Building Momentum for Climate-Smart Agriculture

Support farmers' efforts to adapt to climate change. Photo: N. Palmer (CIAT)

by Nathan Russell, CIAT

Before the closing session of Agriculture and Rural Development Day in Durban, South Africa, a high-Level Panel of experts charted the way forward with climate-smart agriculture. Summarized below are their main conclusions from a discussion facilitated by Laurie Goering, editor of the Thomas Reuters Foundation’s AlertNet Climate, which acted as media sponsor for the day.

Mamadou Goita, Executive Secretary, West African Network of Farmers’ Organizations (ROPPA, its acronym in French): Start where farmers are today. Support their efforts to adapt to climate change through research that genuinely responds to their needs, while rapidly scaling up the best practices.

Caroline Spelman, Member of Parliament and UK Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA): Coping with climate change is a matter of extreme urgency. There are no simple, one-size-fits-all solutions but rather a rich diversity of approaches used around the world. Climate-smart solutions require smart finance.

Sheila Sisulu, Deputy Executive Director for Hunger Solutions, World Food Programme (WFP): Climate change knows no borders. To address this challenge successfully, we must always put people first and constantly insist that women matter.

David Bresch, Director, Head for Sustainability and Political Risk Management, SwissRe: Innovative insurance schemes can play an important role in coping with climate change, providing protection against extreme circumstances and strong incentives to take preventive measures.

Youba Sokona, Coordinator, African Climate Policy Center, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA): There are many effective options for dealing with climate change. We must bring them together through institutional innovation.

According to an Afrikaans saying, “the farmer always makes a plan,” Sisulu noted.

South Africa’s Minister of Agriculture Tina Joemat-Pettersson has a plan too, and it’s to deliver a call to action from Agriculture and Rural Development Day 2011 to the climate change negotiators in Durban. She will urge them to set up a Work Programme for Agriculture within the UN-sponsored talks, aimed at building momentum behind climate-smart agriculture.

Nathan Russell is Head of Corporate Communications at the Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).