of proven approaches that we can and must act on now
  • Action needs to be taken at the community, national and global levels, with strong leadership from national leaders to foster inter-ministerial cooperation

Emphasising the importance of integrated landscape approaches, Dr. Cooke closed the side event by suggesting ARDD 2011 and FD5 at COP17 in Durban could join forces in a “landscape weekend.”