After the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change decided last year to advance work in the area of agriculture, Parties under the “Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture” now have two years to work on "bold actions" needed in agriculture before more specific ones are agreed upon in 2020. In this context, East African climate negotiators debated such possible agriculture-related actions in the region, based on the challenges expressed by farmers and agro-processors on the ground.
During the last Conference of Parties in Bonn (COP23) last November, the negotiators agreed to have the Subsidiary Body for Science and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) review issues associated with agriculture by using workshops and technical expert meetings, under the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture.
The 7th EAC Climate Negotiators’ Forum took place online, through email exchange and share of Google documents, as the negotiators were on a very busy period. The objective of the 7th forum was to bring awareness and reflexion on: (i) As UNFCCC negotiator, what can they do to better represent and support farmers in the region, through the Koronivia joint work (and other means if any)?; (ii) How UNFCCC can better support farmers in the region (technology, funding, capacity building for instance)?
This was based on an issue note developed by CUTS team in Geneva on “Socio economic impacts of climate change on EAC agriculture: Can UNFCCC negotiators support farmers and agro-processors?”, as well as Country Update Notes received from country partners that gave an overview of “Leveraging UNFCCC agriculture support mechanisms to tackle climate change: Views from EAC farmers”.
What is at stake in the region?
The Country Update Notes sought to obtain the views of EAC farmers, including farmers’ associations and agriculture experts, on the impacts of climate change on their operations, and if they were aware and used available international support mechanisms (especially from the UNFCCC) to face the challenges posed by climate change.
Most of the interviewed farmers were facing impacts by climate change, and even if some were already taking action at their own level to adapt, it was clear that they need financial resources, technology and technical knowhow (capacity building) as a support to cope with climate change. Some of the main barriers that were mentioned by the farmers were: (i) the cost and know-how of changing irrigation techniques, (ii) lack of support from banks, (iii) lack of educational programs on agricultural practices and environmental conservation.
According to some farmers, it is critical to strengthen institutional capacity to research and implement policies that could help farmers cope with climate change, to promote local innovations and practices, as well as increase ground awareness through outreach programmes on international, regional and national climate funds available.
The views reflected in the country update notes were reinforced by the findings of the issue note. Most farmers and agro-processors do not have access to finance, access to suitable technology, lack knowledge/capacities, lack market instruments, lack climate-resilient production infrastructures/mechanisms, lack knowledge on pest control or water management… In the past few decades, these have collectively added onto the increasingly negative impact of climate change on their business and products.
The issue note provided an analysis of discussions/reports from SBSTA workshops on Koronivia Agenda Item “Socioeconomic and food security dimensions of climate change in the agricultural sector. To take the work undertaken in those workshops forward, firstly, the UNFCCC can support in the provision of financial resources and support to developing countries and LDCs, which will enable them to, amongst others, address agricultural climate adaptation and promote co-benefits in order to achieve food security/ resilience goals; and establish appropriate mechanisms for research/development/ the transfer of technology, implement pilot projects, and build the capacity to monitor, report and verify climate policy integration (FCCC/SBSTA/2016/INF.6).
Secondly, since some Parties have already jointly implemented their NAPs with other countries within a global programme, which is coordinated by the FAO and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), it is expected that the continuation of this practice will assist developing countries and LDCs in weighing their vulnerabilities/risks and help in identifying the technologies/practices that can help in managing their climatic risks and adaptation to climate change (FCCC/SBSTA/2016/INF.6).
Thirdly, in view of the differences in agricultural systems, it is important to explore and take advantage of the knowledge of countries such as the EU, in building synergies between all processes for the effective implementation of countries’ intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) in order to address adaptation, mitigation and capacity-building needs. In this situation, the SBSTA can also play an essential role in ensuring that the specificities of the agricultural sector are properly addressed under all convention processes (FCCC/SBSTA/2016/INF.5).
It is recommended in the note that an effective approach would be to carefully consider all the principal activities undertaken by the UNFCCC, which relate to finance, technology and capacity building in order to ensure a focused and constructive engagement on all the fronts of the negotiation process, so that any decision/action can fully address/reflect the capacity, priorities and development needs of EAC members.
Some EAC countries will aim at submitting country submissions (i.e. Kenya and Burundi), and an EAC Submission is also on the agenda, to coherently prepare for the UNFCCC Subsidiary Bodies 48th Meeting in May 2018, in Bonn.The next forum will take place in June 2018, using electronic means. Negotiators are invited to send any requests to CUTS on topics to be discussed.