Lessons Learned from COP16

The Agriculture and Rural Development Day 2011 blog provides insight into the crucial role that agricultural plays in climate change adaptation and mitigation. Revisit the ARDD 2010 Blog for an overview of last year’s ARDD and the status of agriculture in the international climate treaty context. The following is an article by Nathan Russell, the head of corporate communications at CIAT, that sums up progress towards the inclusion of agriculture in a final treaty.

The mutual dependence of climate security and food security was the clear message from Agriculture and Rural Development Day 2010, held on December 4 in parallel with the Sixteenth Conference of the Parties (COP16) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) taking place at Cancún, Mexico.

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Agricultural work programme under threat amidst uncertain COP16 climate talks in Cancun, Mexico

This press release was issued by the Farming First coalition on 7 December in Cancun, Mexico.

A beneficial and widely supported agricultural work programme is at risk of not being adopted amidst the uncertain state of broader negotiations, leading agricultural experts at the climate negotiations in Cancun warn.

Agriculture is a necessary yet significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 14-31 per cent of total emissions. The world’s 1.5 billion members of farm families also manage the planet’s water, soil and carbon systems.

Yet unlike the forestry sector, agriculture still does not have a dedicated work programme for addressing how it can be incorporated into the broader climate agreement. Such a programme is the starting point for allowing scientists, policymakers, farmers and industry to refine understanding of key issues for mitigation and adaptation in the farming sector.

More and better aligned research, investments and knowledge sharing could help mitigate against future emissions from the agricultural sector and to enable farmers to better adapt to changing temperatures and rainfall patterns, reduced soil fertility or limited access to vital resources for supplying the world’s food. This is especially relevant in less developed countries where farmers have fewer coping mechanisms in place.

Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, Farming First spokesperson and Chief Executive of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) said, “Unless action is taken now to help African farmers respond, the impacts of climate change could derail the region’s recent efforts to transform the agricultural sector.”

Innovations in both technology and in knowledge sharing should be supported by harmonised policy environments and streamlined regulatory frameworks relevant to local contexts. Morgane Danielou, Director at the International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA), said, “Solutions to climate change and food security need to be tailored to local conditions and local needs. Public-private partnerships between research organizations, governments and industry are important collaborations to help adapt agricultural technologies to the unique climate situations faced around the world.”

Howard Minigh, President and CEO of CropLife International, said, “The good news is that science is already helping farmers to do more with less, and we can intensify that effort to help reduce agriculture’s carbon emissions.”

Forest and agriculture experts held a side event on Monday, December 6th at the climate negotiations venue calling for further investment from the world’s leaders. Earlier, at Agriculture and Rural Development Day on Saturday, December 4th, more than four hundred experts from across the world, including policy makers, farmers, scientists and representatives from the private sector and civil society, attended Agriculture and Rural Development Day to identify and discuss best practices and technologies for climate change mitigation and adaptation in agriculture.


Farming First is a global coalition representing the world’s scientists, engineers and industry as well as more than 100 farmers’ associations and agricultural development organisations. Farming First calls for a broad-based, knowledge-centred approach to increase agricultural output in a sustainable and socially responsible manner. To learn more, visit:


To view Farming First’s position on climate change, visit:


Enhanced research key to effective mitigation and adaptation

Isabel Lopez Noriega of Biodiversity International poses a question.

As one of the only sectors that can “put carbon back in the ground”, agriculture is part of the solution to climate change. But Roundtable Five concluded that maximizing farmers’ potential to sequester greenhouse gas emissions and thrive in a hotter and wetter world requires additional research into quick and cost-effective mitigation and adaptation activities.

Lead speaker Louis Verchot, an environmental services scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), underlined the immediate need for new research. “As the policy processes get rolling, we as a research community need to look how we can better inform the process … both inside and outside the UNFCCC,” he said.

Verchot called on researchers to look at “synergies and tradeoffs between mitigation and adaptation and development with respect to food security, water security, energy security, biodiversity, and poverty eradication” and focus on “lower-cost mitigation options for agricultural emissions and for the enhancements of sinks.” He also stressed the need for research on benefits schemes, value chains, real-time MRV schemes, early warning systems, best management practices, and institutions. He added that researchers should devise ways to better-integrate voices from indigenous and local groups into national decision-making.

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